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  1. Fire Safety for Senior Citizens

    May 20, 2019 by Total Fire and Safety

    (Photo credit: Dreamstime ID 95654936 © Wavebreakmedia Ltd | Dreamstime.com)

    With the rise in popularity and construction of senior living centers, fire safety continues to be a concern to keep our grandparents, parents, and aging loved ones protected. According to the United States Fire Administration, in 2015, older adults represented 15 percent of the U.S. population and suffered 40 percent of all fire related deaths.  They are also 2.7 times greater risk of dying in a fire than the total population.  Those 85 and older were 3.8 times more likely to die in a fire than the total population.

    The elderly in multi-level dwellings are at higher risk of dying in a fire for several reasons.  They may be on medication that impairs them from taking stairs down to safety, or their mobility issues may prevent them from moving quickly enough. They may live alone or have no one to call for assistance. Educating property managers, caretakers, and the elderly on fire safety for senior citizens is one step we can take in protecting this aging generation.  Below are some considerations for property managers and their tenants.

     1. Test Smoke Alarms

    Smoke is a silent killer.  Senior citizens with hearing problems who sleep without a hearing aid could be killed in their sleep.  Having a working smoke alarm in every room and hallway helps, but they should be effective for the user. Strobe alarms are best, and seniors can install alarms that shake their bed to rouse them in the event of a fire. Most importantly of all, make sure to test smoke alarms every month so they are always in compliance.

    2.  Sit Your Butt Down…in the proper place!

    Smoking is the number one cause of fire deaths in the country. Remind senior citizens never to smoke in bed and especially not near flammable oxygen tanks. Seniors can use deeper or heavier ashtrays to avoid ashes flipping or falling onto the rug and starting a fire. The best way to put butts out is with sand and water.

    3. Create a Fire Escape Plan

    Seniors may have less than three minutes to escape danger in the event of a fire. They should have a fire escape plan and practice it, knowing all the accessible exits. For seniors suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s who have escape proof doors, it is important they have a prearranged escort in the event of a fire.

    4. Stay in the Kitchen

    Seniors should always stay in the kitchen when cooking.  Most kitchen fires begin because food is left unattended, so if they must leave the kitchen while cooking they should turn the burner off. Even a short absence from the kitchen can unexpectedly turn into an extended amount of time away.  If seniors must leave the kitchen, they should take a cooking utensil or potholder with them to serve a helpful reminder. Also, remind seniors to never cook with loose or dangling sleeves that can easily ignite and burn a senior, or potentially start a major fire.

    5. Daily Necessities

    Seniors should think about what they use to get around every day, like glasses, a wheelchair, a cane, etc. These items should be placed next to the bed for easy access in case of fire. A phone and a whistle should also be at bedside. The whistle lets people know where you are and enables you to warn others of the fire. Escape is always the priority; call the fire department later. If trapped, use the phone to call for help. Seniors with wheelchairs or walkers should check exit routes ahead of time to be sure they are accessible or plan an alternate route.  Inform building managers or neighbors of the plan.  If your impairment makes it impossible to escape in the event of a fire, discuss your concern with landlord, or check with the fire department.

    6. Don’t Overload Outlets or Extension Cords

    Inspect your extension cords regularly for fraying, exposed wire, or loose plugs.  Unplug extension cords when not in use.  If you need to plug in multiple appliances, use an extension cord approved by the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL), a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

    As their population begins to grow, fire safety for senior citizens cannot be stressed enough. Property managers, caretakers, the elderly, and their families should all be aware of the increased risk to the age group and try to protect them. The professionals at Total Fire and Safety are ready to help ensure your building has fire equipment that is  working properly.  We provide the life safety features that keep fire safety for your residents, including senior citizens, a main priority.   Give us a call today! 630-960-5060

     


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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!


  5. 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

     

     


  6. 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.

     


  7. Five Questions to Ask to Assess Your First Aid Requirement for Workplace

    April 19, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    We cannot overstate the importance of first aid requirement for the workplace. If you read through the OSHA requirements for first aid kits and first aid training, and the ANSI minimum first aid equipment for businesses, you may notice that a lot of the details are left up to the business owner. That is because every business is different, and will have different risks depending on the equipment involved in the business. A simple office space might have a small, basic first aid kit, while a car mechanic would probably need a much more complex one. Here are five steps to help guide you through the process of determining what first aid kit and training your business and your employees need.

     

    1. What are the most common injuries in your industry? Think about the equipment involved with your industry, and what kind of accidents can happen with that equipment. Make sure you satisfy the first aid requirement for workplace accidents to handle the most probable injuries within your specific business.

     

    3. How close are you to the nearest hospital or medical center? In the event of an emergency, how long would it be until help arrived? If your business is in a remote location, you might need extra first aid materials to handle an emergency for a longer length of time.

     

    4. How many employees do you have? Make sure there are enough first aid kits to handle an emergency where multiple people are injured. The more employees you have, the more first aid kits you should have.

     

    5. Consider the layout of your workplace. Make first aid kits easy to get to, and easy to see. They must be clearly labeled, and all employees should know where they are. Also make sure that the first aid kits are accessible in the areas which are most prone to accidents, such as the kitchen in a restaurant.

     

    There are a lot of options for both first aid kits and training. Make sure to think about restocking first aid kits and offering training to new employees. First aid requirements for workplace accidents can include portable kits or wall mounted kits, designed for indoor or outdoor use. For first aid training programs, make sure you go with a quality program that will teach your employees how to handle emergencies that are most likely to occur in your workplace. Cover the basics, and go beyond, to keep your employees healthy and safe.

     

    If you have questions or concerns about first aid kit or training compliance, Total Fire and Safety is you one-stop source for all fire safety and first aid needs. Feel free to contact us at 630-960-5060.

     


  8. What You Need to Know About the OSHA 300A Form

    February 28, 2017 by Total Fire and Safety

    If you are a business subject to OSHA regulations, now is the time of year that businesses are required to post a yearly report of workplace-related injuries and illnesses. The summary must be posted in a common area where all employees can see it. Doing this keeps your employees aware of dangers in the workplace. As an employer, make sure you know how to keep records and to post the yearly summaries. Safety is important, and so is following regulations! All the forms can be found here, but a summary of what you need to know is below.

    The 300A form is known as the Injury and Illness Recordkeeping Forms. Form 300A summarizes job-related injuries and illnesses, which should be logged on the OSHA 300 Log. After a year of logging illnesses and injuries, employers should post the form 300A summary for all employees to see.

    Who needs to fill it out? Most employers who have ten or more employees will have to fill out the form. If your establishment has a chance of any sort of workplace injury or illness, you likely need to fill out the form. OSHA has also updated its list of newly included establishments that will need to keep records. To check to see if your industry is on the list, click here.

    Who is exempt from the requirement? If you have fewer than ten employees, you do not have to fulfill this OSHA requirement. Certain workplaces that are deemed low-hazard are also exempt, like shoe stores, book stores, florists, and publishers. You can find a full list of low-hazard workplaces here.

    When is the deadline for reporting? Notices must be posted each year between February 1 and April 30, so now is the time!

    OSHA Form 300A

    At Total Fire and Safety, we are dedicated to helping your business meet all safety requirements and helping you prevent workplace related injuries and illnesses. In addition to commercial fire safety, we offer onsite first aid kits and employee safety training. If you have questions or concerns about OSHA requirements or any other question related to workplace safety, feel free to contact Total Fire & Safety  at 630-960-5060.


  9. 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!


  10. Total Fire & Safety at the #NationalRestaurantAssociation Show!

    May 23, 2016 by Total Fire and Safety

    We are live at the National Restaurant Association (#nra) at

    McCormick Place  here in Chicago!

    The event opened May 21 and closes tomorrow so there is still time to come down and see us. The association is expecting  42,000+ foodservice buyers with big budgets and an appetite to buy. Total Fire & Safety has a booth here to network with more businesses and get the word out about our services, especially for restaurants. With the growing need for suppression systems, service to food-serving businesses like restaurants are an expanding part of our business. Come visit us in booth #8900-9000 at this convention, and pick up some samples along the way!

    (From left to right: Jason Schroeder, V.P. of Business Development and Marc Spinder, Outside Sales Representative are at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago.)

     

     

    For more information,

      contact Total Fire & Safety

      at 630-960-5060.