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The Most Common Fire Safety Misperception
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Technology Brings Positive Change To Fire SafetyPt. 2: This PagePt. 3: Pt. 4: The Dangers of Fire Alarm System Non-compliance
What is the most common misconception facility managers have in regards to their level of fire safety?
First, I don't know if they even are aware of what their level of fire safety is. I think that's the misconception — they think they're OK and they're not.
There are a number of facilities that are living with existing installations that might have been installed many years ago, and might not be currently adequate for the hazards that are in the facilities today. Warehouses come to mind, where they are now storing more combustible products than they might have been designed for.
Fire safety is not in facility managers’ minds day to day. The more sophisticated companies and property managers sometimes have professional staff that watch out for this, and they have policies and procedures in place to make sure that when changes occur the fire safety is being addressed. But those are some of the larger and more sophisticated organizations that are very good at managing fire safety. They are not representative of the median business in the country.
Fortunately, we don't have a lot of fires that happen in our country. When you're managing a building and the air conditioning is not working right, you know about that when it gets warm outside. If your plumbing fixtures are not working right, you know about that almost immediately. But because buildings don't have fires every day, you don't know that your facility is deficient in a particular way. It's a good thing and a bad thing that our fire safety systems are not tested every day because of a need.
Second on that list, they don't appreciate the necessary level of maintenance that's required for their systems. The more sophisticated companies and organizations, again, do have procedures in place for that. The less sophisticated companies probably don't give it a thought.