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  1. Fire in the Office! Do You Have a Fire Emergency Preparedness Plan?

    February 13, 2018 by Total Fire and Safety

     

    When a ballistic missile warning sounded in Hawaii recently, few people had an emergency preparedness plan in place. Instead, people were sent into panic. Parents threw their children into sewers, people caught in traffic ran from their cars, some Googled “how to shelter from a nuclear bomb.”  We can look at this now in hindsight and think we would have handled it differently. But would we?  Whether it’s a ballistic missile, tornado, or a fire it is important to have an emergency preparedness plan.

    When a fire occurs in the office, people are likely to react the same way. However, if employees understand what’s going on, what to do, where to go and how to get there, panic will not set in. A fire emergency preparedness plan will help employees feel in control during an emergency and do what needs to be done. .

    One way to help employees respond appropriately in an emergency is to remember to REACT:

    • R-Remove persons from danger. Know the location of fire exits and that they are not blocked. Steer clear of elevators and equip them with warning signs: in case of fire do not use. They can trap people and must be available to firefighters. Figure out a designated meeting area for employees, safe from danger. Make a procedure in case of entrapment in the building. Assign someone to always keep a list of employees and visitors, so you can begin a roll call once in the safety area.
    • E-Ensure doors and windows are closed. Keep doors and windows closed to prevent spreading of the fire.
    • A-Activate building alarm. Make sure alarms or a warning signal are working properly and that your employees are familiar with the sound. Most importantly, have regular fire drills.
    • C-Call the fire department. Never investigate the fire on your own. Time is minimal for your employees to reach safety quickly.
    • T-Treat all fires as dangerous.

    A fire preparedness plan also includes having the right equipment and in working order too. Does your place of business have everything it needs to survive a fire? And has it been inspected lately? Know that your facility is up-to-date on the systems it needs to have ready to go in case of a fire:

    Don’t forget that the second part of having the right fire equipment is having employees that can operate the equipment safely. Total Fire and Safety offers training courses for employees on all our technologies and equipment. Having employees properly trained improves chances of putting out small fires.

    As you can see there are many safety precautions to include in a fire preparedness plan.  If your building does not have the proper safety equipment or it is not up to date, there could be catastrophic consequences. Total Fire and Safety always has the well-being of the customer in mind as we complete our inspections.  We never give less than 100 precent because you can never be too prepared for a fire. Contact us at: 630.960.5060

     


  2. Is it time for Fire Extinguisher Service?

    January 15, 2018 by Total Fire and Safety

    Fire-Extinguisher-Service

    There’s no better way to ring in the new year and make sure your business is ready for any emergency 2018 brings than with proper fire extinguisher service  at all of your locations. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that all portable fire extinguishers be inspected on a monthly basis and maintained by a licensed fire protection company on an annual basis. Yet each year nearly 25,000 fires cost companies over billions of dollars from not only recovery of property and premises but worker’s compensation filings and lawsuits from employees. Sometimes damages could have been reduced if employees had been aware of and actually used the fire extinguishers available.

    Properly working fire extinguishers are a first line of defense against fires and can significantly minimize damage until help can arrive.  Total Fire and Safety provides a thorough inspection that begins when we walk in the door, and continues throughout the building. Our fire extinguisher service contains our twelve-point check.  What are the 12 points?

    • Visual examination: We ensure the device is free of dents, rust, corrosion, and other related hazards.
    • Test/Maintenance history: We review the test/maintenance history to ensure the internal system is active.
    • Pressure Gauge: We check the pressure gauge to confirm the compression in the tank.
    • Weight: We make sure the right amount of fluid is inside the tank.
    • Discharge hose: We remove it and inspect for irregularities.
    • Locking pin: We check for ease of removal in the event of a disaster.
    • Handle/Lever: We ensure that the handle/pin will discharge smoothly.
    • Clean Extinguisher: We degrease any pertinent areas.
    • Inspection certification: We attach a safety flag and service tag to signify when service was completed.
    • Extinguisher: We return it to the designated location.
    • Mounting Bracket: We secure the extinguisher on its mount correctly.
    • Hazard Application: We confirm you have the proper extinguisher type installed for your application.

    Hand in hand with having extinguishers is teaching your employees how to use them. That’s why Total Fire & Safety also offers training courses for your employees/tenants so that in the case of an actual emergency, they will not hesitate to reach for the fire extinguisher.

    Fire extinguishers are not only legally required but also give employees piece of mind, especially if they know how to use them. Employees appreciate working for a company that has their safety in mind. However, fire extinguisher service is definitely key.

    If your fire extinguishers need service or are due for an inspection, please don’t hesitate to contact us at contact us at 630.960.5060.


  3. Are Your Emergency Eye Wash Stations Ready for Action?

    December 19, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    If you have hazardous chemicals onsite, you likely need an emergency eyewash station.

    One of the many vital services we provide at Total Fire and Safety is performing inspections on emergency showers and eye wash stations. Like any fire or safety equipment, routine inspections are a must to ensure your equipment will perform perfectly at a moment’s notice. In an emergency situation, nobody has the time troubleshoot an underperforming piece of equipment, let alone attempt to repair it. We’ve outlined the steps we take to ensure your eye wash station or emergency shower is ready in an emergency:

    1. Ensure everything about the station’s location is correct. We first make sure the station is in an area it is needed. A working emergency eye wash station is of no use if it is not accessible to those who may need it. While showers tend to be fixed structures, eye wash stations can be either fixed or mobile. We also make sure the station is unobstructed and away from any source of debris or hazardous spray, which could compromise its usefulness.

    2. Next, we inspect the exterior. We visually check every part of the station for any signs of damage, such as leaks, cracks, or other signs. Then, we check that all the hardware is intact and correctly in place, such as the caps, valves, and pull rods for showers. We then verify everything is at the correct height and that all signage is in its proper place before moving on to the next step.

    3. After the visual inspection, we test the operation. For every eye wash station, we check the flow of water by gauging its height, volume, and response time from the moment of activation. For showers, we verify the water flows properly and onto the correct area.

    4. For portable units, we empty and replace the water. This is to ensure the water in the reservoir is not only full, but clean and fresh. This step is also taken so that we can rinse out the inside as well as check for foreign debris or contaminants which could compromise the integrity of the eye wash station.

    5. Finally, we clean everything and document the inspection. This entails wiping everything down with a rag and cleaning solution. Once this is done, we apply the inspection tag to the station to communicate to others when the inspection took place and what was performed. We also keep our own records of the inspection by filling out detailed information in an eyewash report.

    In any facility that may contain hazardous substances, you may find an emergency shower or eye wash station idly waiting until needed. These units are not given much thought, but anyone who has ever used one in an emergency situation will vouch for its importance to stay in proper working order. If you have any questions or concerns about your emergency eye wash station or shower, or about the readiness of any of your fire safety equipment, please contact us.


  4. TFS at the Co-op and Condo Expo

    November 29, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    Robin Jones, business development (left) and Jason LeGrand (outside sales) at the latest Co-op and Condo Expo at Navy Pier in Chicago.

    Did you stop by and see us at the latest Co-op and Condo Expo at Navy Pier in Chicago?

    Our team was on hand to talk to condo owners, homeowner association board members, property managers and apartment building owners about their fire safety. We participate every year, not only to meet new prospective clients, but to see our many satisfied ones that come for the educational seminars and exhibit floors.

    Visitors to our booth walk away with one of our fire extinguisher-shaped stress balls (if you don’t have one, ask your Total Fire & Safety technician!) and a better understanding of their fire safety responsibilities as property owners or managers. What were the most frequently asked questions?

    • How do I know if I am in compliance? (We can help perform inspections to make sure buildings are up-to-date with NFPA requirements, which vary depending on your structure and occupancy.)
    • What is this wireless fire alarm technology and will it save me money? (Besides making sure your fire alarms are inspected, in compliance and operational, we can update your old equipment to reduce maintenance costs and improve performance.)
    • What do my tenants need to know about fire safety? (We offer solutions and fire safety training on a customized basis.)
    • Do you offer first aid kits? (We offer a variety of commercial first aid kits based on your environment’s needs. A first aid kit can make a big difference in the comfort and safety of your tenants or employees!)
    • Why Total Fire & Safety? (We are one of the most experienced commercial fire protection companies on the market and make use of some of the most technologically advanced reporting features available.)

    We hope to see you at the show next year! Until then, if we can be of assistance with your fire safety needs, don’t hesitate to contact us  at 630.960.5060.


  5. Are your Fire Hoses Compliant with NFPA?

    October 31, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    All fire safety equipment is subject to rigorous standards for safety and reliability, and fire hoses—the subject of NFPA 1962—are no exception. Despite looking like a relatively simple device, a fire hose is one of the most important lines of defense in firefighting. NFPA 1962 is an important revised standard for fire hoses; an outline which ensures that all hoses and their components will perform safely and as expected. At Total Fire and Safety, we take pride in ensuring that every fire hose meets all safety specifications.

    NFPA 1962 Fire Hose Pre-Inspection

    Before the inspection begins, we ensure the hose is easily accessible in all directions, and that there is a clear path to it. If the time comes to use a hose, there will be no time to clear obstructions. After this, we remove the cover from the hose and inspect the nozzle first, ensuring it opens and closes freely.

    NFPA 1962 Inspection

    First, we unravel the hose by the nozzle and find the tags and markings which indicate such information as the hose’s manufacture date and when it was last inspected. Once the hose is unraveled, we perform a visual inspection of the hose, inside and out, looking for any signs of wear or damage. This can be anything from cuts, to frays, to dry rotting, to contamination by a foreign substance. According to NFPA 1962, if there is any issue with the hose, we ensure it is either hydro tested or replaced. We also check the hose to ensure it is completely dry, inside and out. If we find evidence of water, we perform a hydro test to verify the hose is still up to code.

    NFPA 1962 Post-Inspection

    Once the inspection is complete, we carefully re-rack it to ensure it does not crack, fray, or wear prematurely over time. We also reconnect the hose to the standpipe and close the nozzle. We conclude the inspection by replacing the cover around the hose and documenting our procedure by placing an inspection tag around the standpipe.

    At Total Fire and Safety, our inspectors are fully trained and up-to-date in all safety regulations—including NFPA 1962—to ensure your facility is safe and up to code. If you have any questions about your own facility’s fire preparedness, or if you are due for an inspection, don’t hesitate to contact us.


  6. Total Fire & Safety Remembers Mary Ann Schultz

    October 11, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    On Thursday, June 29, 2017, the Total Fire & Safety family said goodbye to a much-loved matriarch, Mary Ann Schultz. She was the wife of Total Fire & Safety’s founder, Glenn Schultz, and was always a great supporter of the family business. She was the loving mother of four children and eleven grandchildren. She lived in the Chicago suburbs for much of her adult life, and was involved in the community, through church and the family business.

    Mary Ann’s family (her husband Glenn and children Kerry, Bryan, Michelle and Brad) have started a fundraiser in Mary Ann’s name. They are fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, through the Light the Night Walk which will take place October 21, 2017 in the Oak Brook Park District. Those who wish to remember Mary Ann by supporting this cause can donate, or register to walk on the Schultz’s team, “Strong Like You.”

    We here at Total Fire & Safety offer our greatest condolences to the Schultz family, and support them in their efforts to fund research for a future without blood cancers. They are well on their way to making their goal of $5,000 in donations. Those who wish to donate or register for the Light the Night Walk can do so at: http://pages.lightthenight.org/il/wsuburban17/StrongLikeYou

    Update as of October 22, 2017: The walk raised $7,600 in Mary Ann’s name. Thank you all for participating!


  7. What is Fire Extinguisher Maintenance?

    September 4, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    Walk into any building and you’re sure to see a fire extinguisher hanging somewhere on a wall, and although it doesn’t look it, that extinguisher requires maintenance. It does more than just sit idly until a dire situation calls for its immediate use. Most people overlook these crucial pieces of safety equipment—often to the point of not even knowing anything about it. Think about the fire extinguisher in your home or office—do you know if it is fully charged? Do you know if you will be able to depend on it to successfully extinguish a flame if the need arises?

    This is why the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires that that all portable fire extinguishers be inspected on a monthly basis (NFPA 10, Section 6.2.1) and maintained by a licensed fire protection company on an annual basis. (NFPA 10, Section 6.3.1)

    We take fire extinguisher maintenance seriously at Total Fire and Safety, and perform rigorous inspections of fire safety equipment, including our 12-point portable fire extinguisher service check. People often ask us what goes into inspecting a fire extinguisher, so we’ve decided to share our technicians’ exhaustive process:

    An inspection begins the moment we walk inside the door. At this point we already have all our tools and materials in hand to perform a proper inspection of the facility. To begin our process of fire extinguisher maintenance, we walk throughout the facility, ensuring all fire extinguishers are properly located and easily accessible. If there is not a clear path to an extinguisher, we may ask the customer to move any obstructions (We are not able to move any obstructions ourselves due to liability reasons).

    We check that the extinguisher is charged and ensure it is the correct type for your facility’s hazards. For example, a kitchen requires a different type of extinguisher (or even a fire suppression system) than a server room. We verify that it will work for the type of fire which may occur in that area. In addition, we check the gauge and carefully weigh the extinguisher to ensure its pressure is in the proper range.

    We perform a visual inspection and check such data as manufacture date and past fire extinguisher maintenance. We look for any signs of damage or any other reasons the extinguisher may need to be removed from service. We also check to see if maintenance is due. In some cases, extinguishers that have been dented have been tested and returned to service. We look for any markings to confirm this. One key aspect of proper fire extinguisher maintenance is communication between inspectors. All relevant information about the fire extinguisher’s maintenance history should be legible, so that any future inspectors know what we know.

    We inspect and test the extinguisher’s hardware, such as the hose, pin, handle, and lever. We remove the hose from the extinguisher and ensure it is not clogged or damaged. If so, we attempt to remove the clog. If we cannot fully clear the hose or if it is damaged, we replace the hose entirely. We also ensure the pin, handle, and lever are not bent or damaged in any other way.

    Finally, we check the bracket, clean the extinguisher, and place a new inspection tag on it. . Before hanging the extinguisher back up, we ensure the mounting bracket is the correct type for the extinguisher, and that it’s not damaged or incorrectly installed. We then wipe off any dirt, grime, etc., and make sure the gauge is legible. Our last step is to return the extinguisher to the bracket and apply a new inspection tag with the date we performed the inspection and the extinguisher type punched into it.

    While fire extinguisher maintenance is a rather straightforward procedure, it is crucial that it is performed diligently and properly, as all these devices may be counted on to save lives at a moment’s notice. We strongly recommend that everyone’s fire extinguishers be inspected on a routine basis by qualified professionals. If you have any questions about the condition of your fire safety equipment, or if your facility is due for an inspection, please contact us at 630.960.5060.


  8. 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

     

     


  9. 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.


  10. 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.