Are you having trouble keeping your fire barriers in check? Your fire walls, fire doors, and fire dampers are all a part of your fire protection system that must be maintained for code compliance. Recently, fire barrier penetrations, fire door issues and duct issues were recognized as the third most cited deficiency on Joint Commission (TJC) Surveys. Making sure there are no penetrations in your barriers, each component of your fire doors is up to code, and each one of your dampers are installed and working correctly is no easy feat. But there are steps you can take to properly maintain your barriers that will make your life easier, help you avoid citations on your TJC survey, and most importantly, work towards keeping your building occupants safe.
Here’s the top 3 tips for maintaining your fire barriers
1. Plan Ahead
Keeping track of past inspection frequencies and scheduling future inspections can help you stay organized. This can be done by developing a maintenance plan or setting up a maintenance program for each element of fire protection system. Doors need to be inspected annually. If you have a large amount of doors in your facility, starting inspections and repairs as early as possible is vital for timely compliance. Also, open penetrations in your barriers are never okay. Make sure you check for possible penetrations periodically throughout the year. If you are lacking the time and resources, hiring a third-party contractor to set-up a quarterly or monthly firestop maintenance plan is also a great option. They should not only have the ability to check and repair your fire doors, fire dampers, and barrier penetrations but should also provide effective maintenance programs that adhere to your time frame and budget. This will ensure your bases are always covered and inspections and repairs are not only done on time, but are done right.
2. Know What’s Expected
NFPA code requires all the fire doors in your facility to be inspected annually and for repairs to begin without delay.
Fire and smoke dampers must be inspected every 4 years in MOB’s and every 6 years in hospitals.
NFPA 80 requires that any penetrations in fire-rated barriers be firestopped without delay.
This is just a brief overview of inspection frequency requirements. NFPA and other codes go over exactly what needs to be inspected, how it should be inspected, and documentation requirements. Knowing these codes is an important step in having a stress-free TJC survey. Again, if you are lacking the time and the resources – hiring an experienced outside source can be helpful. Make sure they are code experts and know exactly what’s required for your fire barriers to be in complete compliance.
3. Proper Documentation
Documenting all inspections, deficiencies, and repairs is the icing on the cake when it comes to compliance. You’ve put in the hard work and now the important part is that you can properly communicate this to your surveyor. Make sure your documentation is detailed, up to date, and organized. If you are using an outside contractor make sure they provide you with detailed reports that include all requirements. Once you have everything documented, keep your findings in a safe place. When it’s time for your survey you should have no issues providing your surveyor with all the information they need.
Your fire doors, fire dampers and fire walls work together to help compartmentalize smoke and help occupants evacuate safely in the face of a fire. Each element of your fire barriers needs to be consistently maintained in order to be code compliant and work exactly as it’s intended to. Planning ahead, knowing what’s expected of you, and keeping detailed documentation will help you stay on top of your fire barrier compliance. Implementing these three tips can make your surveys less stressful and most importantly, keep your building occupants safe.
PREVENT Life Safety can inspect and repair your fire doors and fire dampers, survey and seal any penetrations in your barriers, and provide detailed documentation for each service we provide. Interested in learning more about our maintenance programs? Learn more here.