Reopening Facilities and Fire Protection System Recommendations
Many states are beginning to slowly allow businesses to reopen as states lift their stay at home orders. Since many facilities were empty or minimally occupied for weeks or even months, facility personnel need to reevaluate their facility’s fire protection systems. These systems must be fully operational before occupants return to the facility. The following are some recommendations on how to prepare your fire protection systems for your facility’s reopening.
Even though businesses were forced to shut down due to the coronavirus, fire protection systems still required regular maintenance and service. But the reality is some facilities may have fallen behind on these services. It’s the facility manager’s responsibility to evaluate the status of fire protection systems by performing the owner’s inspection. This includes getting back on track with weekly/monthly visual inspections such as checking unmonitored fire alarm control equipment, sprinkler control valves and gauges, extinguishers, fire pump etc. If any type of construction or space’s use changed during the shutdown or will change upon reopening, then a fire protection engineer must re-examine the systems. The engineer will know whether any changes are required to provide adequate protection. Also, facility managers should revisit any system service reports received prior to closing. The reports may contain deficiencies and repairs that require immediate attention before reopening facilities.
Contact Fire Protection System Service Provider
Facilities should contact their fire protection system service provider to schedule regular system services. It’s imperative to get back on track with inspection, testing, and maintenance. Be sure to address any requirements the facility has for contractors working at the site required face coverings etc. The fire protection company will have its’ own protocols in place too such as limiting the number of technicians working together. If the building limits access to in-house personnel only, then consider performing a remote video inspection. The NFPA provides guidelines on performing a remote video inspection (RVI). But check with the AHJ before pursuing this untraditional method.
Businesses will have to take steps to help protect the life safety of their occupants prior to reopening facilities. In addition to adhering to new public health guidelines, facilities will have to ensure their fire protection systems are fully functional. Facility managers and building owners should perform an owner’s inspection of fire protection systems throughout the facility. Additionally, contact a fire protection system service provider and schedule routine service and maintenance.