Commercial fire protection is not just about preventing a fire. A complete fire protection system has measures in place for every stage: preventing, minimizing, and cleaning up. Hotel and motel fires result in about $76 million in property damage annually. It is ideal for a company that operates from a large building, such as a data center or hotel, to have implemented a good commercial fire protection system so as to minimize loss of property and potential danger.
Did you know that if a renovation at a hotel requires turning off the fire alarm, even for a limited amount of time in one 24 hour period, the hotel is required to call the nearest hospital and the fire department to be put on a fire watch? It may seem like more trouble than is warranted, but safety is a precaution that must always be taken. This is why commercial fire protection is about so much more than installing a fire sprinkler system and calling it a day. Property management is responsible for coming up with protocols for employees to take for certain situations. Information in this case needs to be shared.
Commercial fire protection should start with each employee, everyday. Egress routes need to be taught, drills need to be practiced, and the appropriate phone numbers should be available to everyone. An accident does not care if it is someone’s first day on the job; in this instance, you may only be as safe as the least knowledgeable person on your team. If it becomes obvious that employees are uncertain of what to do in case of a fire, it is a problem that needs to be rectified immediately. This is the time to review the employee fire safety manual and make any revisions for clarity as necessary.
Once employees know what to do when disaster strikes, it is time to review the measures already in place. If, after careful prevention a fire still breaks out, the only thing to do is try to minimize the damage it will cause. For example, a very strong sprinkler system might put out a fire very quickly, but may also cause water damage to the room. While a little damp is preferable to a pile of ashes, it is possible to install a quick-response fire sprinkler system that will only release eight to 25 gallons of water per minute, as opposed to 80 to 120 gallons of water per minute from a fire house.
Commercial fire protection comes down to two simple measures. One is ensuring your people are well-trained in case of an emergency of this kind. This means they know how to stay calm, call the right people, and help direct people to a safe area. The second measure is finding a method that will allow the fire to be contained and put out without causing excessive property damage in the process. The key is to know your people, and to know your building.