Balanced Fire Protection Saves Lives

Sept. 10, 2008

Next month is Fire Prevention Month, so prepare now for training and informing your staffs and building occupants on the benefits of fire-safety planning and preparedness, centered on a balanced fire-protection approach.

Balanced fire protection means that fire safety should not rely on one single safeguard, but a complete and balanced design, including a variety of fire-equipment products ranging from portable fire extinguishers and standpipe fire hose stations to pre-engineered suppression systems, as well as an evacuation plan.

"While property managers and tenants need to work together every day to minimize the risk of fires in their buildings, Fire Safety Month is a fitting time for property managers to reevaluate their fire-protection plans, ensure equipment is in proper working condition, and communicate evacuation steps with tenants," says Joe Beranek, president of the Cleveland-based Fire Equipment Manufacturers' Association (FEMA). "With a balanced design, proper training, and a well-identified evacuation plan, loss can be minimized and lives can be saved."

FEMA offers the following fire safety checklist, including seven steps to help save lives and protect property:

  1. Know building codes: Evaluate your building's fire-protection plan, communicate it to tenants, and become familiar with local building code requirements, going above and beyond the minimum required for precautionary measures.
  2. Assess the building: When determining what fire equipment is needed, consider what type of building it is, what it's used for, and how it was built.
  3. Check fire extinguishers: Monthly, check to make sure fire extinguishers are operable and pressurized. Report any damage, such as leaks or corrosion to your equipment distributor. If damage is found, it should be replaced immediately.
  4. Inspect standpipe and occupant fire hose stations: Defend-in-place fire-fighting equipment is a must-have item, and should be thoroughly inspected. This equipment is easy-to-use on small fires after the fire department has been called and everyone is safe.
  5. Understand fire suppression systems: Mandated by NFPA standards in special hazard situations, such as in commercial kitchens and industrial areas, fire-suppression systems provide fast, on-site protection at the early stages of a fire.
  6. Implement and communicate an evacuation plan: Exit signage and emergency communications are important components of escape planning. Every building should have visibly placed signs to indicate exit routes, and emergency drills should be practiced regularly.
  7. Train and educate: Equipment training is critical. For training information and interactive programs, visit,, and  

This information was provided by FEMA. For more information, visit

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