If there’s one thing that can keep the owner of a commercial and/or residential rental property up at night it’s fire. Fires can start from any number of sources, from kitchen grease fires, to a cigarette left burning on the armrest of a couch, to faulty electrical wiring. This is why your commercial building must undergo routine fire inspections according to the letter of the law. When it comes to fire prevention in commercial properties, SFGate.com states, owners of both residential and commercial rental properties must follow state and local fire safety codes. This is accomplished and enforced by local fire department inspections. The inspections can occur on an annual basis, a periodic basis, or even upon request from the owner. All too often the inspections are worth it since they can result in at least one necessary fire sprinkler repair by a reputable and fully licensed fire sprinkler service.
When it comes to fire in both residential and commercial rental properties, all precautions should be taken, including fire inspections. Here’s 4 important facts regarding said inspections.
Fire Inspections are Necessary for Fire Safety Compliance
State and local regulations demand inspections for both new and renovated commercial properties to ensure fire safety requirement compliance, especially when it comes to fire sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems. According to SFGate.com, at the very minimum, annual fire safety inspections are required for all commercial and multi-family residential properties, including hotels, motels, apartment buildings, and more. Payment for these inspections and the repairs that result because of them, are the responsibility of the owner. In the end, the purpose of annual inspections is not only to make sure fire safety systems are up and running as they should be, but also to educate owners on new rules and regulations for meeting code compliance.
Fire Inspections for Residential Rental Properties
Once per year fire safety inspections for residential properties can occur without warning and/or notice to the property owner. These inspections include, but are not limited to the following areas: stairwells, garages, exercise rooms, laundry rooms, storage bins, and vacant apartment units. However, if you are currently renting an apartment, you have the right to request your own fire safety inspection. Fire inspectors routinely search for hazards that can adversely affect fire safety should a fire break out. Fire lanes that are obstructed are of grave importance, as are illegal balcony and terrace gas and charcoal cookers, plus fire alarm systems that have been rendered inoperable. Anything not in working order or not in compliance must be reported immediately to the Bureau of Fire Prevention.
Section 8 Fire Inspections
SFGate.com stresses that tenants who qualify for Section 8 Voucher rental assistance programs which are overseen by the local housing authority, must comply not only with routine fire inspections, but additional inspections also. The rental units must be thoroughly inspected prior to the tenant taking occupancy, and on an annual basis during that occupancy. If you are a Section 8 tenant, you will be subject to strict smoke detector ordinances, which means the detectors will have to meet the standards set forth by the National Fire Protection Standard 74. If you are hearing impaired, further fire safety measures will be required.
Commercial Rental Property Fire Inspections
If you own a commercial rental property, you might be required by the local fire department to keep up-to-date records regarding your fire safety program, including sprinkler system maintenance/repair, fire extinguisher expiration dates, fire alarm system operation, safety drills, facility emergency evacuation plan, and more. These records will almost certainly be examined during a routine fire inspection, and lack of proper record keeping can result in monetary fines. If you are an owner, you will be required to keep all this information in an easy to examine binder. If your fire safety program is considered up-to-date and in conformity, you will be issued a certificate of compliance by the fire department safety director.
If fire should break out in a commercial or residential rental property, it could spell utter disaster for both tenants and owner. That’s why maintaining fire safety compliance is so important, including routine repair of sprinkler heads and fire safety systems, both wet and dry. By complying according to the law, you will not only be protecting yourself from the destruction of your property and the money you have invested in it, but far more importantly, you will be saving the lives of the people who live and/or work in your facility. That alone, should help you sleep better at night.