Play It Safe

by Katie Lee

— By Brice Bledsoe —

“Do I really need this inspection?” The answer is almost always “yes!”

In all my years working in fire and life safety (FLS), the most common question I receive from building owners/managers is, “Do I really need to get this inspection performed?” And regardless of facility or system type, almost every time the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Fire inspection codes are in place for a reason and have been developed over the last 120+ years as a result of reviewing accidents, close calls and best practices by industry experts. The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is the foremost authority on fire protection code and is a revolving panel of subject matter experts from across the globe to ensure life and property are protected from fires as best as humanly possible.

While NFPA codes are not law, states and municipalities rely on these standards to ensure property owners and managers keep their fire and life safety systems operable and ready to protect in the event of a life safety event. Not to mention, insurance companies will always start a fire investigation (where FLS systems are present) with inspection reports to ensure code is being followed and certifications are up to date. Too many times businesses have been denied a payout to assist in the repair of their property after a fire because they failed to properly maintain their systems and keep the system certifications current. Do not let your organization be one of those businesses! Fire systems are installed and designed with a purpose, so make sure they can do their jobs when needed.

If you are ever wondering how often you need to have a system inspected (cycles vary by system but typical ranges are quarterly, semiannually, annually, every 3 years and 5 years) be sure to consult with your local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), fire marshal or fire service provider. AHJs will always have the final say, so scheduling a review with your local official is a great idea to make sure you’re staying on top of things according to their wishes. But following your local NFPA guidebook is a strong start to staying compliant (most of the guide can be found online in PDF form) and is a what the AHJ refers to as well.

Remember, all fire entities are established and in place to help ensure your facility, personnel and property/goods are best kept safe in a fire or life safety event. At the end of the day, safety is the backbone of our industry, and we are proud to assist others in making sure their facilities are protected as best as possible.

While fires may not always be preventable, making sure your FLS systems are ready when called into action is as simple as staying on top of your inspection schedules by contracting with a national service provider.

Still not convinced? Here are some compelling reasons to support the implementation of regularly scheduled fire inspections:

1. Life Preservation: The primary goal of fire inspections is to save lives. Fires can escalate rapidly, leaving occupants with little time to react. By conducting regular inspections, potential fire hazards can be identified and rectified before they escalate into life-threatening situations. Firefighters and emergency responders also benefit from these inspections, as they can familiarize themselves with the layout of buildings in advance, leading to faster and more effective rescue operations.

2. Early Detection of Hazards: Fire inspections are not intended to create unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles but to identify and address potential fire hazards before they cause harm. Inspectors are trained to identify faulty wiring, blocked exits, inadequate fire extinguishers and other issues that could lead to fires. Addressing these hazards proactively reduces the likelihood of fires breaking out in the first place.

3. Property Protection: Fires don’t just pose a risk to human life; they can also result in significant property damage. Commercial establishments, residential buildings, historical sites and cultural landmarks can be irreplaceably lost in a fire. Regular inspections help to ensure that proper fire prevention measures are in place, minimizing the risk of property damage and preserving the cultural and economic value of a community.

4. Cost Savings: While it might seem counterintuitive, regular fire inspections can actually save money in the long run. The cost of responding to a fire emergency — firefighting efforts, medical treatment, property damage, insurance claims — is exponentially higher than the cost of conducting routine inspections. Investing in fire prevention through inspections is a prudent financial decision that ultimately benefits the community as a whole.

5. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Fire inspections are often required by local, state and national regulations. Failing to comply with these regulations can lead to legal consequences, fines and even closure of businesses or buildings. Regular inspections ensure that all entities are adhering to these requirements, creating a level playing field and upholding the rule of law.

So yes, that’s why that inspection is really needed!

— Brice Bledsoe is director of business development of SMG Fire, a pioneering life safety company dedicated to providing comprehensive safety solutions to multi-site retailers nationwide. SMG Fire is the newest division of SMG Holdings, LLC, whose 4 distinct brands include SMG Clean, SMG Energy, SMG Facilities and, most recently, SMG Fire.

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