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  1. Parent’s Guide to Campus Fire Safety

    September 19, 2018 by Total Fire and Safety

    Campus fire safety is not likely a hot button issue with college students or parents when they first move on campus. But fires occur on college campuses more than parents and students realize. According to The Center for Campus Fire Safety, between 2000-2018, more than 92 fatal fires killed 132 people on college campuses, Greek housing, or off-campus housing within three miles of college housing.  The NFPA reports that U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 3,870 fires in dormitories and Greek housing from 2009 to 2013.  Cooking equipment accounts for 86 percent of the fires.

    Most dormitories have specific rules and regulations in place to reduce the possibility of fire, but  sometimes drugs and alcohol consumption can inhibit a student’s ability to recognize danger zones. It’s worth mentioning to your child that special care must be taken with the following items, even when they allowed by residence:

    • Space heaters
    • Candles
    • Stovetops
    • Cooking utensils
    • Smoking
    • Overloaded power strips

    When you move your child in, you can help keep them safe by keeping fire safety in mind:

    • Check for smoke alarms and fire sprinklers. These should be located in hallways, lobbies, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc.
    • Look for a posted escape route. If there are no plans posted, make one.
    • Check with school officials when and how often fire drills are planned. There should be fire drills on-campus, in Greek housing and off-campus housing.
    • Keep all exits clear for a safe escape path.
    • Do not use flame candles, opt for battery operated candles.
    • Practice fire safety in the kitchen. Do not leave food cooking unattended and do not cook when tired or in a compromised state.  Unplug appliances. Do not put out grease fires with water.
    • Do not overload outlets.
    • Turn off electronics and appliances, like computers, hair tools, etc. Hit the off button when leaving the room.
    • Clean the lint trap from the dryer, before and after each use.
    • Smoke outside! Do not dispose of cigarettes, etc. in the garbage.

    Unfortunately, one of these potential fire hazards became real when a mother lost her daughter in a fire while she was attending Reed College near Portland, Oregon.  Because of this tragedy, the victim’s mother partnered with the Portland Fire and Rescue to promote the “Zero Death Initiative.”  The program aims to educate students, who are on their own for the first time, about fire safety.

    Starting college is a big step into a new world for everyone but campus fire safety should not be lost in the fray.  Take the precautionary measures now so your child can stay focused on the year ahead.  Total Fire and Safety keeps residential buildings equipped and compliant with proper fire code regulations. To find out more about what we do, give us a call at 630-960-5060.

     

     

     

     

     

     


  2. Are There More Women Firefighters in Our Future?

    August 23, 2018 by Total Fire and Safety

     

    Are there more women firefighters in our future?  YES! Groups of Suburban Chicago young women are proving it. This past summer a local Fire Protection District hosted a Girls Firefighter Summer Camp which was enthusiastically attended by many girls who are considering firefighting as a career. The girls learned all aspects of firefighting through hands-on training, like climbing ladders, treating patients, and putting out fires, etc.  The goal of the camp was to show girls they can do the job, but they need look no further than the past and the present for their role models and inspiration.

    Women Firefighters in History

    Women have been firefighters for over 200 years which is an amazing fact in an industry so dominated by males.

    • Molly Williams was the first woman firefighter. She was a slave in New York City until she became a member of Oceanus Engine Company #11 in 1815. Although she was as tough as the men, she always wore a calico dress and checkered apron to the fires.
    • In 1820, Marina Betts joined the Pittsburgh fire department, a career that lasted 10 years.
    • During WWII, two military fire departments in Illinois were staffed entirely by women volunteers.
    • Lauren Howard was the first career female firefighter in Chicago. She joined the force in 1980 and was the only woman until 1986.

    Women Firefighters Today

    According to NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), 252,000 women work in the firefighting industry, but nationwide, only 4% of firefighters are women, a staggering number when compared to the 90% of women nurses and 97.5% of women teachers. In fact, females in farming and construction have a higher percent than female firefighters.

    The International Fire Chief’s Association started a council for women fire chiefs in 2017 to network, share ideas and identify strategies to improve their organization. The council of 16 represented approximately 50 female fire chiefs across the country.

    Even for the strongest female, the road to firefighting is not easy. Cities like Joliet, Illinois are hiring their first female recruit this year in their long, century old history. Another department in East Point, Georgia recently made headlines by hiring the first ever African-American female fire chief in the United States.

    Male and Female Qualities

    Let’s face it. When someone’s house is burning, most people don’t care if it’s a man or woman who shows up to help…they just want a good firefighter. And the  attributes of a good firefighter are numerous and have nothing to do with gender.

    • Honest and dependable
    • Learns quickly; can remember and use their training when the pressure is on
    • Physically fit; is committed to a healthy lifestyle and to maintaining fitness
    • Functions well as part of a team
    • Cares about and respects co-workers and members of the community
    • Communicates and listens well
    • Is dedicated to her/his work
    • Has, and uses, common sense
    • Is emotionally stable and deals with stress appropriately
    • Has a sense of humor
    • Is open-minded and flexible, willing to try new things and listen to new ideas

    At Total Fire & Safety, we believe our work in inspection, installation and maintenance of fire safety equipment helps keep firefighters safe by helping minimize fire damage and providing what’s needed to fight fires until the force arrives. We salute all fire fighters and especially the brave women of the force who work to keep us safe!


  3. Downers Grove Businesses: Your Fire Hydrants May Need Inspection

    June 21, 2018 by Total Fire and Safety

    Everyone has seen the fire hydrants on the side of the road and everyone knows how important they are for firefighters to do their job. Can you imagine what would happen if in the heat of an emergency, a fireman hooked up the hose to the hydrant and it failed? That’s why municipalities perform regular inspection and maintenance on “public” fire hydrants.

    However, you may also have fire hydrants installed on your private property which are considered yours to inspect and maintain.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a standard that is adopted by many village ordinances and outlines the inspection, testing and maintenance requirements that need to be followed.

    In other words, to ensure the health of the overall water supply system and the proper functioning of the hydrants located most closely to your business, it is your responsibility to maintain any fire hydrants on your private property.

    Recently, the Village of Downers Grove began notifying building owners who have hydrants on their private property of any need for routine inspection, testing and maintenance. The Village is setting an aggressive schedule for ensuring all municipal water mains and hydrants receive the proper testing as outlined by the NFPA standard by September 1. Property owners can contact any commercial fire protection company they want to complete the inspection.

    If you need fire hydrant service, Total Fire & Safety can help! We are a trusted, full-service provider of commercial fire protection that has been serving the Village of Downers Grove for more than 30 years.
    Our fire hydrant service includes:

    • Full inspection
    • Any needed repair
    • Reporting to DGFD and all third parties (www.theComplianceEngine.com) as directed by the Fire Department

    If you are not sure of whether your fire hydrants are in compliance, you can check with the Village of Downers Grove Water Department at 630-434-5460 or the Downers Grove Fire Department at 630-434-5983.

    If you would like to schedule your hydrant service today, contact us at 630-960-5060.

    Testing ensures the proper flow and flushes debris from the hydrant.

     


  4. Fire Safety Symposium

    March 21, 2018 by admin

    Join us for the 2018 Fire Safety Symposium

    at Total Fire & Safety!

    Register below! Space is limited!


  5. Are You In the Dark About Emergency Exit Lights?

    March 15, 2018 by Total Fire and Safety

    Nobody thinks much about emergency exit lights. But if the power suddenly goes out, smoke fills the room and you can’t see a foot in front of you, relying on the emergency lights may be your only means of escape.

    Emergency exit lights are essential to safety in any dangerous situation. They can alarm someone in a fire, be the only source of light in the dark, and the key to safely exiting the building. Emergency exit lights are often overlooked and taken for granted, but take note of how many you come across every day. Do you realize how many requirements and regulations go into the installation and maintenance of one exit sign?

    There are numerous agencies that govern emergency exit lighting and signs: OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), NFPA (National Fire Protection Administration, JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the International Building Code and International Fire Code. Above all these agencies, the local authority is responsible for monitoring and enforcing building/fire codes.

    According to OSHA, an exit route is defined as a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety. There are three parts to an exit route:

    • Exit access-part of the exit route that leads to an exit.
    • Exit-part of the exit route that is separated from other areas and provides a safe means of travel to exit discharge.
    • Exit discharge-part of the exit route that leads to directly outside or refuge area.

    OSHA’s requirements for the lighting of these afore mentioned exit routes is covered under 1910.37(b). It states that each exit route must be sufficiently lighted so an employee with normal vision can see along the exit route and each exit must be clearly visible and marked by a sign reading “EXIT.” Additional information for OSHA requirements can be found at www.osha.gov.

    The NFPA guidance for emergency exit lighting and signs can be found in the NFPA 101, Life Safety Code. The NFPA’s Life Safety Code provides information for placement, illumination, and visibility for exit signs.

    • Placement of exit sign. Any exit signs must be located so that no point in an exit access area is more than the sign’s viewing distance, or 100 feet from the nearest sign.
    • Visibility of exit signs-Every sign must be located and of such size, distinctive color and design that is visible and contrasts from the background of its placement. NFPA also states no decorations, furnishings, or equipment that impairs visibility of a sign shall be permitted. Nothing should be placed near an exit sign that distracts attention and inhibits visibility of an exit sign.
    • Illumination of Exit Signs-The NFPA states all exit signs must be illuminated by a reliable light source and legible in normal and emergency exit lighting modes. There are two categories of illumination: external illumination, which comes from outside the exit sign and internal illumination, which comes from a source inside an exit sign.

    According to the NFPA, emergency illumination must be provided for a minimum of 1.5 hours in the event of power outage. The emergency lighting must be illuminated not less than an average of one lumen per square foot. The maximum illumination at any point can be 40 times the minimum illumination. All emergency exit lighting must be able to provide lighting automatically when normal light is interrupted.

    Many emergency exit lights are now using LED lights. The NFPA states that LED lights are longer lasting, provide better light and are most durable. In emergency situations, LED lights emit sufficient lighting and are most effective when placed properly. They are also most energy efficient, saving the building money.

    According to the NFPA requirements for testing, there are three categories of emergency lights: traditional, self-testing, and computer base self-testing. A monthly activation test which involves having the lights illuminate for no less than 30 seconds and an annual test which keeps the lights illuminated for 1.5 hours, simulating a long-term emergency. Records of these test must be maintained for inspection.

    Many regulations, codes, and considerations go into the signs and lights you see every day so it is important to have regular maintenance and testing of these lights. Total Fire and Safety has a knowledge team for inspecting emergency exit lighting. With regular maintenance and testing from Total Fire and Safety, you can be assured your emergency exit lighting is up to code and the safety of your employees/tenants is assured. Give us a call today 630-960-5060.


  6. 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.


  7. 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.


  8. 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!


  9. 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.


  10. 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.