Whether you’re at home or in a workplace, you can’t avoid COVID-19. Most of our lives have now revolved around what practices are best to prevent and reduce the spread of the virus. You may not consider it, but even a routine fire inspection needs to be tweaked before going through your home or office environment.
Here are some simple and effective ways a fire inspection can still be done while actively preventing the spread of coronavirus.
If you’re in a multi-story building or office environment, make sure there’s just one person who is performing the fire inspection.
Not every employee is trained to check all of the fire equipment, so this might be a job for a professional fire inspection service.
Your workplace fire marshal can be a good person to turn to for routine inspections of entrances, exits, fire extinguishers, and other safety tools. In this case, they’ll have to be careful during inspection and sanitize surfaces as they go.
Here’s what we outline on our website as a safe practice to check your fire extinguisher:
Fire extinguishers should be maintained at regular intervals (at least once a year), or when specifically indicated by an inspection. A fire extinguisher inspection is intended to give maximum assurance that an extinguisher will operate effectively and safely. It includes a detailed examination and any necessary repairs, recharging or replacement. It will normally reveal the need for pressure testing (hydrostatic testing) of an extinguisher to ensure the cylinder is safe to use.
If you’re at work during COVID-19, you’ve probably already gotten the sanitization drill. Wiping down surfaces is vital to making sure everything is safe to use in the workplace.
Make sure your office has cleaning supplies and it is accessible to everyone. It’s best to go around at least 3 times a day to wipe down commonly used surfaces. This is important in the event of an emergency where people will need to evacuate. That way, evacuation can be done as safely as possible with a lesser chance of contamination.
The National Fire Protection Association also makes this point about making sure entrances are not only sanitize, but accessible:
“Many buildings have adjusted their entries and lobbies to now require such features as staggered entry, mask deployments and temperature checks. How have these important and pragmatic changes taken people with disabilities into account? The following questions should be considered: Are entries free and clear of obstruction? Is the entry accessible for those using wheelchairs or other mobility devices?”
Calling in a professional fire inspector to perform a routine inspection is often the best route to take. This is especially true if you’re in an office environment.
However, not all companies will be able to provide complete service due to physical distancing rules. Before asking for a fire inspection, call and ask what their policy is during COVID-19.
The Ontario Fire Marshal outlines certain protocols that need to be taken into place during the pandemic:
“Fire Departments should consider on a case by case basis and per local municipal policies during COVID-19 restrictions: To limit fire inspection activities that require entry into buildings to fire safety matters that involve serious risk to life safety, or, fire safety matters that the Fire Chief or their delegate have assessed and deemed to be necessary. Fire inspection related entry into buildings should be undertaken in compliance with any COVID-19 safety protocols adopted by municipalities and in compliance with any additional protocols adopted in buildings where entry is required.”
Working in a restaurant setting has a lot of obstacles to overcome. There are plenty of routine inspections to handle on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.
A restaurant kitchen is fraught with safety hazards and staff need to make sure that there’s the right safety protocol in place to keep everything in order. This goes especially for fire safety. Kitchens are naturally going to be prone to fire safety issues and that’s why it’s necessary to have the right rules in place to avoid and prevent any accidents. Here are some easy tips you can follow to ensure your restaurant is following safety standards.
Performing a routine fire inspection is a must for any workplace, especially for restaurants. A restaurant setting can be unpredictable at times because equipment can fail or malfunction and potential accidents can happen.
The best course of action to combat this is to be as prepared as possible for any possible scenario. The first step to this is prevention, and this can be done through routine inspections. Check equipment to see if it’s properly set up and clean, and check that all fire safety equipment is up to date and in the right place.
Markel Insurance indicates these fire prevention tips when performing routine inspections:
“Schedule regular maintenance on electrical equipment, and watch for hazards like frayed cords or wiring, cracked or broken switch plates and combustible items near power sources.
Have your exhaust system inspected for grease buildup. The NFPA Fire Code calls for quarterly inspections of systems in high-volume cooking operations and semi-annual inspections in moderate-volume operations. Monthly inspections are required for exhaust systems serving solid-fuel cooking equipment, like wood or charcoal-burning ovens.”
All employees in a restaurant should be wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE). This means supplying all of your employees with the uniforms that will protect against burns, spills, cuts, and scrapes.
Working in a kitchen and near any sort of hardware with heat, water, or sharp objects, PPE goes hand-in-hand with giving employees the right training. If employees are fully trained on how to use hardware like a grill or stove, then they need to be equipped with the right PPE while they’re using it. This acts as a first line of defence against any potential accidents that could happen.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety points out that wearing the right PPE is important:
“It is also important to remember that wearing the right PPE is important. PPE does not reduce the workplace hazard nor does it guarantee permanent or total protection for the wearer. Simply having Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available is not enough.”
Your restaurant business should have its own set of safety rules in place. Once you do, it’s important to also check with the building safety rules as well.
Cross-reference these rules with your own business and see if there’s anything you may have missed. Often, restaurant buildings are rented by the business owners and naturally, not everyone is as familiar with the building. There may be certain rules and protocol in place already. Plus, when planning your evacuation plans, there could already be one outlined by the building manager.
The city of Red Deer, Alberta has a great document highlighting what fire safety protocol needs to take place in an emergency, and is a great example to follow in your own workspace. Here’s an example:
“A Fire Safety Plan shall include:
- a) The emergency procedures to be used in case of a fire, including
- Sounding of the fire alarm,
- Notifying of the fire department,
iii. Instructing occupants on procedures to be followed when the fire alarm sounds,
Evacuating occupants, including special provisions for persons requiring assistance,
Confining, controlling and extinguishing the fire.”
Fire prevention and emergency preparedness are important parts of running your business. No matter if you’re just starting out with your own retail shop, or you’ve been managing a clothing shop in a mall for years: fire safety at work is a crucial part of your job. The best emergency preparedness plan starts with prevention. If you ensure you’re working in accordance with your local bylaws and regulations, you’re already ahead of the game.
SmallBizTrends.com makes the important point to “Stay on Top of Fire Code Changes”
“Chances are your local municipality has updated information on how to keep your business safe from a fire. Staying on top of the fire code changes in your area will give you good cutting-edge information.”
Regulations change over time as new technology and new regulations are introduced. If you’ve been in the same building for a few years, or you’re moving to a new one – take a look at what’s changed since you first developed your fire safety plan. You might be surprised at what’s changed.
StateFarm.com shares some helpful tips to follow when setting up your fire prevention plan:
Fire Plan. Make sure your employees know what to do if there’s a fire. Conduct a fire drill at least once a year to keep employees aware of your workplace fire safety protocol.
Have a Safety Officer. Designate a person as your office’s fire prevention officer. Their duties will include composing escape routes and meeting points for employees, as well as keeping all of your safety plans, equipment, and information updated.
Evacuation Plan. In larger buildings, post a fire evacuation plan in several spots around the workplace.
First Aid. In case of fire injuries, your employees should be familiar with the location of the first-aid kit, which should be kept where possible hazards can occur most, such as in the kitchen.
Now that you know the rules and regulations in your area, it’s time to make a fire safety plan and communicate it clearly to all of your employees. It’s important to host fire drills at least once per year so employees can physically walk the route to the meeting point. It is usually easier for a person to remember something they’ve actually done rather than written instructions or a map.
TrustSheildInsurance.ca provides some great tips for customizing your fire prevention plan:
Make it obvious: Every exit point should have a sign alerting people to the evacuation route for that particular area.
Keep everyone in the loop: If you update, modify or remove any fire evacuation routes, you must let your employees know.
Stay organized: Create a list of all your employees, and take note of those who are pregnant, have recently undergone an operation or have disabilities, as they may need assistance during the evacuation process.
Special events: If there’s an event taking place in your business’ neighbourhood that requires streets to close, or increases foot traffic (such as a parade or marathon), be sure to re-evaluate your assembly points and evacuation procedures.
If your business is on a main road or in a busy mall, remember that seasonal activities like parades, sporting events, and others can drastically change your fire prevention plan. Also take note of special decorations and signage you may be using during different times of the year: is your Christmas tree unplugged every night? Are the Sale banners hanging too close to the overhead lighting? It’s important to consider your fire safety plan at all times of the year and with every change you make to your decor.
Now that you know how to create or maintain your fire safety plan, check out how we can help with fire extinguisher inspections, recharges, and many other mobile services to keep you and your business safe.
Running a business can be an exhilarating journey but often it ends up taking up a lot more of your time than you bargained for. From emails to payroll to last minute trips to pick up coffee for the break room: there’s a lot on your plate as a small business owner! Here are some tips to help you make 2020 the year you focus on your talents and learn to delegate the little tasks that eat up all your time.
Hire a Virtual Assistant says rchisnapper.com:
“Spend less time doing repetitive admin tasks you don’t like, and more time doing the tasks that are essential for building your business. Virtual assistants can help you organize your day-to-day and take care of all the non-essential tasks so you can focus on the bigger picture. More time will also help you manage your work/life balance, giving you more time to spend with family and friends, while still growing your business successfully.”
You may have thought about hiring an assistant and found the expense was just too high to justify. The amazing difference of a virtual assistant is that you don’t have to pay a set number of hours, provide a desk and computer or really anything! They’re more like an extension of yourself than a separate assistant. Just onboard them with all of the logins they need access to and then assign tasks as they come up. If there are tasks that you’re just not that great at, don’t know how to do, or you just hate doing them: assign it to your VA! For example, you could get your VA to update your social media and blog, they could send follow-up emails to solicit reviews from clients, your VA could even send out birthday cards for you!
Use accounting software says accountingweb.com
Accounting software automates repetitive tasks. Modern accounting software automates repetitive tasks such as invoicing, statements, payments reminder & collection, reporting and budgeting so that you don’t have to manually go through each of the above processes which is time consuming and adds up to the employee costs.
Accounting software has come a long way! One piece of software can handle payroll, inventory, and your expense tracking – even your mileage! By implementing one simple platform that tracks all aspects of your operations, it’s also a lot easier to start delegating some of those time consuming and repetitive tasks.
Outsource your fire safety inspections
“Fire extinguisher inspection services can address all of your specific fire hazard needs. We will ensure municipal, provincial, and federal compliance to your industrial needs. It is vital that powder used in some extinguishers is disposed of through certified agencies to prevent environmental contamination. We are committed to assisting our industrial and commercial customers to reduce the impact of meeting these legal requirements and make them as painless as possible.”
Fire safety is usually one of the most overlooked tasks with small businesses, but it doesn’t have to be. With service providers like Fire Alert, it’s as easy as a phone call to schedule your fire extinguisher inspection, order emergency lighting signage, and even stock your first aid kit. There’s no need to transport your fire extinguishers for testing, Fire Alert comes to your location and completes your mandatory inspection and any other services you need. You could even get your virtual assistant to take care of it!
Now that you know how to save time by automating and delegating certain tasks, check out how we can help with fire extinguisher inspections, recharges, and many other mobile services to keep you and your business safe.
Fire extinguishers are one of the only means of suppressing small fires before the fire department can attend the scene and it is vitally important to maintain them year after year. But what does proper fire extinguisher maintenance look like? We’ll explain exactly what you need to do to happen to keep your fire extinguishers up to code.
The NFPA 10 is the current version of the code book developed by the National Fire Prevention Association
“NFPA 10 provides requirements to ensure that portable fire extinguishers will work as intended to provide a first line of defense against fires of limited size.”
This is a lengthy code book and can be intimidating for many business owners and managers. We provide fire safety services in accordance with the NFPA 10 and all amendments. The most basic regulations for fire extinguishers are:
“According to NFPA 10, fire extinguishers in commercial and industrial spaces must be inspected on a monthly basis. This inspection can be done internally by a designated staff member or by a certified fire extinguisher company, like Fire-Alert. On an annual basis, fire extinguishers must be inspected by a certified company.
ABC dry chemical fire extinguishers must be tested every 6 years. A recharge is performed at the 6 year mark followed by a hydrostatic test at the 12 year mark. Co2, Class K (kitchen) and water fire extinguishers must be hydrostatically tested every 5 years. Fire hoses are hydrostatically tested 5 years from the manufacture date and every 3 years thereafter.”
You can learn more about the regulations for fire extinguishers in Ontario in our recent blog post here.
What is a fire extinguisher inspection? An inspection looks at the fire extinguisher itself as well as it’s placement and other factors. An inspection can be done by yourself or an employee on a regular basis, but must be inspected by a certified company either every year or every six years depending on the type. Some tips for carrying out an inspection yourself:
Have a checklist handy with the date of each fire extinguisher inspection and follow each step until complete. Be sure to mark the date of inspection on the inspection tag of your fire extinguisher.
Your extinguisher should not be blocked by any equipment, coats or objects that may interfere with access in case of an emergency.
Always check to ensure that the pressure of the unit is at the recommended level by checking the gauge to confirm that the needle is in the green zone which will show that the pressure is right where it should be.
Make sure the nozzle or other parts of the extinguisher are not obstructed in any way.
If your portable fire extinguishers have a pin and tamper seal, check to see if they are intact and undamaged.
Check for dents, rust, leaks or any sign of abuse or wear. Take a damp rag and wipe off any gunk or chemicals that may have accumulated on the device.
Shake your extinguisher to prevent the powder from settling to the bottom.
What is a fire extinguisher recharge? To “recharge” your fire extinguisher means that it is being refilled and will work reliably in the event of a fire. A fire extinguisher that is older than six years and has not been recharged is at risk of not operating and being unable to suppress a fire.
If you are unsure if your fire extinguisher needs to be refilled, here are some helpful hints:
Check the pressure gauge, if it’s fallen below the functional level, it’s time to refill.
If your unit does not have a gauge, have it tested by a Fire-Alert Expert immediately.
Have your extinguisher checked annually.
Even if you have not used your extinguisher, it needs to be filled every six years.
If you do use it, refill it as soon as possible after use.
Now that you know the importance of fire extinguisher maintenance, check out how we can help with fire extinguisher inspections, recharges, and many other mobile services to keep you and your business safe. Fire-Alert experts are trained and certified and will reliably perform maintenance and recharge your fire extinguishers on-site.
Have you created your Fire Escape Plan with your family?
If you haven’t, now is the time! We have provided a checklist to help you through the process, please click on the link below: