It is the job of local fire departments not just to put out fires, but to provide safety rules and regulations known as fire codes. This involves everything from having fire extinguishers and proper smoke detectors, to providing proper electrical safety in your business.
It is essential that you not avoid these regulations as it puts your business at risk. While there are a number of different fire code violations, the underlying reason is the same: to ensure safety.
Your business will most likely go through fire inspections to be sure everything is up to code. These inspections may be conducted by your local fire department.
What is included in the fire inspection may vary based on where you are. For example, in North Carolina, the department may check for electrical safety, emergency preparedness, general fire precautions, entrance and exit fire codes, flammable liquid safety, and storage of hazardous materials.
Common Fire Code Violations
There are some fire code violations that are common among businesses, no matter where in the U.S. you live or operate your business. Here are the most common fire code violations to be aware of:
Exits. The exits of your business have several opportunities for fire code violations, include the exit signs failing to show the safest path is, the exit doors incapable of being opened from the inside without a key, and the aisles outside the exit being too small.
- The electrical work in your building might also be the cause of a violation. This could include issues such as having electrical cords going through walls, ceilings or floors, and extension cords for permanent installation.
Fire extinguishers. If you do not have your fire extinguisher mounted at the proper height, lack water supply for an automatic sprinkler system, or have a fire extinguisher not serviced at least once a year, you can get a fire code violation.
- How you treat combustibles could lead to a fire code violation as well. Violations may be issued for storing combustibles in a room below the stairs, not maintaining the combustibles storage room, or keeping them too close to dumpsters with open covers.
Flammable liquids. Hazardous materials and flammable liquids are also sometimes associated with fire dangers, including storing them in the wrong containers or location, or having illegal materials stored on your business property.
Location-Specific Fire Code Violations
Depending on where you are in the United States, you might have certain fire code violations that tend to be more common in your area than others. For example, in Cincinnati, Ohio, frequent violations occur for having painted sprinkler heads, not having proper emergency exit signs and lighting, and failing to put fire extinguishers in the right location. In Washington State, common fire code violations include improper use of extension cords and not using fire doors properly.
The best way to avoid fire code violations is knowing proper safety precautions and keeping up with recent changes with your local fire department. You should also protect your business with adequate general liability and business property insurance.