Fire Safety Tips For Facility Managers

All, Miscellaneous, Facility Management

Every Facility Manager in Facility Management should be experienced with the guidelines for fire safety. To begin with, the equipment that every building mandatorily needs to have is fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, smoke alarms, fire panels, smoke control systems, fire hydrants, emergency power supply, mechanical ventilation, air conditioning systems, and emergency exit signs. Fire rarely takes place in well-maintained modern elevators, however, there is a huge risk to elevators through fire originating from inside of the building. Let’s look at a few general measures for fire safety for the buildings/tenants and for elevator maintenance and usage during fire emergencies.


Planned Preventive Maintenance (PPM) Schedule:


The OEM/AMC vendor should conduct periodic maintenance as per planned schedules. This schedule works upon a calendar for the entire year and lists out dates to run maintenance exercises on each equipment periodically to ensure they run effectively throughout the year. Every time these activities take place, the reports of the tests run are then shared in the Monthly Management Report (MMR) by the Facility Manager.


Fire Prevention Plan:


Understand the fire strategy for the building and then accordingly have a fire prevention plan in place. Make sure it is updated with all the national and state-based fire safety regulations and standards with respect to the training, maintenance and protection equipment, legal and ethical requirements. It is crucial that the FM prepares such a plan keeping the security team in the loop and incorporating all their suggestions. It is imperative that advice is sought from a fire protection specialist on a periodic basis.


Emergency Training and Drills:


Fire drills and training are done on a periodic basis to train the occupants and staff on how to act if there is an emergency. Every employee on-site should be completely trained in how to operate the fire equipment and the procedures to follow if there is an emergency, the tenants should also be trained for these emergencies; most importantly, training should be conducted as to how to avoid panic during an emergency. People will stay calm in an emergency only if they are aware of what is to be done and have practiced it beforehand. A mock drill should be conducted twice a year to check the preparedness of the site for emergencies and also for updates in terms of systems, technology, etc.


Maintenance and Records:


All the fire equipment needs to be periodically serviced and maintained as this would guarantee the functionality of the equipment and help detect any faults that may result in a malfunction. Create a fire logbook to list all fire equipment along with tagging numbers and to record the service reports. (Most of the Facility Management services in Mumbai opt maintain a proper record).


Evacuation Measures:


The maintenance team along with the security team should prepare an evacuation plan and the appropriate signage should be put in place for activating the evacuation plan, in case of emergencies. Elevators are not designed to operate under conditions of extreme heat, fire, explosion, or water and they must not be used for evacuation. As a safety measure, many buildings have emergency power systems that supply enough electricity to lower the elevators to the chosen/nearest floor, the FM should keep that in mind while developing a safety plan.


Elevator Usage Guidelines:


All tenants/residents should be trained in the usage of the elevator; this training should be a part of the fire drill. Many systems provide energy to operate lights, fans & intercoms even during a power failure and the tenants should be trained to operate them. The guidelines for elevator usage in case of an emergency for the FM is as below:


Review the building design/construction and the fire safety plan to determine whether the elevator should be used in emergencies


Develop the fire evacuation requirements based on the tenant’s profiles. For e.g. you might have to mandatory use the elevators for the disabled and the elderly tenants


Identify the risk or threat assessment for using elevators for emergencies and then make a safety plan accordingly


Adopt safety precaution measures – upgraded elevator systems, CCTV, protected lobbies, etc.


Understand the importance of the elevators as in terms of evacuation time and the degree of protection and then decide accordingly


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