Commercial Inspection Infomation

 


 Commercial/Business Fire inspections made by the Cortland Fire department are performed every 3 years to assess and mitigate potential fire-and life-safety hazards in buildings. Different types of occupancies may have different requirements.

While many people look at the fire- and life-safety inspection process negatively, these inspections benefit the building/business owners, as well as those who use the building, by offering:

  •   A safer working/living environment for employees/residents.

  •         A safer building for unfamiliar occupants (visitors, shoppers, clients, etc.)

  •         Business and job security. Up to 80 percent of all small businesses that experience a large fire never reopen; this not only affects the building/business owner, but also results in the loss of jobs. Of the businesses that do reopen, many lose much of their customer base due to prolonged absence of production or service.

  •         A better-maintained building for improved resale value. It is commonplace for buyers to hire a company to inspect the building prior to purchase to identify potential hidden costs related to fire and life safety.

  •         A possible reduction in insurance premiums. Some items may be required by both the fire department and your insurance carrier, such as annual fire-sprinkler and fire-alarm inspections verifying proper system maintenance. Many insurance carriers give businesses premium reductions for properly installed and maintained fire protection systems.

Preparation is Important to a Successful Fire Inspection
Preparing for the annual inspection is key to developing a good working relationship with the fire department and gaining positive results. Using a general checklist can help you prepare for the inspection.

Maintaining fire-protection features is critically important for fire and life safety within buildings. Fire-protection systems and maintenance reports are required by all the national and state codes and standards, and likely by your insurance carrier.

Fire-protection and fire-alarm systems have become much more complex and far more technical in the past decade. When hiring a contractor to perform system maintenance for your building, make sure he/she is reputable and takes the time to explain any items that require your attention. As with most other things, you get what you pay for. Make sure the fire-sprinkler or fire-alarm company is going to provide you with a quality inspection and complete report. Review the report and make corrections prior to your scheduled fire inspection (make sure you get a corrected report once the items have been repaired).

The following issues are either common reasons for noncompliance, or may require outsourcing to others for completion...

Maintaining the means of egress (exits) is critical to providing proper life safety in your building. Making sure all exit doors are always accessible and open properly is important. Also make sure that fire-rated areas, such as stairways and corridors, have features like fire doors, self-closing devices, releasing mechanisms, and latches that have been installed properly and are operating. No combustible materials can be stored in any portion of the means of egress, and no storage can reduce the required width or block exits.

These are items that fire inspectors will check. If the fire inspector finds problems, he/she will spend more time checking additional equipment. It's better to make sure that any equipment the fire inspector checks has been properly checked and maintained in advance of the inspection. There are companies that will perform testing and maintenance on many of these items in one visit, such as emergency lighting, exit signs, fire extinguishers, single-station smoke alarms, etc. Make sure all your heat-producing appliances are properly maintained by authorized personnel, including all manufacturing equipment, furnaces, and hot water heaters.  All commercial occupancies are required to have fire extinguishers.  Employee training and records are required for emergency procedures.

The City of Cortland Fire Department provides fire extinguisher training free of charge to businesses in the City.  Contact 607-756-5612.  Captain Jensen will help you determine your training needs.

Storage of combustible materials must be maintained in an orderly fashion, away from flame-producing appliances, and at least 18-inches below the fire sprinklers. Any combustible or flammable liquids must be in approved containers and storage cabinets. There are specific limits on the amount of combustible and flammable liquids by type of occupancy, as well as specific storage arrangements.  Contact the Code Enforcement Office to help determine your storage needs @ 607-753-1741.

There are also items that need to be addressed to help emergency-response personnel do their jobs better, including making sure the building address is clearly visible from the street, and that access to the building is not restricted.  State and National codes require that buildings allow fire departments safe and immediate access. The most common means of doing this is with fire department lock boxes. These are special fire department master-keyed lock boxes, mounted to the exterior of the building. The building owner provides essensial building keys that the fire department puts into these lock boxes for emergency use. The lock box should be readily accessible to the fire department.  These boxes are coded and secure allowing access only to fire department personnel.  If you've changed locks in your building and have a fire department lock box, make sure you have extra keys available at the time of inspection for the fire department to replace the current keys in the lockbox.  To obtain guidance on lock boxes for your business contact Tom Tobin in the Code Enforcement office @ 607-753-1741

Additionally, the fire department connection (FDC) that allows the fire department to supply water to a sprinkler or standpipe system must be clearly visible and readily accessible. Landscape maintenance is often a neglected part of fire prevention.  All fire hydrants should also be clearly visible and accessible.  Clearance of hydrants should be part of the business' snow removal plan.  

Electrical-related issues, such as making sure all cover plates are installed on all electrical outets and junction boxes, should also be addressed. It's required that circuits be properly labeled  and  current on all electrical panels, and that clear access of 30 inches must be maintained in front of all electrical panels. Extension cords are not allowed except where used for temporary power; all extension cords must be heavy duty(no zip cords), in good condition, and for small appliances. All extension cords are required to be grounded, and if multiple items need to be plugged in, power strips with built-in circuit breakers are to be used, and must be plugged directly into a permanent receptacle.

It is our goal to assist you in keeping your business and community safe.  Please contact us with any questions you may have regarding your upcoming inspection or re-inspection.


Code Enforcement 607-753-1741 or through our website link.


 




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