Fire Safety Inspections
The Everett Fire Department’s Fire Marshal’s Office is responsible for enforcing all Fire Codes, and strives to be at the forefront of fire prevention and mitigation by proactively finding ways to reduce risk to our community. Being reactionary and responding to tragic fires can cost many lives and property/business owners’ livelihoods. Conducting fundamental fire inspections contributes significantly to our goals of preventing and mitigating risk to our community. It is difficult to see, and statistics do not always reveal the number of lives saved and property protected because of routine fire inspections. It is always easier to evaluate tragic events and determine what could have been done to prevent it, rather than to calculate all of the tragic events that have prevented due to the partnership between the fire department and property/business owners.
The Everett Fire Department understands that a fire inspection can be inconvenient, especially when the inspection is unannounced, but we hope that property/business owners see the importance of the inspection. Being prepared for your inspection can help reduce risk of a fire, save money on costly repairs of items that needed routine maintenance, and speed up the inspection process.
Fire inspectors look at many items during the fire inspection. We have provided the following pre-inspection checklist to help you better understand some of the most common deficiencies found during a fire inspection.
Street address must be clearly marked and follow the following requirements:
- Shall be contrasting with the colors of the building.
- Posted in a conspicuous place, visible from the street fronting the property.
- Not be obstructed from view.
- Be sized as per the provided chart:
Exit doors must open easily from the inside. Locking mechanisms on doors shall not require special knowledge of keys. The only exception is a main storefront door having locking devices that are readily distinguishable as locked and with a sign above that reads “This door to remain unlocked when building is occupied.”
Aisles, walkways, stairways, and paths leading to exits must be clear of storage and obstructions.
Emergency lights and exit signs (that are lighted from within) must work properly and function in both normal and emergency power mode. Lighted exit signs shall be lit at all times.
Electrical outlets, junction boxes, and circuit breaker panels must be covered with appropriate cover plates. Circuit breaker panels require 30 inches of clearance in from of each panel.
Electrical extension cords cannot be used as a substitute for permanent wiring. Extension cords are only approved for “temporary use” (operating a vacuum cleaner, powering tools while making a repair, etc.). Multi-outlet power strips with a built-in circuit breaker may be used to protect computers and related equipment.
Fire extinguishers must be visible, readily accessible, and serviced within the past 12 months or purchased with a manufactured date within the past 12 months.
Fire alarm systems are expected to notify you of an emergency and to give you time to take action. Fire alarm systems shall be inspected by a licensed contractor annually.
Fire sprinkler systems shall be inspected by a licensed fire protection contractor at a minimum of once annually and an obstruction investigation conducted once every five years.
Fire suppression systems for commercial cooking operations (Hood Systems) must be serviced and tested by a licensed fire protection contractor every six months or after an activation. Hoods, grease-removal devices, fans, ducts and other appurtenances shall be cleaned by a qualified individual using the following frequencies:
COMMON CAUSES OF COMMERCIAL BUILDING FIRES
Fact, between 2004 and 2013, nonresidential building fires killed 65 people, injured 1,425, and created $2,461,400,000 in damage. Also, as many as one in four businesses that suffer some kind of disaster such as a fire do not reopen afterwards. Overcoming a fire or other disaster can be extremely difficult. To help prevent a dangerous and costly fire, it is important to know the most common fires that happen in a place of business. This way, you can know when your business is most at risk, and what steps you can take to mitigate that risk.
29.3% of nonresidential fires were cooking related. One in four office building fires were related to cooking equipment. These fires can be easily preventable with the appropriate fire protection systems being installed and maintained.
The second most common cause of nonresidential fires were intentionally started. This accounts for almost 10% of fires, and tends to cause the most damage. Intentional fires also result in more civilian injuries and deaths. Unlike cooking and heating fires, it is most common for intentional fires to be started between 3pm and midnight.
A few common locations in your building to be aware of include:
- Trash bins
- Open areas like a lawn or field
9.2% of commercial fires were unintentional results of careless acts. This is somewhat of an 'other' category. A few examples of careless acts that result in fires include:
- Accidentally leaving space heaters or other heat producing equipment on
- Carelessly discarded cigarette butts igniting fires
- Plugging too many things into the same extension cord
Heating fires account for 9% of all nonresidential building fires. Central heating units, fireplaces, water heaters, and other heating appliances and systems should be regularly inspected to prevent fires. It is important to move any flammable materials and furniture away from heat sources, especially in the winter months when the heat is turned on.