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Fire Protection for Houston Apartment Complexes

If you own an apartment building in Houston, you have many concerns to look after. Just remember, in addition to making sure tenants pay rent and keeping up with maintenance and repair requests, you also need to ensure adequate fire protection.

Based on National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates from 2013, nearly 100,000 fires occur each year in apartment complexes across the country, resulting in about 400 civilian deaths per year and another 4,000 civilian injuries. In 2013 alone, more than $1.6 billion in property damage resulted from apartment building fires.

When the responsibility for keeping building tenants safe from fire rests on your shoulders, it’s important to understand fire hazards and the best ways to protect against them.

Fire Hazards in Houston Apartment Complexes

  • Cooking equipment: According to averages from the NFPA between 2009 and 2013, nearly 70 percent of all multi-family housing structure fires start in the kitchen. Since this is where high heat and open flames often come into play, this finding isn’t too surprising.
  • Equipment and appliances: Heating equipment alone is responsible for 7 percent of fires. This includes radiators, boilers, furnaces and space heaters. Electrical or lighting equipment causes 3 percent of fires, and malfunctioning washers and dryers cause another 2 percent of apartment building blazes.
  • Smoking materials and candles: Cigarettes cause 6 percent of apartment fires. Enacting a no-smoking rule not only helps keep your units cleaner, but it also helps reduce the chance of accidental fire. Candles account for another 2 percent of blazes.
  • Arson: 5 percent of apartment building fires are set intentionally.
  • Exposure: When another fire already exists on the premises or a surrounding building, your apartment complex may catch fire when exposed to the flames. This occurs in 2 percent of multi-family housing fires.

Fire Protection for Houston Apartment Complexes

Since you don’t have direct control over what happens in each tenant’s apartment, your best option for preventing a blaze is to install the necessary fire protection equipment. Regular maintenance is also important for keeping the equipment operational.

  • Fire sprinklers: Every unit in your apartment complex should feature a fire sprinkler system. This is an excellent way to protect against fires 24/7. Quick response from properly installed sprinklers can help prevent a fire from spreading to other units, minimizing property damage and preventing displacing multiple families. Fire sprinkler monitoring is also useful to automatically alert emergency responders if a sprinkler activates. Make sure the sprinkler design is adequate for the layout of your building and maintain the system yearly.
  • Fire extinguishers: Don’t expect each tenant to buy their own ABC fire extinguisher. Instead, provide one under the kitchen sink of each unit. In the lease agreement, include a requirement for tenants to report when they discharge the fire extinguisher, even on accident, so you can arrange to have it recharged. Also keep a fire extinguisher behind glass in at least one common area around each building.
  • Smoke detectors: Install at least one in every unit. Then include changing the smoke detector battery on the list of annual routine maintenance you provide your tenants.
  • Fire evacuation routes: Depending on the layout of your complex, you may need to post evacuation routes in the hallways. Make sure each tenant has more than one safe way to exit the building.

The best way to prevent Houston apartment complex fires is to work with Kauffman Co. We’re a full-service fire protection company offer everything from fire protection equipment installation and inspections to fire sprinkler monitoring. To learn more, or to schedule services, please contact Kauffman Co. online or call us at (713) 893-1090.

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