Fire Dangers in Unoccupied Buildings

Integrated Fire SystemsFire & Life Safety Updates

Are Your Buildings Still Getting Their Fire and Life Safety Inspections?

Around the world people are sheltering in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This has led to businesses closing their doors and millions of people either getting laid off or starting to work from home. These unprecedented times are calling for unprecedented measures which are leaving millions of commercial and industrial buildings unoccupied or with significantly lower occupancy.

Dangers of Unoccupied Buildings

Buildings that are empty are still at risk of fire. They may even be at a greater risk, because now the building will rely 100% on the fire and life safety system to alert the local authorities of the fire and stop the spread of the fire until the fire department can arrive on site.

This means that it is extremely important that your fire and life safety system is in proper working order. There are a lot of moving pieces that make up your fire and life safety systems. In order to ensure that you and your building will be protected it is important that you keep up with the following during this pandemic (links will take you to previous posts detailing these topics):

  • Fire Alarm Monitoring – 24/7 monitoring of your system. Our central station will alert us if any signals are coming through. If there is a fire at your property the fire department will be dispatched immediately upon alert from your monitoring system.
  • Fire Alarm Annual Inspections – To ensure that all of the devices in your fire alarm system are in proper working order and are communicating with our monitoring center.
  • Battery Testing – To ensure that your battery backups have enough charge to power your devices in the event of a power outage.
  • Fire Sprinkler Inspections – To ensure that your fire sprinkler systems are in proper working order so they will activate in the event of a fire.
NFPA Recommendations
  • All commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings should maintain fully operational fire and life safety systems as required by the applicable codes and standards. (NFPA 25, NFPA 72, NFPA 101)
  • Those responsible for these buildings should adhere to the expected schedules for inspection, testing, and maintenance that are vital to their operation. If you are unable to do so, you should contact your location authority having jurisdiction.
  • Systems of construction sites that are being temporarily abandoned should remain in operating condition as specified in the construction safety plan.
  • Doors in fire-protected rated construction and smoke barriers are passive systems within the building fire safety program. Blocking open smoke or fire protection rated doors can compromise the integrity of a building’s compartmentation plan. Maintaining these opening protectives is critical, especially for health-care occupancies.
  • Emergency power systems are integral to building operation during emergency events (fire and power loss) and the ITM (inspections, testing, maintenance) requirements. Without emergency power systems in proper working order, fire alarm systems may not work as intended.
The Upside to Unoccupied Buildings

On a normal day it can feel like a hassle to get your fire and life safety inspections, but you do so to ensure the safety of yourself, your occupants, and your building. The same goes for in the event of a pandemic. The plus side is, if your building is unoccupied or has lower occupancy, then less people will be affected by our technicians performing their inspections.

Here at IFS we are also taking COVID-19 very seriously. All of our technicians have been provided with PPE to ensure that they are keeping themselves and our customers as safe as possible during their inspections. As stated in our blog post from March 17, 2020 we have implemented new safety protocols to ensure that our employees:

  • Do not come to work if they are experiencing the following symptoms:
    • Fever, cough, shortness of breath, stuffy nose, sore throat
  • Do not have physical contact with each other or our customers. This includes: handshakes, high fives, fist bumps, and hugs.
  • Keep 6ft distance between customers and coworkers.
  • Wash their hands before and after interaction with customers and coworkers.
  • Use the following items when necessary:
    • Booties, mask, and respirators.

Since this blog post we also instated the following additional safety protocols:

  • All technicians have Clorox to clean their tools in-between each location that they visit.
  • Buffs have been provided for constant face covering.
  • Gloves have been provided to wear during inspections/service.

We understand that it can be scary to let people into your business, but as an essential infrastructure it is as important as ever to make sure that your fire and life safety systems will protect you and your property in the event of a fire.

-The IFS Team