Tel: 630.960.5060
Your "Total" Source For Fire Safety & Security

  1. The Business Owner’s Checklist for Commercial Fire Safety in 2019

    December 4, 2018 by Total Fire and Safety

     

    A brand new year is a great time for businesses to evaluate what they can improve upon, even in terms of their commercial fire safety.  No business is completely immune to accidental fires and having the right equipment in place year round can prevent potential devastation.

    According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 3,300 fires break out in office buildings across the U.S each year.  The NFPA reports that a number of people are killed or injured with an estimated $112 million in property damage.

    If you’re a business set on achieving your 2019 goal of reaching NFPA compliance, take a look at checklist of equipment you need below for commercial fire safety. Anything missing? Call Total Fire & Safety. We can help!

    ____    Alarms

    • Fire and smoke alarms are the first line of defense and should be regularly inspected and in working order.
    • Consider wireless fire alarm monitoring, which is more efficient for many businesses.
    • Have a plan of action for occupants should the alarm sound.

    ____     Extinguishers and Suppression Systems

    • Conduct tests regularly to ensure function and pressure when activated.
    • Schedule routine maintenance of equipment.
    • Store extinguishers in open areas for easy access.

    ____     Emergency Lighting

    • Effective emergency lighting throughout the building will help occupants to safety in an emergency.
    • Schedule regular maintenance and inspections.

    Equipment is essential and necessary to prevent major damage but people are too! Whether it’s putting out a fire or tending to the injured, what good is the equipment if you don’t have employees able to use it?

    ____    First Aid

    ____    Training Courses

    • A comprehensive fire equipment training course on the use of fire equipment and first aid can place confidence in employees and keep everyone safe.
    • Training employees reduces the chance of small fires starting and spreading.

    You could have all the equipment ready and employees trained to use it but they need something else.

    ____   Emergency Preparedness Plan

    • Remind employees to REACT-(remove from danger, ensure doors/windows are closed, activate alarm, call 911, treat as dangerous.)
    • Conduct fire drills.
    • Schedule inspections of all fire equipment.
    • Have employees trained on firefighting equipment.

    Making sure you have commercial fire safety in place can seem a daunting task but the pros at Total Fire and Safety are here to simplify it.  TFS covers everything including inspection, maintenance, training, and keeping your building up to code so you are well protected in the event of an unforeseen fire. Give us a call today at 630-960-5060.


  2. 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!


  3. How Is Your Company’s Fire Prevention? Four Questions for Business Owners!

    October 24, 2016 by Total Fire and Safety

    National Fire Prevention Week has been a yearly campaign since 1922, occurring on the Sunday through Saturday period that includes the date October 9. It was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire on October 8-9, 1871. This infamous tragedy claimed 250 lives, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and left 100,000 people homeless. Fire prevention week is a day to remember this event and also what kind of effect a fire could potentially have on our lives.

    No matter what kind of business you own or manage, October is also the perfect time to remember how devastating fire can be, and how important it is to be ready for an emergency. A fire can cause serious damage to your company’s facility and equipment, not to mention employees! This is as good a month as any to make sure you have these five ‘checks’ taken care of within the boundaries of your office and/or facilities.

    1. Are your fire hazard risks assessed properly? Some businesses have greater fire risks than others, but there are very few businesses that have none. They all need to be properly assessed so the proper prevention can be implemented accordingly. Some local governments offer fire marshal visits, or workplace fire risk assessment guidance from your building’s property manager.  A commercial fire safety firm can also help you mitigate problems.

    2. Do you have emergency plans in place? Do you have an evacuation plan and do your employees know what to do in case of a fire? Do they fire training, so that they know how to use fire extinguishers, and when to use them?

    3. Do you have the right fire protection equipment installed? Your fire safety equipment needs likely include sprinkler systems, but you might need more to be up to code or compliant with regulations. Industries dealing with machinery that overheats or flammable substances might need a suppression system tailored to your business.

    4. Do you have scheduled routine equipment inspections?  Even if you have the right sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, and suppression systems, they also need routine inspections (at least annually) to keep everything in working order. Know what tests you can do yourself, and which require professional visits from fire alarm technicians.

     

    Even though Fire Prevention Week is over, it’s not too late to think about your fire prevention and safety. Perhaps now is the time to take action. Contact us or call 1.630.960.5060 for more information on any of the fire steps detailed above, from alarm installation to employee training programs.

     


  4. The Fire Alarm Technician: Not All Superheroes Wear Capes!

    September 20, 2016 by Total Fire and Safety

    Since they don’t wear a cape or colorful tights, to the untrained eye the fire alarm technician is just the guy who comes in to check the safety of your fire equipment. But in reality, the fire alarm technicians at Total Fire & Safety are specialized employees who actually end up saving lives by making sure your equipment functions properly in an emergency situation at your commercial building!
    Yet these humble heroes walking among us in a simple Total Fire & Safety uniforms often go unappreciated because people don’t understand the special powers they possess and bring into play on a daily basis. For example, all Total Fire & Safety fire alarm technicians…

    1. Battle the forces of evil at a moment’s notice! When the call comes, the fire alarm technicians jump in their “Total Firemobile” and rush bravely in to battle the villain, whether it’s a malfunctioning backflow problem or a damaged sprinkler system. They soundly thwart the forces of equipment failure by repairing and replacing the critical systems, always emerging victorious. While Chicagoland sleeps, the Total Fire & Safety technician is on the job, throughout greater Chicagoland, lndiana and lower Wisconsin.  

    2. Excel at searching out the right clues to every puzzle. The crafty fire alarm technician can decode the secret language and uncover the valuable clues in blueprints, diagrams, specifications, schematics and operational/product manuals to find the information that saves the day and restores equipment to its proper functionality. It’s all in a day’s work for the fire alarm technician!

    3. Protect their customers and save the day. The Total Fire & Safety fire alarm technician deals directly with our customers, listening to their needs and providing the best, safest solutions for their situation. With professionalism and skill, they communicate with headquarters to make sure all is well for their customer, humbly accepting a mere humble thanks for their efforts.

    4. Go wherever the wind takes them…even overnight. The life of a fire alarm technician is filled with adventure on the road, going where they are called and serving willingly. Total Fire & Safety fire alarm technicians are flexible enough to travel overnight in order to perform inspections and repairs for clients that are not so close by. That’s what all heroes do!

    Bravery, trustworthiness and competence are all marks of the highly trained fire alarm technicans at Total Fire & Safety. Do you have what it takes? We are always looking for skilled individuals to join our force of heroes. Those who qualify can apply at apply at Total Fire & Safety for a distinguished career as well as competitive compensation and benefits such as health and dental and a position in a growing company with room for advancement. Contact Total Fire & Safety today about opportunities and learn how being an everyday hero with us can lead to exciting opportunities to do good in the world!

     


  5. Foundry Fire Demonstrates Importance of Proper Commercial Fire Protection

    December 21, 2015 by Total Fire and Safety

    Photo from Daily Herald Business Ledger/Laura Stoecker/lstoecker@dailyherald.com

    Business owners everywhere know they have to keep their fire protection systems up to code, but what happens when they don’t?

    In March 2014, a fire broke out in a foundry building located in Batavia, IL, caused by a careless employee. The fire happened when no one was working in the building, so no employees were hurt. However, the fire caused considerable damage to the foundry as well as the next-door business, Dewell & Dewell, which shares a wall with the foundry. Later, an investigation revealed that the reason the fire caused nearly $500K in damages was that the former tenant, Master Cast Inc., did not maintain a proper fire alarm and fire suppression system.

    Now, Master Cast Inc. is being taken to court in a suit alleging the company did not have proper fire alarms and commercial sprinkler systems. The building owner is seeking $450K in damages from Master Cast Inc., and Dewell & Dewell is seeking more than $50K. The lawsuit will come to court this February.

    This event is only one of the many cases every year in which a lack of properly installed fire safety equipment leads to extensive damage from fires. If your business isn’t up-to-code on all of your sprinklers, suppression systems and alarms, your business could face disastrous consequences.

    This fire also addresses an issue that businesses don’t always prepare for– employee fire safety training. According to the Kane County lawsuit, the fire started when an employee used a grinder near cardboard boxes. An employee who has been trained well would have avoided the fire hazard, and possibly even fight the fire, using an extinguisher the right way.

    The best way to avoid situations like this is to ensure that you have regularly scheduled fire equipment inspections. A professional service like Total Fire & Safety can keep your place of business up-to-code and inspected on a regular basis. For information on the many services available to prevent this kind of situation for your business, contact Total Fire & Safety.

    Read the latest in the court investigation here:

    http://dhbusinessledger.com/Content/Suburban-Trends-and-Issues/Suburban-Trends-and-Issues/Article/Lawsuit-Batavia-foundry-had-no-sprinklers-fire-caused-by-negligent-worker/87/172/17397


  6. Commercial Sprinkler Systems: Why Fire Sprinkler Inspection is Important

    December 10, 2014 by Total Fire and Safety

    commercial-sprinkler-maintenanceYour facility’s commercial sprinkler system lies dormant until their operation is critical during a life-threatening emergency. If they fail at that certain time, lives can be lost. Regular fire sprinkler inspection can ensure peak performance when the situation heats up!

    Sprinkler systems respond to heat, not smoke, and are carefully designed to activate early but only in real fire, not non-fire situations.  Sprinklers release much less water than a fire department would, however by the time the fire department arrives, more water is needed to extinguish the fire.

    One of our services at Total Fire & Safety is to perform regular, on-site sprinkler inspections to help our clients comply with NFPA 25. NFPA 25 is our guideline for inspection, testing, and maintenance of sprinkler systems (water-based fire protection systems) to avoid failure and ensure fast, effective response in a fire emergency.

    Sprinklers are very effective; however, a recently published report by John Hall, Jr. entitled “U.S. Experience with Sprinklers” revealed that in reported structure fires from 2007-2011, sprinklers operated 91% of the time in structures large enough to activate sprinklers. Their effectiveness rate was 96%, which is good, but not perfect.  Why would a sprinkler system fail in an emergency?

    The National Fire Prevention Research Foundation (NFRP) prepared a report that they recently presented at a workshop in Chicago. Their findings on the major reasons for sprinkler system failure were:

    64%  Shutoff of the system before fire began. This may occur in the course of routine inspection or maintenance and is easy to monitor for safety.

    17% Lack of maintenance.  If a sprinkler system is not maintained, chances are it will not operate correctly in an emergency.

    6% Manual intervention that defeated the system.  Sometimes we are to blame for turning off or damaging the system during its deployment.

    6% Inappropriate system for the type of fire. A competent fire protection company like Total Fire & Safety can help you  determine the right sprinkler system for the job, whether it be wet pipe or dry pipe systems.

    7% Component damage.  Proper inspection and maintenance can ensure that the fire protection equipment is in proper working order.

    As you can see, your sprinkler system must be well maintained and ready to deploy at all times in case of a fire.  When is the last time you had your sprinkler system inspected? Call Total Fire & Safety today to see if maintenance or an upgrade is needed at 630-960-5060.

     

     


  7. Halloween Safety Tips for Residential Buildings

    October 24, 2014 by Total Fire and Safety

    Halloween is upon us, and although we don’t light jack o’lanterns or don flammable costumes in our offices, it’s important for owners of residential buildings to be somewhat prepared for this fire prone holiday.

     

    According to the National Fire Protection Association, decorations start more than 1,000 home fires per year. From 2006-2010, these fires caused an estimated average of six civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries, and $16 million in direct property damage per year.  For owners of residential buildings and their tenants, there are many good tips on Halloween fire prevention available from NFPA’s Halloween Safety Tip Sheet.  It’s information worth passing on to your residents so they stay safe this holiday.

     

    What can owners of residential buildings do to prepare for Halloween?

     

    Fire Alarms in Residential Buildings

    Make sure your fire alarms, including your wireless fire alarm monitoring systems, are in working order and in compliance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 72, which provides the latest safety provisions to meet society’s changing fire detection, signaling, and emergency communications demands.

     

    Fire Extinguishers in Residential Buildings

    When is the last time you had your fire extinguishers inspected?  NFPA 10 states that all portable fire extinguishers should be inspected on a monthly basis and maintained by a licensed fire protection company on an annual basis. Total Fire & Safety performs a multi-point check on all portable fire extinguishers:

     

    *Visual Examination for dents, rust, corrosion, pitting or other shell damage

    *Test/Maintenance History to determine the need for internal maintenance or hydrostatic testing

    *Pressure Gauge check to insure proper pressurization

    *Weight check to verify the correct amount of extinguishing agent

    *Discharge Hose inspected for blockage or damage

    *Locking Pin inspected so it can be easily deployed in an emergency

    *Handle/Lever checked for smooth discharge operation

    *Cleaning using a degreasing solution

    *Inspection Certification documented by attaching a safety flag and service tag

    *Mounting Bracket checked for proper installation on mounting hook or bracket

    *Hazard Application reviewed so the fire extinguisher is the correct type for potential fire hazards

     

    Residential Sprinkler Systems

    In the event of a fire, the sprinkler systems are critical. Make sure they are recently inspected and ready to go in compliance with NFPA 25-2002. Total Fire & Safety does a comprehensive check of residential sprinkler systems, including inspection of functionality, control valves, and electric alarm operation.

     

    If you own a residential building, be sure your fire safety is up to standard this Halloween. If you need assistance, feel free to call Total Fire & Safety at 630.960.5060.


  8. Total Fire & Safety Helping Downers Grove with Wireless Launch

    September 26, 2014 by Total Fire and Safety

    Total Fire & Safety has completed its installation of the wireless fire alarm monitoring system at the Village Operations Center (VOC) for the Village of Downers Grove.  By now, most Downers Grove businesses have received a letter like the one shown below, informing them of the new system and encouraging them to come on board with wireless fire alarm monitoring. The benefits of wireless fire alarm monitoring are many and far outweigh the increased cost of monitoring services. For businesses, the biggest cost saving is the elimination of land lines that can amount to a 70% cost reduction annually in monitoring related service fees.


    OTHER FIRE PROTECTION PROVIDERS…..

    AES 7744/7788F Transmitter

    As a business in Downers Grove, you can contract with any fire protection services provider, however their equipment must be in compliance with the VOC and programmed through Total Fire & Safety. Total Fire & Safety is maintaining the wireless network for the Village, and is therefore in charge of making sure all radios and wireless equipment are programmed correctly and seamlessly connected to the VOC.

    The chosen radio unit for the businesses in Downers Grove is the model shown here, the AES Corporation 7744/7788F transmitter. Again, all transmitters, whether purchased through Total Fire & Safety, directly from AES,  or through your fire protection provider, must be programmed through Total Fire & Safety.

    Total Fire has already held information sessions with other area fire protection services to introduce the new system and review operating regulations and compliance issues with the VOC.    If you have a fire protection service provider OTHER than Total Fire & Safety, they should make sure they are in compliance with the VOC specifications and contact Total Fire & Safety for their programming needs.

    This is all discussed in the letter below, that they should have received recently from the Downer Grove VOC:

     

     

     

     

     

    If you have any questions concerning installation or programming, please contact Jeff Buff, Total Fire & Safety at (630) 960-5060 ext. 121 or click here to contact us and use the promo code DWG for a special introductory monitoring rate for Downers Grove businesses.  For any questions concerning permitting or procedures, please contact the Downers Grove Fire Prevention Bureau at (630) 434-5983.


  9. Downers Grove Gets Ready to Cut the Cord, with Help From Total Fire & Safety

    September 19, 2014 by Total Fire and Safety

    We have been very busy lately installing a new wireless fire alarm monitoring system for the Village of Downers Grove, IL. Total Fire & Safety was proud to be selected to install the upgrade, which will allow local businesses to connect wirelessly to the village operations center for more efficient, cost-effective service from their local fire department.

    Businesses will be able to cut the cord and “go wireless” in Downers Grove beginning October 1st!

    Downers Grove joins other local Chicagoland communities that recognize the savings and efficiency involved in upgrading to wireless fire alarm monitoring. Wireless systems are more reliable than phone lines in receiving fire alarm transmissions to the dispatch center, thereby reducing the amount of false alarms they receive.

    For most business owners, changing to a wireless alarm system will be an initial modest investment with an increase in monitoring fees from the village. However, businesses can save up to 70% on their monthly fire monitoring systems by disconnecting the two land lines they will no longer need with the wireless technology. More than 1,000 businesses in the village are now able to upgrade to a wireless system and start saving!

    If you are a business in Downers Grove interested in going wireless, hire the company that the Fire Department hired! Enjoy a special introductory monitoring price of $30/month by contacting Jeff Buff at Total Fire & Safety at 630.960.5060 ex. 121 or by submitting the contact form with the promo code DWG. You must also download the application for wireless connection from the Downers Grove website at www.downers.us/bus.

    We look forward to helping business owners in the Village of Downers Grove take advantage of this opportunity to upgrade to a safer, faster system! If you would like a free evaluation of your current fire monitoring services, also contact us at 630.960.5060.

     

     

     

     


  10. Announcing….Our New Wireless Fire Alarm Monitoring Page!

    May 21, 2014 by Total Fire and Safety

     
    Total Fire & Safety is welcoming some new additions to our website, including the “Wireless Fire Alarm Monitoring” page!

    More and more municipalities, particularly in Chicagoland, are looking to reduce costs and increase efficiency by mandating wireless  fire alarm systems for the businesses in their service area. Wireless fire alarm monitoring is faster, safer, and more reliable than phone-  based systems that can fail from environmental factors. Also, with wireless fire alarm systems, businesses can disconnect their unneeded landlines and realize a substantial monthly savings.

    Our new page includes information about Vigilant™ fire alarm monitoring equipment, which is our preferred manufacturer of fire safety equipment. Vigilant is an industry leader known for its affordable, yet high-quality products that easily retrofit in single-unit facilities or multi-story office buildings.

    We’ve  also added new icons on our home page to signify three growing and very important parts of our business—life safety training, first aid supplies and emergency lighting.

    A new icon on our home page indicates our established  life safety code training service which prepares employees for fire scenarios and teaches them the correct use of fire safety equipment. For businesses where fire prevention is a priority, these classes prepare employees with the information they need to keep themselves, their co-workers, and the facility safe.  Classes are held at your location in a classroom setting with a hands-on, live burn session so employees get firsthand experience in extinguishing a fire. Other classes we offer include: hood suppression systems, paint booth suppression systems, proper evacuation procedures, fire sprinkler systems proper apparatus usage and more.

    Everyone knows the red cross means safety, and the recently added icon represents our  first aid supplies.  Our service protects your employees with  stocked cabinets of quality first aid supplies that we routinely replenish. When a minor injury occurs, your business is prepared, with the the right supplies on hand. We make the program affordable by only charging for the products your employees use. Our service helps businesses meet OSHA Regulation CFR 1910.151 (b).

    Our third new home page icon is the exit sign, which represents our  emergency lighting and LED emergency lighting, including signs and combination exit sign and lighting units. We keep your emergency lighting in working order with regular inspections to ensure that all units are in compliance, mounted correctly and free of damage, with batteries charged and bulbs in proper working order. We are also specialists in helping companies convert their emergency signage from conventional light bulbs to LEDs, which has helped many of our clients reduce their service and supply cost.

    We regularly provide free evaluations of your existing systems and can make recommendations on how to reduce costs for your company. For more information on our quality products and services, or to schedule an evaluation of your site, visit us at totalfireandsafety.com or call us at 630-960-5060.