Fire inspections are a crucial aspect of maintaining safety in buildings, whether they are residential or commercial. When a fire inspector or AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) arrives, it’s essential to approach the situation with a proactive and cooperative mindset. In this blog post, we will discuss effective strategies on how to deal with fire inspectors and ensure a smooth inspection process.
- Preparation is Key: Ensure your building complies with local fire safety codes before the fire inspector arrives. Inspectors love to see detailed documentation of inspections done, deficiencies found, and deficiencies corrected. Regularly conduct inspections with a certified fire safety company to identify and address potential issues. This preparation not only helps in passing the inspection but also demonstrates a commitment to fire safety.
- Know the Codes: Familiarize yourself with the local fire safety codes that apply to your building. This knowledge will empower you to make necessary adjustments in advance and answer any questions the inspector may have. Stay updated on code changes and ensure your building adheres to the latest regulations. Your fire & life safety vendor is a great resource for this.
- Open Communication: Establish clear lines of communication with the fire inspector. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you have questions or concerns. Providing open and honest communication builds trust and shows your commitment to maintaining a safe environment. You’ll find most are very helpful and have a desire for you to have a safe building.
- Documentation is Essential: Keep thorough records of all fire & life safety measures and maintenance activities. This includes fire drills, equipment inspections, and any upgrades or repairs made to the fire protection systems. Having organized documentation readily available can expedite the inspection process and help build their confidence you are safe & compliant. A good fire & life safety vendor will keep digital records and be able to support you with them on short notice.
- Be Present During the Inspection: While delegating the inspection process to a staff member may be tempting, your presence demonstrates accountability and a commitment to safety. This also allows you to address any concerns or questions the inspector may have in real-time.
- Address Findings Promptly: If the fire inspector identifies areas that require improvement, promptly address them. This ensures compliance and showcases your dedication to maintaining a safe environment for occupants. They’ll typically give you a 30-day grace period to fix any deficiencies unless they deem the building unsafe to occupy; in this case, they may shut it down immediately.
- Build a Positive Relationship: Establishing a positive relationship with the fire inspector can go a long way. Treat them with respect, listen to their recommendations, and express gratitude for their role in ensuring public safety. A positive rapport can lead to a more collaborative and constructive inspection process.
- Continuous Improvement: Fire safety is an ongoing process. Use the feedback from inspections to improve your building’s safety measures continually. Regularly review and update your emergency plans, conduct training sessions for occupants, and stay vigilant about potential fire hazards.
- Notify Your Fire Safety Vendor: If the fire inspector (AHJ) finds deficiencies during his inspection, notify your fire & life safety partner immediately for their assistance in corrective actions. Many property owners & managers hear they have 30 days to correct deficiencies and wait a few weeks before acting on it. This may be too late, and you risk the inspector showing up without deficiencies corrected.
- Breathe: That’s right, breathe! Fire Inspectors are on your side. All parties want the building to be a safe environment. Being collaborative with them and your fire protection company will ensure you are safe and compliant and will make their inspection go smoothly.
Lastly, Dealing with a fire inspector doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By adopting a proactive and cooperative approach, maintaining open communication, and staying committed to fire safety, you can navigate the inspection process with confidence. Remember, the ultimate goal is to create a safe environment for everyone in the building.