For obvious reasons, fire safety is one of the most important – if not the most essential – aspects of keeping your operation running.
When it comes to facilities management, the very sound of the words “fire safety” triggers an alarm inside those responsible for keeping a business location running. Or at least it certainly should.
The processes and protections included in that type of maintenance should be as rote to owners and managers as is their morning hygiene routine, no matter how packed a given day’s to-do list. However, all too often it gets lost in the shuffle of being busy and just like a student procrastinating, it is not until the last minute when that annual inspection notice makes it onto your radar. Usually, that will be too late. That is, if you’re lucky enough to have a scheduled visit instead of receiving visitors unannounced.
Once again, everything involving fire safety is something you should be doing all the time. It is worth adding to your daily routine to check doors, vents, extinguishers, and the like. But there are other precautions you can take to ensure both safety and a positive inspection.
Try to get a general idea of when the Fire Marshall tends to pay a visit. Easier said than done but typically, it comes with experience. Some Fire Marshalls are like clockwork, some are sporadic. In a bigger city setting there tends to be more of a set schedule since they have so much to get to. This can give you a better general idea of when to dot those “i’s” and cross those “t’s”. In Manhattan, you might see the same person at the same time but in a rural setting, they will have fewer places to inspect and more time to make surprise visits.
But often a store manager will receive the notice and put it on a side pile thinking it’s at a future date. Next thing you know, the visit is in three days and you are scrambling to find a contractor to come in, who then will charge you more for the last-minute visit. And if they see a problem that will require more time to fix it, they won’t be able to do so prior to the visit.
Of course, it will be most cost effective if you get a formal notice about a scheduled visit. That way you can schedule an appointment with contractors to tighten up your ship. If you address it immediately, there will be more time – more pressure-free time – to get ready. Additionally, the good contractors in your area will be familiar with the Fire Marshalls and their schedule, and may even have professional relationships with them. It goes without saying it would behoove you to learn who these contractors are. Through trial and error, you can vet them, asking all the questions you want. Working with them will help you maximize your inspection and most importantly, your fire safety measures.
Whether from personal experience or through word of mouth, you are familiar with stories of what happens when the Marshall gives a bad inspection. It is well worth the time, effort and upfront cost to address the issues so you can be prepared to ace the test, and of course, to maintain a safe facility.