Protecting your most important assets shouldn't be difficult. You want to make sure you find the right fire protection company to do the job. In our recent blog, we shared five questions you should ask a fire protection company. Just as important is the questions they should be asking you. A preferred fire protection company won't just listen to you, they'll ask questions that show their investment in you, your assets, and your staff.
A fire protection company worth their salt will ask you questions related to your current and previous fire protection program and systems so they can develop a detailed account of where you currently are and what the future looks like for your fire protection and life safety needs.
A reputable and preferred fire protection company will know what questions to ask and will always be one step ahead. To provide the best service, your fire protection and life safety company should be asking you the following questions.
1. What life safety systems do you have onsite? Do you have special environments - such as an IT room - that require specific life safety systems?
You probably asked a similar question when you were searching for a fire protection company – what life safety systems can you service? It's important to know this information from both sides. A preferred fire protection company encompasses all aspects of fire and life safety.
We’ve seen a lot of special environments with the wrong type of life safety systems – like IT rooms relying on water to protect them. The wrong type of life safety system can be more damaging than a fire. If a fire protection company isn’t asking about the specifics of your business, they won’t be able to provide the right guidance on which systems you should have – and any that need replaced. If you have something precious, you want to protect it properly.
2. When were your systems last inspected?
By asking this question, the fire protection company is given an idea of how the system has been maintained, if you’re compliant, and when the next inspection will occur.
It’s imperative for a fire protection company to know these answers so they can keep your fire and life safety systems in good working order. Asking this question shows the fire protection company is involved and invested in protecting your most important assets and keeping your business compliant. A missed inspection can cause more damage than an emergency if not handled correctly and timely.
This question also addresses the need to prepare a plan for future inspections and maintenance so that you never fall behind. This proactive management of your life safety systems goes beyond a more reactive, compliance driven approach.
3. Have you had any compliance issues in the past? What's the history of the property?
Most businesses deal with compliance issues at some point. A fire protection company asks this to understand any outstanding deficiencies that need to be addressed and ensure these issues don’t arise again. It brings awareness of violations such as occupant loads, hazardous materials storage, and industrial practices.
Compliance issues also can arise from unknown fire codes. A fire protection company is responsible for everything from understanding fire prevention codes and applying them consistently to educating their clients about them. Another part of why this question is so crucial is that your response enables them to conduct a safety audit to check for items that are unsafe such as blocked exits, extension cords, or other minor violations. These violations might sound trivial or easily corrected, but a cautious fire inspector might see these as the tip of the iceberg.
In addition to compliance history, the fire protection company may ask about the actual history of the property, which helps them evaluate any pre-planning data that may be available. This can assist with onsite logistics and planning.
A preferred fire protection company is invested in your company and assets and they won’t allow compliance issues to happen again.
4. What's your biggest challenge with fire protection and life safety?
You need a partner throughout this process. A preferred fire protection company wants to know what challenges you’ve faced or are currently facing so they can take the necessary steps with you to rectify the issues and provide value to you. These challenges could be anything from disparate and incomplete reporting to inconsistent service with past providers that led to a compliance issue.
Your business, assets, and the lives of your employees are at stake, and fire protection companies know that. This question shows that the fire protection company is focused on you and your unique needs, and that they are dedicated to providing you with the best service possible. Whatever the challenge is, a preferred fire protection company will be able to ask what they can do for you and provide the best service possible to remedy your challenges.
5. Have your employees been properly trained on using fire extinguishers?
Part of being your partner in fire protection is taking responsibility to ask this question and then educate, train, and mentor your staff on correct use of fire protection equipment, including fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems. By housing a portable fire extinguisher for employee-use, OHSA 1910.157 (g)(1) requires the business owner to provide an educational program to employees that introduces general principles and hazards involved with extinguisher use. Annual training, thereafter, is required (OSHA 1910.157 (g)(2)).
This is a critical question that should always be asked. Without this question, the fire protection company may be stepping into a situation where there is inefficient or zero training, which could lead to more fire damage throughout the building, or even loss of life. A preferred fire protection company will make sure you not only have the right life safety systems, but also have the proper training to use them in the case of an emergency.
Finding the right fire protection company goes a long way. By asking and assessing the above questions, a preferred fire protection company will stay aware of various fire hazards and life safety issues—and the challenges that can be solved before they result in non-working equipment during an emergency or compliance issues. A company asking these questions shows they take a proactive approach to life safety and are invest in the protection and safety of your company, assets, and staff.
Don’t settle for less.