When dust accumulates
on an electric fan motor
like this, a spark or heat
from the motor could
easily ignite it.
This strobe is hidden
behind a plant where
it can’t be seen easily
during an emergency.
Never use the fire stairs
for storage. During an
emergency, these boxes
will slow or stop people
from trying to evacuate.
Overloaded plugs are
a fire waiting to happen. This setup daisy-chains multiple power
strips, increasing the risk
of overheated wiring
that can lead to a fire.
Some building tenants will even lock fire exits as a theft deterrent,
which could backfire badly if there’s an emergency and people need
to evacuate, adds Rob Neale, principal of Integra Code Consultants.
You don’t want to have people struggling to unlock a door during an
7) Not testing generators and pumps well enough.
Owners tend to assume that if the generator or pump starts and
runs successfully for a few minutes, it’s good to go.
“Our test protocols want the engine to start, run and make sure it’s
running long enough to come up to operating temperature, but on an
annual basis we also want to make sure everything is working, so we
have a requirement for you to discharge water at the rate of capacity
of the fire pump,” Solomon says.
“What we’re doing there is making sure it’s still performing the way
it was intended,” Solomon adds. “If the flow isn’t what it should be,
that could be evidence of a closed or partially closed valve upstream.
With the generator, you want to make sure it’s providing the appropriate power output to the emergency systems.”
8) Compromising fire doors.
9) Neglected exit signs.
“Fire doors are designed to create a barrier between various parts
of a building, so if part of it catches on fire, the door closes automati-
cally and protects the rest of the space,” Neale explains. “The trouble
with fire doors is that they’re inconvenient because every time you go
through it, it closes behind you, so people prop them open.”
“A lot of buildings have exit signs that perform the function of both
lighting the sign and downlighting the exit path and those burn out
fairly regularly,” Neale says. “Those often get overlooked because
people say they’ll get around to it eventually.”
10) Overtaxed electrical equipment.
Daisy-chained power strips are extremely common and can lead to
fires by overheating electrical outlets, Neale says.
computer screens or send out
automated texts or phone calls to
make sure everyone who needs to
receive the message is able to get it.
"That's going to cost more money,
but the building owner might say
'It's worth the extra investment for
safety and I'm willing to pay for en-
hanced features,'" Solomon says. B
Janelle Penny janelle.penny@
buildings.com is a senior writer
NFPA ( nfpa.org): The National Fire Protection Association has developed more than 300
codes and standards covering every aspect
of fire and other safety risks. View any of the
codes for free online or order a hard copy.
ICC ( iccsafe.org): The International Code
Council develops the International Fire Code.
Order a copy of the code, or make it easier to
manage your fire protection system with the
Fire Inspector’s Guide or Fire Code Essentials.
OSHA ( osha.gov): OSHA includes fire safety
guidance among its other occupational health
and safety resources. This e-book translates
code requirements into easy-to-understand
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This hotel has a fire door
propped open. If there’s
a fire, it will spread faster
and more easily through