September marks the beginning of fall, back-to-school, and “Campus Fire Safety Month.”
While students are gearing up to hit the books once again, facilities managers are busy maintaining safety in anticipation of the impending occupancy in classrooms and college housing. How are you helping protect the students and faculty of your facility?
Here are a few tips to help during the back-to-school season:
Maintain Life Safety Systems
The most important aspect of protecting campuses goes directly to maintaining life safety systems, such as fire dampers, fire doors and firestopping. These systems are not only required by code for regular maintenance, but they aid in saving lives and preventing excessive property damage during a fire. Fire dampers are required by code for inspection every 4 years, and fire doors are required for inspection annually. Life safety systems effectively compartmentalize a building and contain fire and smoke within one area, so the main corridors are protected for evacuation, and smoke and fire do not permeate throughout the building. This will also minimize the amount of damage on a building, which could be especially important in older buildings like college campuses with old artifacts and history. Fire dampers, fire doors, and fire walls also protect egress routes from filling with smoke, to help occupants make their way out of a burning facility, making life safety one of the more important aspects of a building. If you’re not sure what is required by code for these life safety systems, you can reference our blog for code requirements.
Educate the Students and Faculty on Fire Safety
Tampering with devices that are designed to protect against fires is a common issue on-campus. Types of devices range from smoke detectors, dampers in the air vent, propping doors open, etc. When a smoke detector is low on battery, the constant reminding “chirps” can become bothersome, which can cause a person to unplug it entirely and leave the area with no system for alert during an emergency. Another huge issue we see in many facilities, not just on-campus, are propped open fire dampers or fire doors. If a fire damper is not up to code, it may become permanently closed due to a broken fusible link, faulty actuator, etc. This can cut off airflow in a room, and occupants may try to take matters into their own hands rather than reporting it to a facility manager to have it repaired. Fire doors should always be able to self-close in the case of a fire. Propping open a fire-rated door could pose a huge threat to occupants as it allows fire and smoke to travel much more rapidly throughout the building. Posting signs that deter students and faculty from leaving a door open could easily prevent this issue, but more importantly, addressing these issues immediately when they are seen is most important.
Ensure Evacuation Routes are Clearly Labeled
Evacuation routes should be properly marked and available for easy access in the event of an emergency or fire. Photoluminescent egress systems and well lit “exit” signs are crucial for guiding students and faculty out of harm’s way. Older campuses may have exit signs that don’t fully illuminate or are hard to see, so we suggest installing photoluminescent egress and exit signs to eliminate the possibility of being hard to see. These systems require little maintenance, and recharge daily from natural sunlight and other ambient light already in use inside the facility. While these systems will help occupants on-campus see the pathway for evacuation, they also save energy and money by not having to use a power source.
Building managers can help limit the amount of building damage and lives lost in an unexpected fire with proper maintenance of life safety systems. Start the school year off on the right foot by ensuring these systems are up to code, and also save your facility from any citations or penalties from the Fire Marshal or any other AHJ. Educating staff and students on how to deal or manage if the situation arises is also a key component to keeping the damage to a minimum. Keep your building, staff and students safe this year and ensure all your bases are covered to protect against an accident or fire.
Maintain Life Safety Systems with PREVENT
The team at PREVENT Life Safety understand the importance life safety systems make in a facility under harm. Our teams of expert technicians have conducted many damper inspections on college campuses and understand the importance of keeping students and faculty safe. We perform inspections and maintenance in a thorough and timely manner, and can repair any deficiencies that may come up during inspection. Our technicians maintain a professional appearance and are respectful of the educational environment.
Give us a call at 877-392-6074 or request a free quote online to maintain your life safety systems.