NFPA has released a “Fire and Life Safety Checklist for Reopening a Building” to assist building owners and facility managers in reopening businesses after Coronavirus shutdowns.
Many businesses have been either closed entirely or open with restrictions for several months. The purpose of this checklist is to ensure building safety as business owners prepare to reintroduce occupants to buildings that have been vacant or with limited occupancy. All business owners should review these guidelines before safely reopening to full occupancy to ensure the safety of your facility.
Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, the NFPA has encouraged the maintenance of all fire protection and life safety systems in commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings. Despite shutdowns, the organization has been an advocate for essential services like fire protection companies to continue operations as a public safety concern.
The NFPA also realizes that many of the essential ongoing inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) activities required by locally enforced codes and standards may not have been completed for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the level of ITM performed during this time, it’s imperative that building owners and facility managers verify the performance of all building fire protection and life safety systems prior to reoccupation.
Fire protection precautions
A licensed fire protection professional should help building owners in reviewing NFPA’s list of factors to be confirmed prior to reopening. A professional can more effectively ensure the safety of all occupants of the building.
However, if your building was in compliance prior to closure, NFPA’s checklist can be a resource in providing some initial steps to ensure that the occupancy is safe enough to reopen until a qualified professional can complete the regularly scheduled ITM of all fire protection and life safety systems.
Dangers to watch for
While this is not a complete list, it does contain many of the items that can be addressed and confirmed by a building owner or facility manager during their initial work to reopen a building. NFPA’s checklist includes the following steps:
❑ All inspection, testing, and maintenance is up to date on the following systems or building elements:
❑ Water-based fire protection system (NFPA 25)
❑ Fire pumps (NFPA 25)
❑ Fire alarm system (NFPA 72)
❑ Commercial cooking equipment ventilation and fire protection (NFPA 96)
❑ Portable fire extinguishers (NFPA 10)
❑ Fire/smoke dampers (NFPA 80 and NFPA 105)
❑ All fire doors (NFPA 80 and 101)
❑ Emergency lighting equipment (NFPA 101)
❑ Exit signs (NFPA 101)
❑ Appropriate fire department access is unobstructed. (NFPA 1)
❑ For wildfire-prone areas, routine maintenance of combustible vegetation has been completed. (NFPA 1)
❑ Hand sanitizers or alcohol-based hand rubs are stored and managed safely (NFPA 101), and if needed, learn more at https://youtu.be/1P3GjIBKwI8.
❑ Required personnel are familiar and trained in accordance with the emergency action plan (NFPA 101).
❑ Check with the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to find out if they require any special provisions prior to reoccupying the building.
Water-Based Systems (NFPA 25)
❑ All control valves are open.
❑ Gauges are operable and not physically damaged.
❑ Water filled piping is maintained above 40 F (4 C).
❑ Sprinklers are not physically damaged.
❑ There are no leaks from the piping or sprinklers.
❑ Fire department connections are accessible and not physically damaged.
❑ Hose connections (if provided) are accessible and not physically damaged.
Fire Alarm Systems (NFPA 72)
❑ There are no trouble, supervisory, or alarm signals.
❑ Notification appliances are not blocked or physically damaged.
❑ Initiating devices (smoke detectors, heat detectors, etc.,) are not physically damaged.
❑ Manual pull stations are accessible and not physically damaged.
Fire Extinguishers (NFPA 10)
❑ Fire extinguishers are accessible and not physically damaged.
❑ Pressure gauge reading, or indicator is in the operable range or position on all fire extinguishers.
Means of Egress (NFPA 101)
❑ All means of egress paths are unobstructed.
❑ All doors in the means of egress are working properly and not physically damaged.
❑ All doors are operable from egress side.
❑ All doors are not physically blocked.
❑ All fire doors are working properly and not physically damaged.
❑ All fire doors latch.
❑ All required lighting in the means of egress is functioning properly.
❑ Means of egress is illuminated when occupied.
❑ Emergency lighting is not blocked or physically damaged.
❑ Exit signs are not blocked or physically damaged.
❑ Exit signs are properly illuminated.
Electrical (NFPA 70B and NFPA 110)
❑ Confirm that routine maintenance and operational testing is completed for the following:
❑ Electrical equipment per the building’s Electrical Preventative Maintenance Program.
❑ Emergency and standby power systems.
Building modification requirements
NFPA warns “any alterations to the building that adhere to public health guidelines, such as the installation of physical barriers or automatic door openers, will need to be evaluated to ensure that they are properly designed and installed and do not negatively impact the fire protection and life safety systems currently in place.”
In short, if your building has changed its layout, what is stored, or what is manufactured, a fire protection professional should be consulted to make sure your existing fire protection system is appropriate for the hazard type and design of your building. Your buildings fire protection system is specifically designed for your business. Any and all changes may put your business in danger of fire code violation. Contact a fire protection professional to make sure you are still in compliance.
Fire Systems, Inc.
Fire Systems is your trusted partner in fire protection. We are an all-services company, specializing in fire alarm, fire sprinkler, suppression, vehicle systems, and more. One company, all services, that’s our motto and our goal for your business. Our expert technicians can design, install, inspect, and repair all aspects of your building’s fire protection system. We also offer fire alarm monitoring. Our goal is to keep your business safe and compliant, even during these trying times. Contact us today at 770-333-7979 or visit our website for more information.