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  1. Your Fire Safety in a High-Rise Apartment Building

    August 14, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    If you live in an apartment building, especially beyond the first floor, you should be prepared and have a plan in place in case of a fire.

    According to the NFPA, about 62 percent of fires responded to by firefighters between 2009-2013 were in apartment buildings, resulting in many fatalities, injuries and millions in property damage.

    In a message from NFPA President James Pauley, many of the latest fire tragedies involving multiple loss of lives can be attributed to several factors:

    • The use of outdated codes and standards
    • Acceptance of reduced safety requirements to save money
    • Ignoring referenced standards within a code
    • Lack of education around the application of codes and standards
    • Reduced enforcement
    • A public unaware of the dangers of fire

    As you can see, five out of six of these items are out of the control of the tenant in the apartment building. However, even though no two fires are alike, being aware of the dangers of fire, knowing basic fire safety and having a plan in case of an emergency is something that everyone can do to prepare for fire.

    Here are some important things to know for fire safety in a high-rise residential apartment building:

    • Be familiar with your floor’s evacuation plan. A diagram should be posted where you can see it.
    • Be aware of the location so the fire exits in your hall, especially those near your unit.
    • Always have a set of house keys and a flashlight in your nightstand.
    • Always be sure your smoke alarms are working.

    If the fire occurs in your unit…

    • Leave immediately and close the door behind you to prevent the spread of heat and smoke.
    • Don’t lock the door. It needs to be unlocked for the firefighters.
    • Take your keys, flashlight and cell phone with you if it is safe to do so.

    Then, be CALM:

    C     Call 911 and report the fire from a neighbor’s unit or outside the unit. Be specific. Give your floor and apartment number. Stay on the line to answer more questions and receive instructions.

    • Alert building management and other tenants/security. Knock on doors and let them know there is a fire on the floor.

    L–    Listen for important information from fire officials. Your building may have a PA system that could be activated to give you instructions. If there is no PA system, the fire department will do a search of the building.

    M– Move to safety as directed by the fire department.

    If you smell smoke in your apartment building…

    If you are in the apartment and smell smoke, call the fire department right away and let them know where you are. They may have information for you and be aware of the situation. Just because you smell smoke does not mean you are in immediate danger. The City of Chicago fire department recommends you stay in your unit unless told by the fire department to leave because in many cases, staying in place is the safer option.

    In most cases, you will be asked to remain in place until the fire department gets there. If you smell smoke as you wait for the fire department, do the following:

    • Keep your door closed
    • Stuff wet towels around the door and vents to keep smoke out
    • Open a window slightly, without breaking it, if heat and smoke are building up
    • Stay low to the floor where air is cooler and cleaner. Smoke rises.
    • If you are advised to leave the apartment, check the temperature of the door with the back of your hand. If it is warm to the touch in 5 seconds, do not open it. If cool, close the door and make your way to a safe stairway exit.
    • NEVER use the elevator in fire emergencies since it may be in use by the firefighters. Never head to the roof since heat and smoke rise.
    • Have your keys, flashlight and cell phone handy if you need to leave, but leave all other belongings behind.

    You can find out more about high-rise fire safety in this video from the City of Chicago:

    The best way to prepare for an emergency is to have an emergency plan. Always know where your fire exits are and know what to do in the event of a fire.  At Total Fire & Safety, our job is to help residential buildings stay safe with up-to-date fire equipment. To find out more, visit totalfireandsafety.com

     

     


  2. Total Fire & Safety Tees it Up!

    August 1, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    Thank you to our client, Discount Tire, who chose a beautiful day for their recent annual golf outing. It was held July 27 at the lovely Tamarack Golf Course in Naperville, Illinois. This was the third consecutive year we participated, sending a fearless foursome to the golf outing and we were as always, happy to support our client.

    This year, we even sponsored a hole with handsome, environmentally appropriate signage to add to the festivities.

    The foursome representing Total Fire & Safety came from varied key service areas of the company.  Pictured here are some of our finest employee golfers! From left to right, Jason Schroeder, Vice President; Jason LeGrand, Business Development;  Nick Ingoglia, Fire Division Manager and Chris Burroughs, Dispatch Coordinator.

     

    Were it not for the tournament, would these four fire safety men be on the golf course? Golf courses are not typically a fire risk, but fire has been known to destroy the maintenance buildings and club houses that sit adjacent to them. At Total Fire & Safety, our services protect many recreational venues in Chicagoland, Wisconsin and Indiana. And that’s important because such fires break out more often than you think.

    In fact, this past May, a Texas and Ohio golf course building were both destroyed from fire.

    In Brownsville, Texas, the clubhouse at Valley International Country Club had a blaze on May 13, which most likely began in the kitchen area.  Although nobody was hurt, the beautiful venue, including the original two-story clubhouse built in 1910, was ruined. The fire was fueled by a “built-up roof” which was heavier and held the heat more easily as the blaze raged for 12 hours.

    Just a few days earlier, fire had destroyed a maintenance shed at the Carlisle Golf Course in Grafton, Ohio. The fire broke out after midnight on May 11 from an unknown cause, but arson is not suspected. The fire department was able to keep the fire from spreading to a nearby residence, but in this case, their challenge was the water source. Since the course was not close to fire hydrants, they had to set up a water shuttle to bring water to the blaze.

    It just goes to show how the need for fire safety is everywhere, even in the places we least expect.  At Total Fire & Safety, we’re proud to support our clients and keep our recreational areas, as well as our workplace, as safe as possible. If we can help you with your commercial fire protection, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 630-960-5060.


  3. Your Fire Safety in a High-Rise Building

    July 14, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    While fire safety in high-rise buildings is always a concern, NFPA fire safety codes for high-rise buildings in the U.S., especially in the city of Chicago, are well enforced. 

    In fact, the National Fire Protection Association even reports that the fire death rate per 1,000 fires is generally lower in high-rise buildings than in similar, lower buildings (fewer than seven stories). That is because there is usually a greater use of fire protection systems in high rises, along with features such as sprinkler systems and one-way communication systems which are able to make critical announcements to everyone in the building. In the city of Chicago, standpipes, which help propel water into the floors of the building from the inside, are required for every building over 80 feet tall, and also help to douse fires effectively.

    In the city of Chicago, property managers are required to distribute updated fire safety information annually, but the tenant, or employer, is also required to have an emergency fire plan in place and communicate it to their employees. Depending on the size of the company you work in, emergency fire equipment training may also be OSHA-required. Whether or not.  If you work in a high-rise, be prepared for a fire emergency

    • Know your employer’s fire safety plan.
    • Know where the nearest fire exits are and make sure they are clear of clutter at all time.
    • Know several exits in case one or more should be blocked by smoke or fire.
    • Attend any required fire safety training offered by your employee.

    In the event of an emergency on your floor, remember to remain CALM, which is not just an attitude, it’s an acronym!

    C     Someone should call 911 and report the fire from a safe part of the floor, per the floor emergency plan.

    A    If applicable, alert other tenants on the floor

    L–    Listen for important information from fire officials. Your building may have a PA system that can be used by the fire department to give you instructions to either evacuate or stay in place.

    M– If applicable, move to safety as directed by the fire department.

    There is no “one size fits all” fire emergency plan for high-rise workplaces because every fire, building and safety condition is different. However, the decision as to whether you should evacuate or shelter in place will be made by the fire department based on the applications of the building and the conditions of the fire.

    If you evacuate…

    • You should always use the stairs to exit the building…never the elevator unless directed by the fire department.
    • Never head to the roof. Smoke, fire and heat rise quickly and you put yourself in greater danger.
    • Keep low. Smoke and fire rise. The air is cooler and cleaner below.

    If you shelter in place…

    • Stuff wet towels around the door and vents to keep smoke out
    • Make sure the fire department knows where you are
    • Open a window slightly and wave a bright cloth to signal your location
    • Do not break windows
    • Be prepared to close the window if it makes the smoke condition worse, but you could leave the cloth outside as a symbol
    • Try to communicate with the fire department to monitor their progress. Stay calm. It can take time.

    You can find out more about high-rise fire safety in this video from the City of Chicago:

    Your fire safety in a high rise building is an important consideration, as is your employer’s emergency fire plan. At Total Fire & Safety, our job is to help keep the tenants of high-rise buildings safe with up-to-date fire protection and life safety training and equipment. To find out more, visit totalfireandsafety.com today.

     


  4. Don’t Get Grilled… on Grill Safety!

    May 26, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    As the weather warms up, we know that a lot of you will be warming up the grill for barbecuing season. But do you know how to prevent your grill from starting a fire? According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2009 and 2013, there was an average of 8,900 grill, hibachi, or barbecue-related home fires per year. Here are five important facts about grill safety that will make your backyard the safe haven that you want it to be.

    1. Be very careful with liquid gas and propane, because they are extremely flammable. The most dangerous type of fuel to use in grills is gas, accounting for 83 percent of all grill fires. Charcoal and other materials account for less fires, but any material can pose a fire risk.

    2. You should always make sure to clean your grill properly before and after you use it. Improperly cleaned grills are the leading cause of grill fire. For gas grills, you can use a pipe cleaner to clear blockage in the tubes that lead to the burner.

    3. Another leading cause of grill fires that use gas is leaks or breaks that can develop in the gas line. It is always a good idea to inspect the pipes and fuel sources before you fire up the grill. Also, make sure there are no sharp bends in the tubing and pipes which might result in unnecessary stress on the system.

    4. Always have proper ventilation while grilling. Do not grill indoors, and be cautious with awnings or umbrellas. If you grill indoors, you are not only risking a fire, but also, suffocation from the fumes produced by gas and charcoal grills. Always use grills at least 10 feet away from your house or any building.

    5. If you suspect a leak, be careful. Keep open flames and lit cigarettes away from the grill, and if you suspect that there is a leak, play it safe. Do not light the grill if you smell excessive gas, or if you notice any abnormalities in the grill’s fuel system.

    It is important to know the facts behind grill safety. Grilling season is upon us, and we want to prevent as many fires as possible during this high-risk season. Proper fire safety systems are an important part of fire prevention, but safe practices are also crucial to a safe environment. If you have any questions about fire safety, whether you’re grilling at home or at your business, you can contact us at 630-960-5060.


  5. Five Questions to Ask to Assess Your First Aid Requirement for Workplace

    April 19, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    We cannot overstate the importance of first aid requirement for the workplace. If you read through the OSHA requirements for first aid kits and first aid training, and the ANSI minimum first aid equipment for businesses, you may notice that a lot of the details are left up to the business owner. That is because every business is different, and will have different risks depending on the equipment involved in the business. A simple office space might have a small, basic first aid kit, while a car mechanic would probably need a much more complex one. Here are five steps to help guide you through the process of determining what first aid kit and training your business and your employees need.

     

    1. What are the most common injuries in your industry? Think about the equipment involved with your industry, and what kind of accidents can happen with that equipment. Make sure you satisfy the first aid requirement for workplace accidents to handle the most probable injuries within your specific business.

     

    3. How close are you to the nearest hospital or medical center? In the event of an emergency, how long would it be until help arrived? If your business is in a remote location, you might need extra first aid materials to handle an emergency for a longer length of time.

     

    4. How many employees do you have? Make sure there are enough first aid kits to handle an emergency where multiple people are injured. The more employees you have, the more first aid kits you should have.

     

    5. Consider the layout of your workplace. Make first aid kits easy to get to, and easy to see. They must be clearly labeled, and all employees should know where they are. Also make sure that the first aid kits are accessible in the areas which are most prone to accidents, such as the kitchen in a restaurant.

     

    There are a lot of options for both first aid kits and training. Make sure to think about restocking first aid kits and offering training to new employees. First aid requirements for workplace accidents can include portable kits or wall mounted kits, designed for indoor or outdoor use. For first aid training programs, make sure you go with a quality program that will teach your employees how to handle emergencies that are most likely to occur in your workplace. Cover the basics, and go beyond, to keep your employees healthy and safe.

     

    If you have questions or concerns about first aid kit or training compliance, Total Fire and Safety is you one-stop source for all fire safety and first aid needs. Feel free to contact us at 630-960-5060.

     


  6. The Best Way to Protect Your Computers: Clean Agent Suppression Systems

    March 28, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you have a business that has any sort of valuable electronic equipment, like computers, servers, etc., you need to know about clean agent suppression systems. They are a liquid-free, fire suppression option, unlike sprinklers, that will not harm your electronic devices in the case of a fire and need for fire suppression. Just imagine the damage a sprinkler system would do to your equipment! Clean agents are an excellent alternative for many reasons:

    Your computers and data rooms are a fire hazard to begin with. Computers and data rooms need very good ventilation because they can get very hot. The NFPA has specific regulations for computer rooms and electronic equipment areas, because there is a greater risk of fire from electronics.

    Your business has a lot to lose from fire damage to electronics. Not only could you lose your equipment, but you could lose crucial data and online business. You could lose millions, literally, in the blink of an eye if a fire rips through the room that stores your equipment.

    You won’t have to get soaked with a clean agent. When the system is activated, Halon 1301, a gaseous fire extinguishant, is released into the room. Halon fills the room and extinguishes the fire, but does not leave any residue on surfaces in the room. No mess to clean up afterward… the gas will evaporate and the room will be unharmed.

    Because clean agents work by removing oxygen from the room, this kind of suppression system does post some danger to humans. Clean agents are great for rooms that are filled with servers and computers, but not people. There is a risk of suffocation if people are trapped in the room in an emergency situation.

    The pros of a clean agent system are many to those areas of your business that require an alternative to sprinklers. At Total Fire & Safety, we are experts in the installation and maintenance of clean agent suppression systems for businesses. If you are considering an installation, contact us at 630-960-5060.


  7. What You Need to Know About the OSHA 300A Form

    February 28, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    If you are a business subject to OSHA regulations, now is the time of year that businesses are required to post a yearly report of workplace-related injuries and illnesses. The summary must be posted in a common area where all employees can see it. Doing this keeps your employees aware of dangers in the workplace. As an employer, make sure you know how to keep records and to post the yearly summaries. Safety is important, and so is following regulations! All the forms can be found here, but a summary of what you need to know is below.

    The 300A form is known as the Injury and Illness Recordkeeping Forms. Form 300A summarizes job-related injuries and illnesses, which should be logged on the OSHA 300 Log. After a year of logging illnesses and injuries, employers should post the form 300A summary for all employees to see.

    Who needs to fill it out? Most employers who have ten or more employees will have to fill out the form. If your establishment has a chance of any sort of workplace injury or illness, you likely need to fill out the form. OSHA has also updated its list of newly included establishments that will need to keep records. To check to see if your industry is on the list, click here.

    Who is exempt from the requirement? If you have fewer than ten employees, you do not have to fulfill this OSHA requirement. Certain workplaces that are deemed low-hazard are also exempt, like shoe stores, book stores, florists, and publishers. You can find a full list of low-hazard workplaces here.

    When is the deadline for reporting? Notices must be posted each year between February 1 and April 30, so now is the time!

    OSHA Form 300A

    At Total Fire and Safety, we are dedicated to helping your business meet all safety requirements and helping you prevent workplace related injuries and illnesses. In addition to commercial fire safety, we offer onsite first aid kits and employee safety training. If you have questions or concerns about OSHA requirements or any other question related to workplace safety, feel free to contact Total Fire & Safety  at 630-960-5060.


  8. A New Year in TFS’s Commercial Fire Protection Training Room

    February 14, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    If you visit the TFS headquarters in Lisle, Illinois, make sure you take a look at our newly remodeled training room. Training is essential to what we do at Total Fire & Safety, not only for new employees but to help existing ones stay up-to-date on the latest hazards, fire codes and prevention techniques.

    Our existing employees know the training room well. This is a picture of our fire extinguisher division meeting. Every month, each division of Total Fire & Safety, fire extinguisher, sprinkler,  fire alarm  and backflow,  meet for monthly training and information exchange sessions. By gathering together, our team in each division can share information about their experiences in the field and discuss what is working or needs to be improved. Each division has their own concern with fire safety, so holding these division exclusive meetings is very helpful.

    Who benefits most from these meetings? The TFS customer!

    These meetings are one of many ways TFS is always trying to become more efficient and stay abreast of the latest in fire prevention and NFPA codes for their customers. The meetings help Total Fire & Safety deliver their very best in expertise, installation, maintenance and customer service to all our wonderful customers.

    Thank you to all of our customers for making 2016 a great year for us. We promise to do everything we can as your commercial fire protection company to make 2017 a safe one for your commercial fire safety. If you have any questions about fire safety for your business or want to update your fire equipment going into the new year, don’t hesitate to contact us at 630-960-5060.

     


  9. The Ghost Ship Fire: 36 Lives Lost From Lack of Fire Safety Systems

    December 14, 2016 by Total Fire and Safety

    Ghost-Ship-FireOn December 2 in Oakland California, a deadly fire took 36 lives in a warehouse facility turned artist residence known as the Ghost Ship Artist Collective. It took four days for local firefighters to recover the scene. An absolute contributing factor? The lack of a sprinkler and fire alarm systems, blocked and inadequate fire exits and a lack of working fire extinguishers.

    In fact, the few extinguishers found among the bodies were inoperable. Officials say it is the highest number of fatalities in a structure fire in the U.S. in the last 13 years.

    The tragedy shed negative light on the building owner, who refused to comply with fire codes and the state of the Oakland housing market, where people endured living in dangerous conditions since there was no other affordable alternative in the area. The city is also under scrutiny since the building had not been inspected for 30 years, and rightly should have been closed down.

    But for those of us in fire safety, like Total Fire, the tragedy is a demonstration of the importance of our work, and how what we do saves lives.

    The Looming Disaster

    The Ghost Ship had been home to numerous fire hazards for some time and was no stranger to the authorities. The facility had been reported for tall weeds, mounds of garbage on the grounds, and illegal conduct of the community within, even though the space was not meant for residential use. The cause of the fire is still under investigation but at first, an old refrigerator was thought to be the cause.

    The interior of the building was a chaotic mixture of improper electrical wiring and makeshift staircases, stacks of wood, furniture and other junk scattered around and wooden structures in progress. The fire started on the first floor, and people trying to evacuate had to weave through the inside clutter and climb a rickety, tight staircase to get out. People on the second floor were trapped by smoke and flames.

    Many of the bodies were found as they were in their last moments–holding and hugging each other in fear.

    At Total Fire & Safety, we truly believe we do something more than just come to work, collect a pay check and go home. We play an important role in keeping our community safe!

    Steven Holowka, our fire alarm division manager, puts it this way: “I tell my team to take the mindset that every building we take care of has someone you love  in there. Would you want your loved ones being in a building that wasn’t properly taken care of?  Would you feel okay  if you one of your loved ones died in a building that wasn’t properly maintained?”

    In the case of the Oakland tragedy, an inspection attempt was made as recently as last month when a code enforcement officer responded to complaints about piles of garbage. No one came to the door and the Oakland inspectors are not allowed to gain access to a building without permission.

    The blaze started during a rave dance party, and the facility was not equipped or zoned for such a gathering. NFPA reminds us that in the case of nightclubs, theaters and auditoriums where large numbers of people gather, fires are the most deadly when the proper features and systems are not in place.

    For theaters, night clubs, venues, etc. NFPA codes call for a considerable number of safety systems and features to be present for these structures, not just a single safety system or feature.

    Saving Lives, a System at a Time

    When building owners take shortcuts in service, look for the cheapest option or have the mindset that a fire like this could never happen to them, the consequences can be dire. That’s why we make sure we are doing our part in taking care of our customers and ensure that the systems they have onsite are adequate for their needs.

    Our entire team, including our administrative employees, field technicians, managers and even our owner believes that it is our responsibility to do our job 100%  because in the end we are protecting what matters most–people’s lives.

    When we arrive at a facility we..

    • TEST and INSPECT to make sure everything is in working order
    • PROVIDE REPAIR/INSTALL SERVICE so everything is done correctly and ready to activate in an emergency
    •  and VERIFY that everything is up to code for the customer.

    The fire at the Ghost Ship will rank among the Rhode Island Nightclub fire of 2003 and the Queen of Angels fire from 1958 as tragedies that could have been prevented or lessened considerably had the right life safety systems been in place.

    As fire safety systems continue to improve, Jim Pauley of the NFPA warns that “we can’t be complacent just because numbers have gotten better.” It’s important that everyone responsible for the safety of those inside a facility have it properly inspected with well maintained and fully operational fire safety systems in place. Do you?

    If you are unsure of whether your building is up to code, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Total Fire & Safety. We take our jobs seriously because we know what we do saves lives!


  10. TFS Cooperates at Navy Pier!

    November 20, 2016 by Total Fire and Safety

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Total Fire & Safety team was on the scene recently at the 2016 Chicagoland Cooperator’s Condo, HOA, Co-Op and Apt. Expo at Navy Pier in Chicago.

    Once again, thousands of board and association members, property managers, homeowners and apartment building owners met for this growing, annual event. They attended educational seminars and browsed the exhibits, where they had a chance to visit with the knowledgeable staff at TFS.

    As an expert in commercial fire safety for property owners and apartment buildings, we always enjoy attending the show, familiarizing others with our services but most of all, addressing the attendees’ concerns about their current fire safety solutions. Mainly, we were able to answer the most frequently asked questions on the minds of the property owners such as:

    • What fire equipment is required for my property? (At Total Fire & Safety, we can make sure you are compliant with NFPA requirements which vary depending on your structure and occupancy. )
    • How can I reduce the cost of my fire safety needs? (Total Fire & Safety can update your old equipment or make sure your current equipment is operable. Often times, updating to a new system, like wireless fire alarm monitoring or low voltage emergency lighting, can help reduce maintenance costs in the long run while improving service.)
    • Do I have enough fire alarms? (Talk to us about your needs and we’ll make sure you get the fire alarms you need.)
    • What kind of fire safety training is needed for my employees or tenants? (Total Fire & Safety knows what kind of employee fire safety and first aid training is mandatory, or best suited for your building.)
    • Do I really need a first aid kit in my building? (Of course!  A properly placed first aid kit can supply much needed medical attention when it’s needed most!)
    • Why should we pick Total Fire & Safety? (Because for more than twenty years, Total Fire & Safety has led Chicagoland as one of the most reliable, knowledgeable and trustworthy fire and safety companies in Chicagoland!)

    Mark Spinder (outside sales) and Robin Jones (inside business development) at the Cooperator Show.

     

    We look forward to next year’s show and another chance to meet new customers and introduce them to the company that has all the answers for their fire safety needs—Total Fire & Safety!   Hope to see you at the Cooperator Expo 2017! In the meantime, if we can ever help you with your fire safety needs, don’t hesitate to contact us at 630.960.5060.