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  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. Danger on the Job: Keeping the Office Kitchen Safe

    November 5, 2018 by Total Fire and Safety

    Next to the everyday hustle and bustle of the average office, office kitchen fire safety is a secondary concern. However, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) reports that just over one-fifth of office fires begin in the kitchen or cooking area.  Twenty-nine percent are started by cooking equipment, the leading cause of fires in the office.  Although these fires started small, they caused major structure damage.

    With the holidays on the way and more employee parties sure to take place, the office kitchen will be used more than ever.  How can you prevent a fire from happening? How do you keep your employees safe and well fed at the same time?  Here are four important safety tips to help you get started:

    1. Replace worn or frayed power cords.
    Inspect power cords on the kitchen appliances. Are the wires exposed?  If so, the cord can short out and cause a fire.  Encourage your employees to keep an eye out for damaged cords.  Be sure to replace them as soon as they are found.  This one simple act will keep the office safe.

    2. Watch food as it cooks.
    It easy to become distracted in the office, whether its fellow coworkers gossiping or doing too many things at once. You wouldn’t leave food unattended at home and the office should not be any different.  To ensure food cooks properly, emphasize that employees must stay near appliances as they cook or heat food/beverage.  Employees using the kitchen also need to watch for signs of smoke or burning.  Doing so will ensure the safety of the entire building.

    3. Regularly clean appliances.
    We’ve all been there. We stick a (insert food item) in the microwave, oven, toaster, etc., and it explodes or leaves spillage behind.  However, we avoid cleaning, commonly thinking someone else will do it.  Spills and baked-in foods left behind can cause a fire. Cleaning kitchen equipment after use will prevent grease from accumulating which prevents combustion. These hazards can be avoided easily so remind employees to wipe up spills, food particles left behind, etc.

    4. Have employees trained to use a fire extinguisher.
    No matter how proactive you and your employees are, accidents still happen.  Having staff trained to use fire fighting equipment could mean the difference between a catastrophe or a minor incident.  Total Fire and Safety can train you and your employees to use a fire extinguisher, first aid equipment, and other lifesaving safety measures.

    With most office fires starting in the kitchen, it is important to educate employees on office kitchen fire safety.  Total Fire and Safety (TFS) offers a complete fire training program to educate employees on the proper techniques of fighting a fire.  Not only can your employees use these practices in the office, they can also apply them in their home.  Keep you, your staff, and your workplace fire safe. Give TFS a call today at 630-960-5060.


  3. 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.

     

     

     

     

     

     


  4. 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!


  5. Why Companies Fail Fire Extinguisher Inspections

    May 30, 2018 by Total Fire and Safety

     

    Most companies understand the mandate to have regular fire extinguisher inspections but many wonder why on earth a company could actually fail these inspections. After all, a fire extinguisher is rarely used so how can it need service?

    Chances are you see a fire extinguisher every day, but how closely do you look at it? Even one dent in the tank can change the outcome. According to the NFPA, nearly 30 percent of fire extinguishers are not in proper working order. Total Fire and Safety’s twelve-point check can ensure your company’s compliance. However, there are five main reasons why companies fail a fire extinguisher inspection.

    1. Unseen Damage– Corrosion or damage can occur over time in hard to see areas of the extinguisher, for example, rust within the tank. That is when a professional steps in and inspects the extinguisher inside and out. TFS will visually examine the extinguisher making sure it is free of dents, rust, or other hazards.

    2. Potential Hose Blockage– Debris can clog the hose or deterioration of the O-rings can occur over time, rendering a fire extinguisher useless in an emergency. TFS will remove the hose completely to check for irregularities.

    3. Possible Leaks– Whether large or small, a leak will cause the fire extinguisher to be inoperable. Anyone can check the pressure gauge to determine if there is a leak. However, if there is no pressure gauge, you will need a professional. TFS will confirm the compression in the tank.

    4. Wear/Fading of Labels– Labels are vital when fighting a fire because they contain instructions on how to use the extinguisher. They also provide important information about the device’s maintenance history, which is needed by inspection professionals. Once your fire extinguisher inspection is complete, the labels will be updated, and an additional certification tag will be attached.

    5. Recharging Needed– Once a fire extinguisher is used, even partially, it will need to be recharged immediately. If you fail to recharge the extinguisher, it will fail you in a fire.

    Although these are common reasons companies fail fire extinguisher inspections, there are other possible hazards not listed. It is important to stay up-to-date with your fire extinguisher inspections. The NFPA requires inspection every month and maintenance every year by a professional. In addition, a stored pressure extinguisher requires internal maintenance every six years and a hydrostatic test every 12 years.

    It takes a minute for a fire to spread and cause irreparable damage to your company—the same amount of time it takes to schedule a fire extinguisher inspection!

    Total Fire and Safety can inspect your fire extinguishers to ensure they are unfailingly ready to fight fire at a moment’s notice. We also provide onsite training for your employees, including hands-on practice in the use of a fire extinguisher. Give us a call today at 630.960.5060.


  6. 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!


  7. 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.


  8. 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.


  9. 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.

     


  10. 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.