All public facilities are subject to fire code inspections. Fire marshals will often arrive unannounced to perform inspections, and if cited, managers and building owners are responsible for rectifying any violations. In most instances, owners and managers are able to correct violations within the allotted time frame; however, there are times where violations are not corrected, and penalties such as fines and imprisonment are enforced. In order to avoid these ramifications, it is critical that managers be aware of fire code requirements, and that you have a vendor network that is looking out for your best interest.
We have seen some serious fire code violations in the field where in case of a fire, employees and store patrons would not be able to exit emergency doors, which could have fatal ramifications. In the event of a fire inspection, if left uncorrected, these violations would result in penalties. For example, in St. John’s County in FL, the owners and/or managers could be prosecuted in the same manner as a misdemeanor. If convicted, they would be punished by a fine not to exceed $500 and/or by imprisonment for up to 60 days. If the violations are severe enough, fire marshals can shut a building down until the issues are corrected. This happened to a Columbus,OH theater in August of 2009.
How to Prevent Fire Code Violations
The best way to avoid dealing with the time and cost of correcting violations is to prevent them in the first place. Before you move into a new building, you should:
- Access your cities buildings information system. This will allow you to look up complaints, violations, inspection results, and permit applications for your address.
- Check the fire department’s public records unit for any information pertaining your building.
- If you are leasing, make sure that the landlord has a valid certificate of occupancy.
Common Fire Code Violations
You can also have managers do a general check of your building(s) and correct any issues before the fire marshals perform an inspection. Below is a checklist of some of the most common fire code violations.
- Exit Signs: All exit signs must be illuminated and in proper working condition.
- Exit Doors: Marked exit doors must be:
- Unblocked – ensure that boxes or merchandise are not in the way of an exit path.
- Keep doors to hallways and stairways closed; this prevents smoke and fire from entering escape routes.
- Exiting Hardware & Security: Marked exits must be able to be opened in one motion. Inside keyed locks (as shown in the picture above) are prohibited.
- Smoke Detectors: All smoke detectors must have charged batteries and be in proper working condition.
- Fire Alarms: Many counties will require that fire alarms be tested on a regular (often weekly) basis with a written record of the tests kept.
- Fire Extinguishers: Extinguishers should have annual maintenance and inspection.
- Storage of Flammable Materials: There are limitations to the kind of flammable materials that may be stored, their quantities, and their locations. Contact your building inspector to find out the specific regulations for your area.
- Pressurized Cylinders: All pressurized cylinders must be secured from falling.
- Proper Storage:
- Exit routes and exit signs must remain unblocked.
- Combustibles cannot be stored under stairways as this is a detrimental place for a fire to starts.
- Trash should be removed every 24 hours as this is a common place for fire to start.
- In many areas, sprinkler heads must have a clearance of 18” from any materials, and buildings without sprinklers must have a 24” clearance to the ceiling.
- Rated Enclosures: Any rated enclosures (examples: doors, furnaces, water heaters, wires, etc), must not have any holes in them.
- Vent Pipes: Vent pipes need to be inspected and repaired if there are any cracks or loose seals. This prevents harmful gases like carbon monoxide from entering the building.
- Extension Cords: Any device that is permanently mounted cannot have an extension cord on it.
- Open Electrical Panels: Keep these closed at all times to avoid molten metal from flying across the room should there be a hot enough short.
How Can LockNet Help Rectify or Prevent Fire Code Violations?
LockNet partners with customers to ensure all products conform to fire code, and that any violations are prevented and/or corrected immediately. All of our technicians are well versed in local fire code regulations in regards to doors and locks, and are required to make management aware of any violations they see when on site performing repairs. Our estimators, project managers, and CSR’s are continuously trained on what is and is not allowed for special applications, and will not allow for installation of any hardware that violates fire code. If a technician makes us aware of a violation, we will ensure that both the store manager and corporate offices are aware of the infraction to ensure that it is dealt with properly.
We are aware of the time sensitive nature of fire code violation repairs and work diligently with the technician and manager to ensure that repairs are made in time. Recognizing that communication is critical, in addition to regularly touching base, our website allows our customers to log in and view real-time data and progress of service calls. We also track all repairs by opening and issue to allow for trend analysis. If we see that recurring problems exist across multiple locations, we are able to recommend different hardware to resolve the problem.