Mitigating fire hazard an essential component of building construction and maintenance

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Written by Ontario Construction News staff

Fire prevention begins during planning and construction of a building, and quickly becomes the responsibility of owners and operators to keep up with the task of fire safety system maintenance during operation of the building.

Federal law changed in 2003 with the Westray Bill, which makes building executives and management officials with policy-making authority legally responsible for preventing bodily harm to any persons in their buildings.

Having a plan for both building and systems implementation is crucial to staying within fire code guidelines and keeping everyone in the building safe, but understanding all of the elements could be a big task, as Firepoint discussed in Standard Strategies’ August bulletin.

Firepoint says recognizing highly flammable construction materials, planning safe means of exit for people that will be in the building, and employing fire safety equipment in the most effective means possible are all important steps in mitigating the risk of fire that occur before construction is complete on a building. Keeping future users of the building safe relies on open communication between builders and the property owner

Further steps that should be taken during construction include building in smoke ventilation systems and ensuring proper installation of public address systems and alarms

After that, proper maintenance of all these systems falls on the building’s owners and operators.

“Each approved fire safety plan includes the code requirements for the inspection and testing of the fire alarm and sprinkler systems, as well as the maintenance to be performed on equipment such as the fire extinguishers, standpipe hoses, emergency lighting units and exit fixtures,” Firepoint said. “Special guidelines are described pertaining to the auditing requirement of the fire dampers and any automatic or semi-automatic means of fire control.”

Having the systems in place is a crucial first step, but equally important is their maintenance and upkeep, so they can operate well if they’re ever needed.

Firepoint, a Brampton-based company, develops code-compliant fire safety plans on behalf of building owners, to properly equip asset managers to properly evacuate a building’s occupants in case of fire.

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