Fire Safety for your New Business

Opening a new business comes with a long list of important things to do. There are so many different codes, requirements, regulations, and smaller projects that come with the big project of opening a new business, or even expanding a current one. If you’re feeling a little confused about what kind of fire safety equipment your new building needs in order to be properly protected, then this basic outline should help get you started:

Fire Extinguishers

Basic code indicates that there should be a fire extinguisher by every exit, however, in a larger facility there will be additional needs.  The standard need is that there should always be an extinguisher within 75 ft. of someone in the building, for businesses that require the common, Class A portable fire extinguishers.  It is also crucial that the extinguishers are mounted in an easily accessible way.  Some businesses are also required to have signs indicating the location of the extinguishers, especially if they are kept in a closet or utility space where they cannot be spotted quickly.  This OSHA article gives a basic breakdown of the requirements depending on your business.  The extinguishers must be inspected annually, and should be serviced immediately if used or displaying a gauge that reads “Empty” and is in the red zone.

Exit and Emergency Lights

Each building’s exits must be clearly indicated by an illuminated sign or by a label with additional lighting to ensure that they can be found quickly and seen readily from a distance.  They must always remain free of any decoration or obstruction that would make their purpose as an exit unclear.  Any doors to other rooms or outlets that are not exits, but could be confused as such due to appearance or location, must be marked “Not an Exit”. to guard against confusion.  If the way to reach an exit is not obvious from any point in the building, there must be signs posted, equipped with proper lighting, to easily direct someone to their nearest outlet.  Regular inspection of emergency and exit lights is essential if you want to avoid being cited for a dead or broken light.

Fire Detection

All businesses must be equipped with some form of fire detection.  Often small businesses can meet compliance with smoke detectors, some wired to fire alarm systems, while other, larger buildings will require a sprinkler system, also attached to an alarm.  The important thing is that your building have one main component: a way to alert employees/customers that there is a fire through the use of visual and auditory aides.  If your business has detectors, they must also have lights that flash.  If using a sprinkler system, there must be emergency lights that will indicate an emergency situation.  Fire detection is only effective if it lets the building inhabitants know that a fire is present, and warns everyone early enough to escape.

For more specific information about fire safety requirements, this OSHA webpage is a good place to start.  Please call your local Pye-Barker fire safety specialist to schedule a free survey of your facility, to determine the unique fire protection needs of your business or building.