5 Common Fire Safety Violations

For business owners, maintaining a commercial fire safety system is crucial for day-to-day protection. Ensuring your system and its components are in order is especially important when your business’ fire inspection occurs each year. Even if you do everything you can to prepare for your next fire inspection, you may only realize you missed something when the fire marshal notices the issue. Receiving citations and paying fines for fire code violations can be frustrating, so it’s essential to do everything you can to prepare for an inspection and avoid penalties. Here are 5 of the most common fire safety violations to avoid.

1. Damaged, expired, or missing fire extinguishers

For most business owners, fire extinguishers are easy to set and forget. They sit in their designated spots and can be forgotten between inspections, so checking your extinguishers for damage and potential violations before an inspection is crucial.

First, make sure that your fire extinguishers are where they are supposed to be. If a fire extinguisher is missing, you should find or replace it before the inspection. Requirements for placement can vary between states, so review your respective state’s fire codes between inspections. Wherever the extinguisher is located, ensure it is easily accessible and not blocked by other objects. You should replace your fire extinguisher if any of these signs are present:

  • The pressure gauge is decreasing
  • There are cracks or clogs in the hose
  • The handle is broken
  • The pin is broken
  • The shell is damaged


2. Blocked exits

Blocked exits are a widespread violation for businesses. It can be momentarily convenient to leave deliveries in a hallway or store goods in front of a doorway, but every exit in your business should remain unobstructed. Any blocked hallway, stairwell, or entrance should be cleared before an inspection.

In addition to obstructions around an exit, the exit itself should allow any occupants to leave the building quickly. If there are issues with a fire marshal’s ability to open an exit point, that will result in a violation that needs to be resolved promptly. Check your business’s exits and ensure all doors can be easily opened.

3. Faulty smoke or carbon monoxide detectors

Depending on the size of your business, you could have three to 30 smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your building. Once one starts beeping, it can be tempting to ignore it or even remove the battery temporarily. Faulty detectors can result in citations for your next inspection if left unaddressed. In an actual emergency, the consequences can be significant or even fatal.

Address issues with your detectors as soon as they arise. If one begins to chirp, replace the battery right away. Set a reminder to replace the batteries in your detectors every year to remain compliant and avoid fees. Replace devices if the expiration date has passed.


4.Obstructed emergency responder access

They look like eyesores on your building’s exterior, but fire department connections (FDCs) and fire hydrants are crucial for emergency responders. Covering or blocking any FDCs with landscaping or debris is a major mistake and a significant fire code violation. When these access points are blocked, firefighters will have greater difficulty controlling fires while avoiding injury.

Regularly check to ensure that FDCs on the exterior of your building are unobstructed and accessible. Keep fire lanes around your building clear as well. If there are any obstructions, clear them and check often to keep them clear.

5. Misused extension cords

Extension cords are an easy fix to get power where needed, but they are intended for temporary use in rooms without electricity. Continued use of an extension cord is a severe code violation prevalent among fire inspections. A significant violation involves extension cords and power strips plugged into a daisy-chain formation.

Ensure that your business only uses extension cords as a temporary solution. To avoid a citation during your next inspection, work with an electrician to add wiring and outlets to rooms without power. Confirm that the wiring is done correctly and that all electrical components have the correct plates and covers.

Keeping your business compliant with fire codes can be difficult on top of your day-to-day responsibilities, and receiving citations for violations is not something you want to have to manage and address. Our team of experts at FSS Technologies can help you prepare for inspections and maintain your systems year-round.

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