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  1. Find Your Career in Illinois Commercial Fire Safety

    July 23, 2019 by Total Fire and Safety

     

    When people think of careers in fire safety in Illinois, they usually think of firefighters. But what about the folks who prevent the fires in the first place? These dedicated professionals work in the area of commercial fire safety. They help commercial buildings and residential dwellings stay up to code with the fire safety equipment, and thus, can save lives indirectly by keeping people safe and prepared for fire emergencies.

    Providing fire safety to any business, at any level, starts with teamwork. If one aspect of fire safety fails (sprinkler, extinguisher, or alarm), it can make the difference between life and death. All the fire safety components work within a life safety ecosystem, which includes government code compliance, a skilled workforce, and an investment in safety equipment, installation, and training. As part of a commercial fire safety team such as Total Fire and Safety, you are part of a life-saving mission. We provide customers their first offense in putting out a fire on their premises.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and their Occupational Outlook Handbook, the projected employment change for security and fire alarm system installers is expected to grow 14 percent, which is faster than the average career. They are expecting growth of 10,400 new jobs between 2016-2020. Currently, Illinois, the home state of Total Fire & Safety, is among the states in the nation that employs the most installers in this field. (see chart below).

    Chart reprinted from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2018, 49-2098 Security and Fire Alarm Systems Installers

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Many of the careers in fire safety require a high school diploma or equivalent but mainly, on-the-job training. At Total Fire & Safety, we have a vigorous employee training program that prepares our people for many of the jobs that are so needed in the industry, such as customer service, sales representatives, dispatchers, fire alarm service technicians, fire extinguisher technicians, fire sprinkler service technicians, etc. We even have an on-site training facility (pictured below) where we regularly host classes and training modules for TFS employees.

    You’ve heard the phrase teamwork makes the dream work, right? At Total Fire and Safety we are always looking for dedicated professionals to join our commercial fire safety team, which has that has provided fire safety for over 30 years. If you are looking for employment or are ready for a career change, join Total Fire and Safety and see how working as a team can save lives.

    To learn more about the opportunities available and experience needed at Total Fire and Safety, visit our employment page  or search us on Indeed.

     


  2. In the Aftermath: Finding the Causes of Fires in Chicago

    June 19, 2019 by Total Fire and Safety

    According to legend, the cause of the greatest fire in Chicago was a cow kicking over a lantern in a barn. In 1871, the entire city of Chicago was engulfed in flames. The fire lasted two days, left 300 people dead and over $200 million in damage.  The event changed Chicago.  Stricter fire codes were implemented, structures were built with different materials, and fire departments were equipped with better equipment and advanced training methods.

    Today, fires in Chicago rarely go unexplained due to investigative divisions within the fire departments.  The investigative teams are well trained in how to identify common causes of fires in Chicago. The most common causes of fires in Chicago vary by type.

    Common Causes of Residential Fires

    • Overusing extension cords
    • Overusing Christmas lights/stringing them together under furniture
    • Smoking materials (cigarettes, cigars, etc.…)
    • Heating or electrical malfunction
    • Cooking or kitchen fires

    Common Causes of Industrial Fires

    • Combustible dust
    • Hot work
    • Flammable gas or liquid
    • Equipment and machinery fires
    • Electrical hazard fires

    How Fires are Investigated

    Whether it is a residential fire or industrial fire, criminal or accidental, fires in Chicago and around the country all have a determining factor.  The responsibility for finding the determining factor is up to the fire department.  From a public standpoint, finding a cause seems impossible.  How do they do it?

    Upon arriving at the scene, firefighters note the color of the flames, the amount of smoke, the rate at which the fire spreads, and the sound it makes.  These are all clues as to what is burning and how it is burning.  It is incumbent of the firefighters to protect the evidence at the scene by:

    • Limiting excessive fire suppression
    • Preventing needless destruction to a property
    • Using markers or cones to identify evidence
    • Writing notes or making voice recordings of observations
    • Covering areas that contain evidence
    • Preserve delicate evidence like shoe or tire tracks

    Once the fire is extinguished, the fire investigators dig through the ashes.  They take photographs prior to and during the investigation for documentation.  The objective of investigators is to locate the point of origin.  This is achieved through the char patterns, direction of melt, and heat shadows.  The burn patterns are often “V” shaped like an inverted cone.  The fire burns upward, in a V-shaped pattern away from point of origin.   The location is usually the most damaged by the fire.  Although most of the determination of origin is science-based, there is a little bit of guessing and witness accounts.  Fires in Chicago are likely to have one of four reasons:

    • Electrical issues
    • Natural acts
    • Open flames
    • Human action

    Fires in Chicago have decreased over the years with an average of eight fire per day.  Fortunately, fatal fires are rare, but even one is too many.  It’s important for residents and businesses to practice fire safety.  Is your business well equipped against fires?  Total Fire and Safety can help safeguard your building and those occupying it with fire alarms, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, emergency lights and more. We’ll inspect your property to ensure it is up to code and even provide training classes for employees so they know how to use the equipment in an emergency. Give TFS a call today at 630-960-5060.


  3. The Best Way to Prevent Industrial Fires

    April 24, 2019 by Total Fire and Safety

     

    According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), between 2011 and 2015, there was an estimated 37,910 fires at industrial properties each year.  These industrial fires resulted in 16 civilian deaths, 273 civilian injuries, and $1.2 billion in property damage.

    Industrial fires are serious, but there are several things you can do at your plant or factory to minimize the possibility of an industrial fire. First, it’s important to know how they usually start.

    The five most common causes of industrial fires are…

    1. Combustible Dust Fires

    A combustible dust is any dust or fine material that has the potential to catch fire and explode when it is mixed in the air.  Many times, materials that are normally considered non-flammable can act as a combustible when fine particles are mixed with air in a particular concentration.  Combustible dust happens in two waves.   A primary explosion causes particles to become airborne, and then the dust cloud can ignite and cause a secondary explosion, much more severe than the first. Combustible dust can bring down entire facilities.

    How do I Prevent Combustible Dust Fires?

    • Implement a hazardous dust inspection, testing, housekeeping, and control program.
    • Regularly inspect for dust residues in open and hidden areas.
    • Use proper dust collection systems.
    • If ignition sources are present, use cleaning methods that do not generate dust clouds.
    • Control smoking, open flames, and sparks (mechanical and friction).

    2. Hot Work Fires

    Hot work is any activity that involves open flames or generates sparks or heat.  This includes welding, heat treating, grinding, thawing pipes, torch cutting, brazing, soldering, etc.  Hot work becomes a fire hazard when sparks and molten material travel…often as far as 35 feet, sometimes igniting combustible dust in other areas.

    How do I Prevent Hot Work Fires?

    • Train personnel on the hazards associated with hot work and make sure they are using proper safety equipment.
    • Clear area of flammable materials including dust, gases, and liquids.
    • Make sure a safety professional is on site to provide supervision of the work.
    • Avoid hot work if possible.

     

    3. Flammable Liquid and Gas Fires

    These are most common in chemical plants.  Flammable liquids and gases can ignite off sparks from the previous hazards or add fuel to an already burning fire.

     How Do I Prevent A Flammable Gas Fire?

    • Know the hazards of each flammable liquid and gas on-site. Read and follow the safety information for storage and follow the material safety data sheet included with the product.
    • Properly store hazardous materials according to OSHA.
    • Keep ignition sources away from flammable gases and liquids.
    • Provide personal protective equipment, like gloves, bodysuits, vests, goggles, shoes etc.

    4. Equipment and Machinery Fires

    Equipment not properly installed, maintained, or operated correctly is a major cause of industrial fires. This is especially true for equipment associated with hot work and heating.  Even machinery not seen as a fire hazard can become a risk with lack of proper maintenance.

     How Do I Prevent Equipment and Machinery Fires?

    • Training can help employers and employees identify possible risks and what to do if they find one.
    • Keep the machines, equipment, and areas surrounding them, clean.
    • Prevent machine overheating by following the manufacturer’s guidelines for recommended maintenance procedures.

    5. Electrical Hazard Fires

    Electrical fires are most common in manufacturing plants and include wiring that is exposed or not up to code, overloaded outlets, extension cords, overloaded circuits, static discharge, etc. A spark from electrical hazards can cause ignition of combustible dust and flammable liquids and gases.

     How Do I Prevent Electrical Hazard Fires?

    • Don’t overload electrical equipment or circuits.
    • Unplug temporary equipment not in use.
    • Avoid using extension cords.
    • Use antistatic equipment as advised by OSHA and NFPA.
    • Follow a regular cleaning schedule to ensure combustible dust and other hazardous materials are removed from areas that house equipment and machinery.

     

    It can seem overwhelming to have to safeguard your facility against industrial fire hazards, but the pros at Total Fire and Safety can help you identify and prevent risks throughout your facility. They also provide fire safety training to educate employees on proper fire safety equipment operation and life safety procedures.

    To take the first step in keeping industrial fires at bay at your facility, call Total Fire and Safety at 630-960-5060 or reach us at our 24/7 emergency line, 630-546-8909.

     


  4. Will your fire sprinkler system work when the heat is on?

    March 22, 2019 by Total Fire and Safety

    In a commercial building, a fire sprinkler system is one of the most effective ways to control and extinguish fires.  A well maintained fire sprinkler system can mean the difference between minor damage and total destruction.

    A fire sprinkler system is a group of pipes and sprinkler heads located on ceilings or overhead.  They slow the spread of fire or extinguish fire by releasing a spray of water.  They are designed to cover as much area as possible to provide widespread coverage.

    Most fire sprinklers are heat activated.  When heat is detected, water is released and the fire alarm will likely be activated. Obviously, we need fire sprinklers to be as reliable as possible. So when and why do they fail?

     The NFPA reports that there are an average of 660 reported sprinkler failures a year.  However, with a proper working fire sprinkler 96% of the time they are effective in controlling most fires.  The most common causes of sprinkler failures are:

    • System shut-off
    • Manual intervention
    • Damaged components of fire sprinklers
    • Lack of maintenance
    • Inappropriate design of the fire sprinkler systems

    Fortunately, most of these problems can be alleviated with proper, regular inspection of your fire sprinkler system  by a trained professional.  The NFPA suggests different intervals per year in order to ensure effectiveness.

    Monthly inspection should ensure that

    • Valves are accessible, labeled properly and are not leaking
    • Wet gauges should be in good condition with proper water pressure detected
    • Dry gauges should have normal water pressure with the quick opening device showing the same pressure as the dry pipe valve

    Quarterly inspection should:

    • Check for physical damage to the supervisory alarm and water flow alarm
    • Dry test the system to check for valve issues
    • Check that all fire department connections are accessible
    • Check for leaks around the fire department connections
    • Inspect pressure reducing valves (free of leaks, open position, maintaining downstream pressure)

    Annual inspection should include all of the above, plus professional inspection by a certified professional for code compliance and tagging.

    Well-maintained fire sprinkler systems are paramount to your building safety and occupants.  The professional at Total Fire and Safety is dedicated to keeping you safe and in code compliance.  Give us a call today to schedule an inspection at 630-960-5060.

     


  5. 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.


  6. 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.


  7. 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!


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

    March 15, 2018 by Total Fire and Safety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  9. 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

     


  10. 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.