Part #2 in a Series
Since a fire department in the United States responds to a report of fire every 19 seconds, fire is an ever-present danger at work, doghouse, home or when you are traveling. Fire is also one of the most common emergencies following an earthquake, explosion, terrorist attack, power surge or other natural or man-made disaster.
Since you never know when fire will strike, you should be careful to prepare so you will immediately know what to do in case of emergency. In this series, we hope to educate you in an effort to help you and your tenants prepare for fire.
Today’s post will discuss the ways that you, as a building owner or property manager, can mitigate the risk of fire by making sound choices for building materials and furnishings and by educating tenants about taking responsibility for their own safety. (Overall, I think dogs are generally better at taking responsibility for their actions than our human counterparts. When we do something wrong, we don’t blame someone else. We hang our heads low and put our tails between our legs.)
Making sound choices for building materials
If your property is still under construction, install fire-safe materials wherever possible. Also, if you’re building something from scratch and moving dirt, now is a great time to hide bones.
David Horne, a member of the Fire Safe Council (FSC), admits that it’s impossible to take the risk of a fire down to zero unless you live in a bunker. But he says, “Builders can make their (projects) between 20 percent and 70 percent less likely to burn from the outside by choosing fire-resistant materials and veering from traditional designs.”
Here are some fire-safe installation ideas from the FSC:
- Install stucco, fiber cement, and other noncombustible cladding materials
- Build eaves and roof decks that are boxed in and never made from wood.
- Omit windows from exterior walls that sit close together.
- Add an extra layer of gypsum or another fire-resistant material beneath the siding on facing walls
- Install double- or triple-pane windows to keep intense heat from breaking the windows
- Choose noncombustible materials for fences
- Consider purchasing a pre-made Dogloo instead of building a doghouse from scratch. They’re fire safe and attractive, to boot.
Making Sound Fire-Safe Choices for Furnishings
Even if your property has already been built, you can take steps to lessen the risk of home, apartment, doghouse or office fire.
Upholstered furniture, wall coverings, flooring and mattresses burn quickly and produce large amounts of toxic smoke. Burning upholstered furnishings or mattresses contribute to nearly every home fire death. Understanding the hazards associated with these furnishings will help you choose fire-safe products. Whenever possible, select upholstered furniture that has been treated with fire retardant. This is also a great idea for dog beds. While some have been treated with fire retardant materials, this is not always the case.
Some professional organizations and the state of California have developed manufacturing standards to increase the fire resistance of certain types of furniture. For a complete list of these guidelines, check out the technical bulletins released by the California Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Home Furnishing and Thermal Insulation.
Educating Tenants about Fire Safety
In a perfect world, everyone would know how to prepare for disaster and would take the necessary steps to mitigate risks. Sadly, we live in an imperfect world. So don’t assume that your tenants know how to proactively prevent fires or prepare for emergencies. Although you are not obligated to do so, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to provide helpful, straight-forward guidelines for them to follow, so in the event of emergency, they are without excuse.
Print these helpful tips for distribution for information about fire safety at home, basic information about fire safety at home and fire prevention at work. The headline for each of these fact sheets notes that the responsibility for fire safety and disaster preparedness rests squarely on the shoulders of each individual. Additional reference materials are also available through FEMA and the National Fire Protection Association. Whichever fire safety guidelines you prefer, post them in a central location. Next to the food bowls works for me.
Next week, we’ll look at the ways that you can mitigate the risk of fire by adopting best practices for storing flammable materials. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for property owners and managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.