During these tough economic times, it is increasingly important for business managers to examine operating costs in detail and determine the best value for each dollar spent. As a business owner or a decision-maker for your company, you are faced with difficult choices on where to cut expenses and how keep your business stable. Budgets are tight and it is difficult to secure funding to help plan for a fire emergency that may never happen. However, now more than ever, building managers need to be prepared. Adhering to fire code requirements can certainly be an eye opener when creating budgets. Expenses which must be carefully reviewed include annual inspections of fire equipment and their upkeep, training of personnel, and maintaining a current fire safety plan. When finances are limited, there is more vigorous oversight to protect existing assets, including an increased emphasis on fire safety. In addition, the average penalty per serious fire safety violation has recently risen. In mid-2009, a safety survey undertaken by a private firm further underscored the on-going focus on cost-savings in the workplace. The survey revealed that 72 percent of respondents expect to reduce current operating expenses in 2009 as part of an overall effort to reduce company expenses, and nearly half planned to switch to lower-priced or lower-performing products to save money. A similar pattern was uncovered in the selection of contractors for the maintenance of fire and life safety equipment and annual testing. The least-expensive option listed on paper may not in fact be the most cost-effective choice for the long term. It may be tempting to reduce spending, but building operators and managers need to be aware of the hidden costs associated with bargain expenditures, not to mention the potential of jeopardizing employee health or occupant safety. Quality services do have a slightly higher price tag.
Faced with reduced profits, some business operators have decided to control spending by spreading expenses over a number of years. This does not involve waiting for a breakdown before repairing a critical component of the life safety equipment within a building, but rather performing predicted maintenance in advance. An example of this is that familiar red canister called the fire extinguisher. The fire code dictates that every six years the fire-fighting chemical agent contained within each cylinder is considered expired and must be replaced. Some building operators may only learn of this expense when their service provider submits a proposal to service numerous fire extinguishers after the annual fire safety inspection. Budgets are even further impacted when the fire extinguisher reaches its twelfth year, as the requirement is for the cylinder to be hydrostatically tested and the fire-fighting agent replaced. At this point, a building operator should certainly ascertain the cost of replacement extinguishers from their service provider rather than automatically proceeding with maintenance of old cylinders. The cost of servicing a 12-year old extinguisher can be double the amount required to simply replace it. Backup battery packs in emergency lighting units are another example of a predictable expense. The lighting units are activated during a building power outage and are critical in guiding occupants towards exits. The backup batteries are removable and normally have a 5-year expiry date. However, the emergency lighting equipment will only strain a building operator’s budget if the entire unit is replaced, rather than only the backup battery at a fraction of the cost.
This article was contributed by Firepoint Inc, serving the GTA since 1997, developing fire department approved fire safety plans for newly constructed and existing buildings. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, the bulletin publishers and authors do not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current and shall not be liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the bulletin information. Bulletin reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the written consent of Firepoint Inc. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. See www.firepoint.ca or call 905-874-9400.