Smokey the Bear used to tell Americans, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Well, an updated version of that could be, “Only you can protect your business from a fire.” Think about your business. How up to date are your commercial fire alarm systems?
Fire is an every present threat for businesses around the United States. Every year, 15 deaths and 150 injuries are caused by hotel and motel fires. Property loss from these fires costs $76 million. Between 2011 and 2013, there were 5,600 fires in restaurants around the country. Despite the threat of fire, most businesses do not have an evacuation plan. Only 35% say that they do.
In addition to having an evacuation plan, businesses need to have working commercial fire alarm systems. Here are things you need to do to make sure you have the right one for your business.
Do a fire risk audit on your business. You cannot expect to be able to prevent fires in your business if you do not know where the problem areas are. What you need to do, as a first step, is look at your business critically. Where are the risk areas? How will your commercial fire alarm system work? In addition to the fire alarm, you will need a commercial fire sprinkler system to suppress and put out any fires that you do have.
Determine what kind of fire detection you actually need. Different buildings and different kinds of businesses have different needs in this area. You may need to get more than one kind of fire detection system to really keep your business safe from the threat of a fire.
Do you want manual or automatic commercial fire alarm systems? The most fundamental difference between the different kinds of commercial fire alarm systems is whether the system is manual or if it is automatic. The automatic commercial fire alarm system triggers the sounds to alert people that there is a fire as soon as it senses heat or smoke. The manual system is capable of turning on the sound system when it discovers there is a fire but rather than doing it automatically, it sends an alert to a pull station where a person has to set off the noises.
Do you want a commercial fire alarm system that is addressable or one that is conventional? Addressable systems (these are also referred to as intelligent systems) give each device in the system its own address so it is easier to tell which sensor in the system was the first to detect a fire. The conventional fire alarm systems has devices that are hardwired into a central control panel but they are located in different sections. Small buildings with only a few devices can benefit from the use of the conventional system whereas larger buildings are better served by the addressable systems.
Do not forget the ADA. Businesses in the United States need to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Basically, people with disabilities need to be able to reach any manual commercial fire alarm systems that are installed in the commercial property. There are a few areas where you have to pay close attention:
- The panel height: People in wheelchairs need to be able to get to the fire alarm system.
- The difficulty of usage: It must be easy for people with disabilities to activate the manual system. The biggest barrier here is often that the system requires too much force to turn it on.
- Both deaf and blind people need to be able to use it. The audio-visual components much not prevent blind or deaf people from being able to activate the system.
Many businesses think that a fire cannot happen to them. They think these things happen to other companies and businesses. The problem is that they do. Even if the fire does not happen in your business, it can happen in a business nearby and then spread to yours. Even hospitals have problems with fires. There were 1,200 fires in hospitals in 2010, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. They say that, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that is accurate here.