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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. 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.


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

    March 28, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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

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

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

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

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

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


  5. 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!


  6. 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.

     


  7. 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!

     


  8. Fire Extinguishers as a Self-Defense Tool?

    July 11, 2016 by Total Fire and Safety

    In light of the horrific recent events of random shootings in public places, most people can’t help but wonder about their own self-defense and how they would handle such a situation unarmed. Just imagine if you could protect yourself from a public shooting with a non-lethal weapon just hanging on the wall, possibly within arm’s reach.

    You can, with a fire extinguisher.

    Most people wouldn’t think of using a fire extinguisher  for self-defense, but actually, dry chemical fire extinguishers make good non-lethal weapons. What happens if you shoot a fire extinguisher at an attacker? It can slow, stop or incapacitate them depending on how close you are to the target, because the dry powder fire extinguishers shoot their streams at high speeds. The stream travels for 12 to 20 feet, and covers an area considerably larger than that of pepper spray. The chemical stream can get into the attacker’s nose, mouth, and eyes.  The attacker will try to clean their face and this diversion could buy enough time to disarm them and save lives.

    Random shooters are often unprepared for a person to fight back, and the range of the fire extinguisher can create a cloud to obscure the area and diffuse the situation. Fire extinguishers are always around, in a convenient location, ready to use. They are easy to operate, and easy to find in public places where other weapons are not available or are banned (like in the case of schools).  It’s a good idea to get familiar with fire extinguishers.

    To be clear, we are not advocating using fire extinguishers as a weapon outside of a life threatening situation.  It is also definitely best to have fire safety training and experience before having to use them in self-defense. However, in a life-threatening emergency, where a weapon is needed, fire extinguishers can help. To use a fire extinguisher, remember PASS:

    Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.

    Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.

    Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.  

    –Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

    Until we have seen the end of random violence in our country, it is important to know your options in an emergency situation. Having more fire extinguishers around can help keep you safe from more than just fires!

    For more information about how you can make fire extinguishers more accessible in your home or workplace or for fire extinguisher training for emergency situations, contact Total Fire & Safety at 630-960-5060.


  9. Fire News: An Exploding Fire (Extinguisher?) Ball?

    June 9, 2016 by Total Fire and Safety

    www.elidefire.com

    Elide Fire has a zany idea that might change the way that we fight fires in the future. These ball-shape extinguishers are like hand-held bombs that disperse the same chemicals that are found in normal fire extinguishers. To activate, you simply toss one toward the fire, and these little firefighters take care of everything. They are designed to activate within three seconds of being in contact with fire. They also work as alarms, emitting a loud sound when activated.

    You may be thinking, could these really work to replace fire extinguishers as we know them? Although having red balls filled with chemicals sitting in your kitchen or near electrical plugs may clash with your color scheme, they would be able to activate even when you’re not at home. This feature could potentially save lives as well as property damage (as long as they never accidentally activate without fire, though. That would be a mess!).

    The best part about this invention, however, is that it would be extremely easy to operate compared to a normal extinguisher. Using these extinguisher balls would be as simple as, well, tossing a ball. Even a child could do it (in a desperate situation, of course). Who knows, perhaps the fire training industry will soon have to create a simplified program that will more closely resemble pitching practice than fire safety training.

    The Extinguisher Ball has a lifespan of five years, and is meant to be mounted or displayed in fire-prone places. Total Fire and Safety is keeping an eye on this new product for further developments, but in the meantime, those basic red fire extinguishers hanging on your wall are your best bet in the event of an actual fire.  For more information on fire extinguishers and wireless fire alarms currently available, contact Total Fire & Safety at 630-960-5060.


  10. Five Important Questions to Get Your Money’s Worth from Fire Safety Training

    April 13, 2016 by Total Fire and Safety

    If your business has more than ten employees, they are going to need annual fire safety training. Some businesses rush to the least expensive program that will satisfy OSHA requirements, assuming that all training is the same; however, that’s simply not true. Fire safety training can vary in quality based on a number of factors, and many come with “hidden” fees that you may not be aware of. So what should you look for?  Here are some important questions to ask before you book the training company.

    1. What kind of course would you recommend? The course you need for your company should address the most probable emergencies that can occur at your facility. A training company worth its salt will tailor the course to your needs, surveying your business ahead of time to determine the most important content needed for your employees.

    2. Who is teaching the course? Make sure the instructors are experienced professionals who know what real emergencies are like and how they occur. It’s even better if the instructor has experience with real-life emergencies. Nothing compares to the knowledge of a first responder who has faced countless fires and hazardous events. They can share personal stories, anecdotes and examples related to the training, which can make the class more interesting.

    3. What will the course cover?  Basic training courses cover how to use the fire extinguisher, but the most important thing employees should learn is WHEN to use the fire extinguisher. A good training course will focus on the importance of making fast and accurate, life-or-death decisions. Not only should your employees know how to fight fires, but also WHEN to fight the fire, and most importantly, when not to fight the fire. Evacuating and leaving it to the professionals is sometimes the best decision an employee can make.

    4. Where will the training take place?  Many fire safety trainings are performed outdoors, with a live burn in a pan that employees practice extinguishing. Although exciting, putting out a pan fire in a parking lot does not accurately simulate a realistic fire or emergency situation! Also, elements of the weather such as wind can affect the fire and unrealistically hamper the efforts of the employee trying to learn proper extinguishing techniques. It is much more effective to practice emergency procedures where they actually occur—inside the facility. With the help of digital technology, your employees can learn to extinguish the exact type of fire they would most likely face right at their worksite. This “on-the-spot” training also helps employees develop realistic evacuation plans and teach them to work as a team in an emergency situation.

    5. Will there be extra costs involved with the equipment or the course materials? If the trainer is using “live burns”, or actual fires to practice extinguishing, you will need to have a burn permit and may incur any associated costs with setting up an outdoor space needed for the demonstration. If the training company uses your fire equipment for a live burn session, you will have to recharge them. You may not have budgeted for this unexpected, volatile cost, and it will vary based on how many turns each participant receives to extinguish the fire. The fire safety courses offered by Total Fire & Safety use high-tech, virtual simulators to practice extinguishing fires, which are versatile and allow more practice for each participant. These simulators feature virtual fire on a screen that responds realistically to the participant’s motions with the fire extinguisher. The indoor training gives each person multiple attempts with a full extinguisher every time until they feel confident with their firefighting skill.  Compared to outdoor training, simulated training is more cost effective, accurate, completely green, and requires no messy clean-up or permit fees.

    So before booking a company to perform fire safety training for your employees, ask these questions to make sure you receive your money’s worth for your employees and your business. No one can predict how an emergency will unfold, but the right training company can make sure your employees are not only prepared to fight a fire, but are adept at making quick decisions about whether or not it is safe to do  so. For more information, contact the professionals at Total Fire & Safety at 630-960-5060.