Common Issues

October, 29 2021 Published by North Alberta Chapter

Fire Safety: More than Smoke Alarm Inspections

From the North Alberta Chapter: Vol. 27, Issue 1 - Fall 2021 of Insite to Condos

The leaves are changing, frost is in the forecast, and there’s a decided autumn chill in the air. As we all move toward preparing for winter, we need to keep fire safety in mind

We all know that we need to keep smoke alarms and sprinkler systems inspected and in working condition. But even with regular inspections of our alarm systems, fires still happen and when they do, they are dangerous, expensive, and incredibly disruptive.

Fire prevention is a critical part of condominium risk management. There are some things that boards can to do help prevent fires and keep your condominium community safe in the event of a fire in your complex.

Even in complexes without indoor common property (bareland, townhouse style, etc.) it’s a good idea to remind owners about these fire prevention and emergency management best practices, as a fire in one unit can negatively impact the whole condominium.

  • Develop a Fire Safety Plan and review it annually. What your fire safety plan looks like will depend on your condominium, but at minimum it should include emergency procedures to follow in the event of a fire, evacuation routes and procedures, and information on any board members or staff who have responsibilities in the event of a fire. The Alberta Fire Code requires certain kinds of buildings to have a Fire Safety Plan, but even in condominiums where it’s not required it’s a good best practice.
  • Make sure someone knows your complex’s systems. Do you have a complex-wide fire system (note that they are required by law in certain kinds of multi-unit residential buildings). Does someone on site or at your condominium management company have access to and know how to access the panel? How does your HVAC system interact with your fire alarm system? Where are your utility shut offs? Does your building have back-up generators, and if yes, what do they run?
  • Develop and stick to an inspection schedule for systems that pose fire hazards. Many building systems represent a fire risk if they are not properly maintained including furnaces and heating systems, dryer vents, chimneys, and fireplaces. Work with a qualified professional to ensure your building systems are getting the care they need to prevent system malfunctions.
  • Develop and stick to an inspection schedule for fire prevention systems. Smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and sprinklers all require regular inspections and maintenance. These inspection requirements are regulated by the Fire Code and the Building Code.
  • Remind residents about fire prevention & emergency planning. When you are notifying members of upcoming fire alarm testing, it’s a good time to also include information about what they can do to support fire prevention in your condominium. You may wish to remind them about any rules or bylaws that address fire hazards, what to do in case of a fire in their unit, and any maintenance or inspections that are the responsibility of the owner including ensuite appliances.

WITH FILES FROM CCI HURONIA & THE CANADA FIRE SAFETY ASSOCIATION

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