This week marks the beginning of National Fire Prevention Week. This event started nearly 100 years ago in 1922, making it the oldest continuously running U.S. Public Health Observance—and for good reason! The theme this year is “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety,” which focuses on the different sounds and warning signs of a fire. It is important to have a good understanding of the different fire hazards in your work and home environments to make sure that everyone stays safe in the event of an emergency.
Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety
Smoke and Carbon Dioxide detectors are crucial to have in every home and workspace. These will detect any smoke or CO2 presence long before we can, so these should be inspected regularly to make sure they are working properly. It’s easy to put off changing the batteries in smoke detectors or to not check for CO2 detectors in your office and living spaces, but this could be detrimental in the event of a fire or gas leak. If a fire alarm sounds, get out immediately and call the fire department from outside.
Construction zones can often be more dangerous if a fire occurs because fire alarms and safe exits may not be properly installed yet, making it more difficult for workers to get out of the area safely. These areas often also have larger quantities of combustible or flammable materials—more than you would find in a finished building. This requires extra caution and preparedness from workers to avoid any unnecessary hazards.
Maryland’s Smoke Alarm Law: FAQ
As of January 1, 2018, the Maryland Law requires ALL Maryland residents to have 10-year lithium battery tamper resistant smoke alarms with the silence/hush on every level of their home.
How am I affected by the Maryland Smoke Detector law?
- For New Construction Maryland’s Smoke Alarm Law has simply been updated to correspond with the International Residential Code and NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. An AC powered, battery back-up smoke alarm is required in every bedroom, in the common area outside of the bedrooms and on every other level of the dwelling unit, with all of the required smoke alarms being interconnected.
- For homes constructed PRIOR to July 1, 1975: Under the old law, for homes constructed prior to July 1, 1975, a smoke alarm was required outside each sleeping area. The smoke alarm could be battery- operated or hardwired. Under the new law, for smoke alarms that are battery-operated, the units need to be replaced/upgraded with new, sealed, long-life smoke alarms equipped with a hush feature. For homes constructed between July 1, 1975 and June 30, 1990:
- For homes constructed between July 1, 1975 and June 30, 1990, an AC-powered smoke alarm was required in each sleeping area. The requirement that the AC- powered smoke alarms have a battery back-up became effective July 1, 1990. Smoke alarms installed during this time period should have been replaced after 10-years of service under the existing law and, after July 1, 1990, replacement alarms were equipped with a battery backup. Note: At the time the new law was signed, hard-wired smoke alarms are currently manufactured with a 9v battery back-up. It is anticipated that hard-wired smoke alarms will incorporate long-life, 10- year batteries in the near future.
- For new homes constructed AFTER July 1, 1990: Any new home in Maryland constructed after January 1, 1990 required at least one hard-wired, AC-powered smoke alarm on every level of the home, including the basement and required that the units to be interconnected in order that activation of any one of the required smoke alarms resulted in the sounding of all the required smoke alarms. The requirement that the AC-powered smoke alarms have a battery back-up became effective July 1, 1990.
Jobsite Fire Safety 101
What can you do to keep yourself and others safe in the event of a fire? Have an escape plan in place for your home or jobsite so everyone can safely exit the area. Having a map of the area is extremely helpful so that people can easily identify every exit. Before you start working, also identify any potential fire hazards in your area. These could be a variety of common items found on a jobsite:
- Sources of ignition
- Wood materials
- Exposed wires
- Open flames
- Sparks and Arcs
- Flammable liquids
- Trash or debris
- Sources of oxygen
- Malfunctioning or damaged equipment, such as frayed extension cords
Additionally, if you are working on an unfinished construction zone or in a new work area, make sure that each worker is stationed in an area that is suitable for their trade. For example, welders and steel workers who have a higher risk of causing a fire from sparks should be working in an area that doesn’t have any flammable materials and has easy access to an exit. If you relocate to a new jobsite or if the layout of the jobsite changes as you continually work on it, an updated escape plan should be made. Even designated smoking and waste bin areas should be considered and relocated as needed during construction.
Top Causes of Fire Alarm System Failure:
What Causes Fire Alarm System Failure?
Having a fire alarm system failure puts your facility and occupant’s life safety in danger. Some of the causes of a failure are unpreventable. But, you can watch out for the situations that can cause this problem. This will help to ensure that your fire alarm system remains fully functional.
Acts of God
Acts of God can cause a fire alarm system failure. A natural disaster, like a Hurricane, can subject areas to heavy rains and flooding. If water leaks into the fire alarm panel, it will short out and fail to activate during an emergency. Lighting strikes also frequently damage systems. It sends an extremely high voltage of power to the fire alarm system. This causes damage to the electronic circuit boards and other electrical components within the panel.
Facilities that don’t have a comprehensive fire alarm system inspection, testing, and maintenance program or regularly service their system put their entire facility at risk. Unfortunately, even regularly serviced systems can experience fire alarm system failure. These problems occur when facility managers ignore the fire alarm deficiencies outlined in their service report. Additionally, disregarding a fire alarm trouble signal is extremely negligent because it could mean something is critically wrong like:
- Programming errors
- Broken device
- Devices offline
Contractors working on other systems in the facility may inadvertently cause a fire alarm system failure. The system is at high risk when the contractor is working on an electrically charged system. If the system produces a high surge of electricity and sends the wrong voltage to the fire alarm, it can cause damage to the motherboard. This type of catastrophic failure often goes unnoticed because the fire alarm system can’t notify anyone of the issue. Additionally, contractors frequently cut fire alarm wire, leaving entire sections of a facility unprotected. Hire a trusted contractor to perform work on your life safety system! Bad Monkey Electric can fix it correctly the first time!
Some facilities are subject to high rates of vandalism such as prisons. Vandals pull junction box covers off and rip out the wire. This can break the SLC or NAC circuit causing a fire alarm failure. Cutting the SLC loop prevents initiating devices from sending a signal to the panel that there’s a fire. Damaging the NAC circuit inhibits notification devices from alerting facility occupants about the emergency.
Once you’re aware of the top causes of a fire alarm system failure you can take steps to mitigate the issue. Preventing a system failure is critical and having a protocol to follow when your fire alarm fails is equally important.
In the spirit of National Fire Prevention Week, take some time to review your current fire safety procedures to make sure you and those around you are fully prepared for any potential fire hazards. Interested in learning about some new fire safety items from Bad Monkey Electric? Give us a call at (410) 616-0008, email us at Steve@BadMonkeyElectric.com, or leave a message on our contact form for more information. We’re always happy to help!