Checklists for Fire Inspection

Written by john landers
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Checklists for Fire Inspection
A fire-inspection checklist can help save lives when used appropriately. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

A fire-inspection checklist outlines the items a building manager or owner should employ to assure the structure remains free of potential fire hazards. In addition, the checklist reduces the likelihood that the owner or agent will miss important items that could result in a failed inspection. The list applies to homes, business, care facilities and other structures to make sure they are safe and free of potential fire hazards.

Access and Egress

Ensure that the building number address can be clearly identified from the street. Remove all obstructions on the exterior that could impede fire-department access. Eliminate vegetation that presents a fire hazard. Maintain a 3-foot clearance around fire hydrants. Exit ways and doors must be clearly recognisable, free of obstructions and operating properly. Main exit door with legally permitted key-locking hardware must have a sign above the door that reads "THIS DOOR MUST REMAIN UNLOCKED DURING BUSINESS HOURS."

Other exit doors must remain unlocked during business hours and easy to open without the use of a key. Keep doors and exits free from storage of hazardous and combustible materials. Remove any blockage from fire doors.

Eliminate Electrical Hazards

Electrical sockets, switches and junction boxes must have proper cover plates. The system must be free of possible shock or electrical hazards. Maintain at least a 30-inch clearance in the front of electrical circuit-breaker panels. Use extension cords temporarily for small appliances. Inspect the cords for frayed sheathing and damaged prongs on the plug. Cords must have a grounding device and the necessary amperage for the rated capacity of the appliance. Plug multiple items into the proper power-supply tap with a built-in circuit breaker. Plug the power tap into a permanent receptacle. Do not run cords under carpeting or other floor coverings.

Check Lighting and Emergency Exits

Ensure that all emergency lighting is operating and in good condition. All means of egress must have the proper illumination during occupancy. If local ordinances require exit signs, check them for adequate illumination, or self-illumination, if applicable. Verify that backup battery supplies for exit lights work properly. Push the test button; the sign should light up under battery power.

Inspect Smoke Detectors and Fire Equipment

Each year, check smoke detectors in common areas, such as corridors and basements. Check the batteries in battery-operated smoke detectors every six months and replace them each year. Building fire alarm systems must undergo an annual test, and test results should be posted as required. Fire extinguishers must have the appropriate minimum rating; place extinguishers where they will be readily accessible --- visible and unobstructed --- in case of fire. Mount the fire extinguishers in the proper locations and near exit doors as required by fire codes. The travel distance to fire extinguishers should also follow ordinance requirements, such as a location within 75 feet from any area of the building. Attached to the fire extinguishers must be the proper service or inspection tag from a fire-extinguisher company bearing a date within the previous 12 months.

Fire Separation & Sprinklers

Fire separation objects, such as firewalls, fire doors or automatic smoke doors, must be maintained in good working condition. Fire sprinkler systems must meet the rules for the distance --- such as 18 inches --- between the top of any type of combustible storage and the overhead sprinkler heads. Have fire sprinklers inspected every 12 months by a qualified sprinkler company. Commercial hood suppression systems in food-service establishments must undergo proper servicing, such as within the past six months. Perform cleaning at the necessary intervals to prevent grease build-up.

Appliance, Hazards Housekeeping

Make sure portable electric heaters are plugged directly into wall outlets and used safely. Maintain a minimum clearance of three feet from combustible items. Maintain adequate clearance between heaters, light fixtures and flame-producing devices and combustible storage. Remove combustible materials stored in containers outside vaults or rooms each day. Oily rags or similar materials must be contained within metal or metal-lined containers and covered properly. Make sure combustible decorations are flame retardant. Provide the proper ventilation and exhaust for water heaters, furnaces and other gas appliances. Maintain a safe clearance between gas-fired appliances and combustible materials.

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