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quick left 15While many measures are taken to prepare for California’s annual wildfire season, your property is at risk for fires all year. Whether the cause stems from an electrical problem, arson or tenant negligence, you can help minimize potential damage by properly planning and ensuring that your building is up to code.

To get you started, here’s a quick list of things you can do to ensure the safety of all those who occupy the building:

Construction: Building construction type and fire resistive rating should be consistent throughout the building and maintained in good repair. All structural members should be fireproofed, and proper interior and ceiling finishes should be used. Fire doors should be checked to make sure they operate properly, and vertical shaft enclosures should be in good repair.

Exits: Proper corridor construction and opening protection should be provided. On each floor, there should be at least two separate means of exiting the building that are clearly labeled, unobstructed and free of storage. Exit ways and exit signs should be visible and properly illuminated. Corridors are not used as part of the air distribution system.

Mechanical/Electrical: Regular testing and maintenance of fire dampers, smoke detectors and similar devices is essential, in addition to frequent checks of the heating, cooling and ventilation equipment. Areas designated for removing combustible products should be well-ventilated, and building air circulation systems should be equipped with override switches in locations that allow for manual control. All electrical wiring, fixtures and appliances should be safely and properly installed.

Fire Extinguishing: All first-aid firefighting equipment should be properly located, and fire extinguishing systems should be maintained. Water supply controls should be unobstructed and either locked or supervised. When your building is undergoing a renovation, take care not to obstruct sprinklers or create unprotected spaces.

Fire Alarm/Warning Systems: Testing and maintenance of fire alarm and warning systems, as well as occupant voice notification and fire department communication systems should be performed regularly.

Miscellaneous Tips: Elevators should be equipped with fire department recall, and sensing devices should be checked periodically. Elevator lobbies should be separated from the corridor and the remainder of the building. If the building has a kitchen, any range hoods, vents, fans, ducts and filters should be cleaned and kept free of grease. The kitchen should not be used as a space for excess storage.

For more tips and information on how to protect your property, visit the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection or your own state’s fire protection agency.
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