You’re not the only one to get nervous when the term “annual fire inspection” gets mentioned. Many other Condo Management Board Members and Condo Property Managers experience some type of anxiety, too! Wondering what the best way is to ensure your condo building doesn’t receive a poor inspection report? Follow our four steps below to get your building’s common areas fire-inspection ready.
Ensure All Escape Routes are Clear
Corridors, doorways and stairways throughout your common areas must be kept clear and accessible at all times. Any debris or obstructions must be removed. This is referred to as means of egress: a continuous and obstructed way of exit travel from any point in a building or structure to a public way.
Make sure that any exit doors comply with building code, are easily opened by one person and aren’t kept locked.
Get Your Electrical In Order
Your fire inspector will spend a lot of time checking that your building’s electrical equipment is safe. And it’s for good reason: faulty electrical systems are a leading cause of building fires.
To help the inspection go smoothly, ensure your electrical systems are in working order prior to the fire inspector’s arrival. Check that the emergency lights and exit signs work in both normal and emergency power modes and ensure cover plates cover electrical outlets, junction boxes and circuit breaker panels. Never substitute extension or power cords for permanent wiring!
Confirm that Your Fire Equipment and Fire Safety Plan is Up-to-Date
As of April 1, 2010, all new residential condo buildings four storeys or higher require a sprinkler system. This system must be inspected and serviced regularly and the sprinkler tree must be accessible.
Similarly, your fire alarm system and smoke alarms must be kept regularly inspected and serviced. The fire department lock-box should be installed with current keys and the fire alarm panel must be accessible.
A fire safety plan, which includes emergency procedures to follow in case of an emergency, must be kept current and be posted.
Most likely, you’ve outsourced your monthly fire inspections. If that’s the case, all you need to do is get out your paperwork, which should be kept on site, to show the fire inspector upon his/her arrival.
Check that Your Furniture Meets Fire Regulations
Due to recent multi-residential fires in the Toronto area where combustible furniture was found as the source, your common area’s seating will be the main target.
Before the inspector arrives, be ready to prove that your furniture meets either TB 133 or or the Standard Test Method for Fire Testing of Upholstered Furniture (ASTM E1537-16). If your furniture does not meet these standards, compliance options are available to mitigate this risk. Your fire inspector will review these options with you.
Remember: Your Local Fire Department is Your Partner – Not Your Enemy!
Remember, the fire department’s main goal is to keep your building’s residents and belongings safe. Although Ontario Fire Code violations do come with the possibility of laying charges, you will have plenty of opportunity to rectify any issues before this happens.
Besides properly preparing your building for a fire inspection, you need to ensure it remains fire-safe year round. In the event of a fire, your building’s residents will thank you.
At Folio Interior Design Group, we pride ourselves on staying abreast of the latest health, safety and fire regulations regarding Toronto’s condo industry. Contact us today for more information about our services.
By Sarah McKenzie