UL300 requires the use of wet chemical kitchen hood fire suppression systems and not the old dry systems. This has become an issue in our industry because most dry chemical systems cannot receive code-required hydro-testing. Another factor here: dry chemical systems are no longer in production, therefore parts and service are not available.
To fully comply with UL300, we recommend that you replace any old dry chemical systems with the new wet chemical kitchen hood fire suppression systems.
Winter is always a good time of year to remind people of the importance of putting fire extinguishers in home and businesses. Yet, as important as it is to have extinguishers, it’s also very important to know where those extinguishers should be placed in the home.
Let’s start with a little common sense when it comes to home fire prevention. The extinguishers should be placed in areas that are accessible within seconds. Place them in easy-to-grab spots, near exits.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends having at least one fire extinguisher on every floor of the home.
The first location should be the kitchen. More than half of all fires in the home begin in the kitchen. In fact, the U.S. Fire Administration says kitchens are the place where fires most often start in a home. If a fire extinguisher is easily available, most grease fires can quickly be contained. However, not where not to put the fire extinguisher is also important. Do not store the extinguisher near a stove or oven. Keep it near a door near the kitchen. This should keep it away from danger areas while also making it easily accessible.
Many home fires happen during the overnight hours. This is why the master bedroom is a good place to store a fire extinguisher.
If your home has a garage, large or small, make sure a fire extinguisher is kept there and is easily accessible. In addition to housing our cars, a garage is often used as a storage facility. It is not uncommon for paints and building materials to be left in a garage without giving it a second thought. These things can spark a fire. The best location to mount a fire extinguisher in the garage is near the door.
Fire extinguishers in business locations are also vital. Life Safety Service & Supply has experienced service technicians who work with building owners to ensure fire extinguishers are in the proper locations and are up to code.
If your building’s life safety equipment was tested tomorrow, would you pass? If you’re unsure of your answer, it’s time to think about the actual cost of maintaining life safety equipment. We estimate that it costs $450 for one employee to accurately complete inspections and repairs of 50 units. This is estimating a cost of about $35 per hour including salary, benefits, and vehicle. That is approximately 13 hours to properly care for 50 units. With monthly and yearly requirements from the National Electrical Code, and OSHA, that 13 hours and $450 cost will need to be done every month. Actual times vary depending on the skill of the employee, and the size of the building, but in general there is money being used, and time being spent on an employee that is untrained, and inexperienced with life safety equipment.
The cost of maintenance rises with every dollar your staff spends on updating and repairing equipment. There are ways in which facilities can save on cost of repair, but they must be done with the correct retailers to provide optimal savings, and quality. Most facilities purchase necessary equipment on an as needed basis. Meanwhile life safety equipment professionals are able to purchase supplies in bulk and use on an as needed basis, passing that savings onto the client.
At the end of the day the true cost of having an in-house maintenance team member responsible for life safety equipment is what happens when there is an emergency and life safety equipment fails. Life safety equipment is set to strict standards because they save lives. Without proper management they’re unable to perform in dire situations, and can lead to property damage, and in the worst cases, loss of life. The margin of error when it comes to in-house employees is too high of a risk, and not worth it. As a business specializing in life safety equipment we urge our potential and current clients to take a proactive approach to life safety equipment management. Not only are there knowledgeable professionals who can properly maintain, log, and track your life safety equipment, but in most cases it will cost you less than the 13 hours and $450 you’re spending in house.
The importance of properly maintained life safety equipment is immeasurable. Studies show that life safety equipment is often found not in compliance with strict fire and safety codes. The consequences to improper maintenance can range from property damage and costly insurances claims, to live lost due to inability to safely exit a building in times of trouble. Trusting in-house maintenance staff to responsibly maintain your life safety equipment can truly be a matter of life or death. Here are three reasons why life safety equipment shouldn’t be left in a custodian’s hands.
1. Different equipment means different voltages, batteries, lamps, chargers, etc.
The amount of life safety equipment in buildings such as schools, city halls, corrections facilities, or corporate offices is extensive. Many emergency lighting systems feature many different types of bulbs all with different wattages, and batteries can range in size and voltage. Your building could have several different brands throughout that all have different requirements for peak usage. In most cases a member of the custodial staff is not trained to manage the variety of life safety equipment needs that one building has.
2. Time vs. Ability
Even if your in-house maintenance team member is able to figure out everything that is needed to keep your building to OSHA standards, how much time are they spending to do that? Is their time (and salary) being spent wisely? Correctly inspecting and repairing life safety equipment takes time, and precision. Lack of training mixed with the inconsistency of a maintenance worker’s day means that the likelihood of their inspections and repairs being accurate is slim. We’ve visited buildings using in-house staff and found that emergency lighting units suffer from a minimum 20% failure rate. Sometimes it’s even higher.
3. Codes & Compliance
The National Electrical Code, the NFPA Life Safety Code, and OSHA require that every emergency lighting unit be checked for 30 seconds monthly, and 90 minutes annually. They also require record keeping logs that are subject to review by inspectors. If you were asked to provide a detailed log of your life safety maintenance would you be able to? No matter how well your in-house maintenance team is, there are always other responsibilities that need to be tended to, and ones that are much more noticeable by every day building occupants. This leads to skipped inspections, inaccurate logs, and avoidable consequences.
There is no denying the benefit of having an employee be responsible for maintaining the property. They’re on the payroll, and they know the building. However, when it comes to life safety equipment there is a very fine line between who is capable and who is professional. The lives that pass through your building deserve to be surrounded by up to date life safety equipment that will make sure they have a way to safety in case of an emergency. Don’t leave such important equipment to in-house staff that will waste time and money that could be used to guarantee your buildings safety.