When you’re managing an apartment or condo building, you not only have to worry about your tenants paying rent on time and keeping noise volumes down, but you also have a much more dangerous concern: fires.
In the past few years, there has been an average of 92,000 fires annually in apartment structures, causing an average of 440 deaths and almost 4,000 injuries per year (according to the National Fire Protection Association).
When dealing with the risk of fires in apartment complexes, it’s important to understand the hazards and best practices for prevention and protection.
Heating units – portable and space heaters can be a fire hazard. It’s important to ensure that all heating units are at least three feet away from anything that may burn.
Cigarettes – most high-rises are smoke-free today, but careless smoking is still a big factor in apartment fires. Remind residents to take safety precautions when smoking in their units.
Clutter and storage – while it might seem temporarily convenient to put extra storage materials in stairwells or line up boxes and trash in the hallway, these can be great hazards if a fire were to ignite in the building. Not only are they flammable and more fuel for a spreading fire, but these can also impair the ability to escape efficiently and safely from the building.
Cooking areas – the kitchen has a high potential for a fire emergency in any home or building, but on your property, you could have as many as 10 or 50 kitchens in all of the units combined. Ensure that fire alarms, sprinklers, and extinguishers are located near the kitchen areas within your floor plans to stop a cooking related fire from spreading to multiple units.
Appliances – some apartments provide standard appliances—such as dishwashers, microwaves, washers and dryers, etc.—but others require tenants to install their own. This creates a greater risk of fire if the equipment is not installed correctly or if electrical outlets are over used.
Fire extinguishers – renters should know how to use them, and most importantly, where they are located. While it may seems obvious that the fire extinguisher is located under the kitchen sink when the tenants are moving in, once all their stuff is settled it can become something you see every day, yet don’t notice. You’ll have to follow local fire standards, but an ABC fire extinguisher is the most versatile and common type because it can put out fire caused by ordinary materials (paper, plastic, trash), flammable liquids (oil, grease, gasoline), and electrical equipment (appliances, computers, wiring).
Fire sprinkler systems – fire sprinklers are essential for protecting your apartment units 24/7 from a fire, whether your tenants are home or not. Fire sprinklers can be uniquely designed for any layout of apartment or condo floor plans. Fire sprinklers help ensure that a fire does not spread from one unit to another, minimizing downtime and displaced renters.
Fire evacuation routes – you should have fire evacuation routes posted in each unit with more than one escape route listed. Depending on the layout of your apartment buildings, it’s important that your residents have more than one way to safely get out of the building in case a fire breaks out along one of the route options. Remember that elevators should not be used in the case of an emergency.
Fire alarms – having a working, well-maintained fire alarm system is crucial for keeping your apartment and condo buildings safe and up to code. To ensure that it is in proper order—and ready to alert residents of a fire emergency at any time—you should have your system inspected regularly by a professional fire protection company. While fire drills and alarm testing may seem like an inconvenience to renters, it can save lives and prevent injuries.
At Kauffman Co., we provide a wide range of services for all of your fire safety and protection needs. We are proud to offer owners and managers of apartment and condominium complexes in the Houston, Texas area with full service fire protection—everything from fire sprinkler installation and testing to maintenance, repair, and replacement of existing fire protection systems.
Fill out the form to the right or contact us to see how Kauffman Co. can help your Houston area apartment or condo complex protect itself against all fire hazards and emergencies!
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