Here are 10 fire prevention tips for landlords and property managers including remembering to have a fire-action plan for tenants.
By Oliver Andrews
Thirty seconds is all it takes for a small flame to start a blaze if there are no fire-prevention measures in place. Within minutes, a property can fill with choking black smoke, and temperatures can reach as high as 600° F.
Annually, more than 50,000 of these fires are due to electrical faults and cause damages of over $1.3 billion. What’s worse is that property-claim consultants believe that most of these fires are preventable with proper maintenance.
The same is true for most fires in rental properties. If landlords and tenants practice due diligence, the tragedy and inconvenience of a fire can be prevented.
In this article, we’ll discuss practical fire-prevention tips that enable landlords to safeguard their investment. By the end of the article, you’ll be able to draft a comprehensive fire-prevention and protection plan.
What Are the Main Causes of Fires within the Home?
According to loss assessors, the following are the most common culprits for fires in the home:
Many household fires happen while cooking. As a landlord, you can encourage tenants to implement the following habits to reduce the chance of a fire.
For example, you can instruct tenants to switch the stove or oven off at the plug when they’ve finished cooking. This will ensure that if something is left on the stove, it won’t burst into flame. Frying food is another activity with which everyone needs to use caution, as it’s easy for grease to spill over the side of the pan and catch fire.
Furnaces, clogged chimneys, heaters, and fireplaces are all common sources of home fires. Regular maintenance is the best way to prevent these fires. Clean out the chimney and ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for heaters and other appliances, or call a qualified contractor.
Many people love to set the mood with a candle, but candles can also pose a severe fire hazard. Remind your tenants not to leave candles unattended, or consider having a no-candle policy.
Young children don’t understand the potential for danger. They can cause or contribute to fires related to kitchen or electrical mishaps. Caution tenants not to leave children unattended or let them cook unsupervised.
Grilling is a fun pastime, but it also has a great potential for danger. Many tenants have gotten themselves into trouble by grilling too close to the home or using accelerants. If your property has grills or patios, be sure to inform tenants of safety tips for grilling.
What Are the Top 10 Fire Prevention Tips?
1. Install Smoke Alarms in Every Room and Test Them Regularly
An early warning system is one of the most critical fire-prevention measures. Make sure to replace the batteries every six months, or instruct tenants to do so. You should replace all the fire alarms at least once every 10 years.
2. Explain the House Rules
Create a comprehensive set of home fire-safety rules for your tenants. Make it a condition of the lease that they abide by these regulations. Finally, explain the rules both verbally and in writing, and have the tenant sign that he or she understands.
Your fire-safety rules should also include a clearly defined smoking policy.
3. Establish Grilling Rules
Grills should be at least 10 feet from the home or overhanging structures at all times. General fire-safety rules also suggest that the grill should never be left unattended.
4. Conduct Regular Fire-Safety Checks
This is a good chance to check that smoke alarms are working correctly and that potential emergency exits (such as windows) are accessible. You can also review the house rules with tenants.
5. Create a Fire Action Plan
If you run a multifamily property, it’s essential to teach your tenants how to escape from a fire. Create a plan that allows them to leave through the nearest exit as quickly as possible.
Discuss the plan with the tenants and practice the evacuation regularly. Finally, post a copy of the plan in every unit. Place your contact information and that of emergency services on this paper as well.
6. Encourage Tenants to Speak Up
Some people don’t like to rock the boat. If they see something wrong, but it doesn’t affect them, they won’t report it. This is counterproductive when it comes to fire prevention. Make it clear to your tenants that you appreciate their assistance in identifying potential issues.
7. Place a Fire Extinguisher in Each Kitchen
A well-placed fire extinguisher could be the difference between smoke damage and a five-alarm fire.
8. Install Sprinklers
Sprinklers linked to the fire alarm provide a valuable preventative tool against fire damage.
9. Document Everything
The consequences of a fire top the list when it comes to extensive damage. Protect yourself by documenting each of the fire precautions you put in place.
10. Keep Up-to-Date with Repairs
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to keep your tenants as safe as possible. A good fire-prevention strategy incorporates regular building maintenance and timely repairs.
What Tenants Can Do to Prevent Fires
Tenants also have a responsibility in fire prevention. They must adhere to the building’s fire-protection policy at all times.
Landlords should communicate the rules regarding the kitchen, laundry, and general electrical use. Don’t assume your tenants already know! For example, be sure to mention not overloading outlets or leaving appliances running when you’re not at home.
Fire-Safety Regulations for Landlords
Fire-safety regulations vary among different jurisdictions. In general, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the building meets the applicable building codes and ensure that fire-escape routes are available.
Also, the landlord has an obligation to:
- Repair structural elements
- Respond to repair requests promptly
- Conduct regular fire and safety checks
- Ensure that all entries and exits are clear of debris
- Devise a fire-prevention and evacuation strategy
What are the four types of fire?
Effective fire awareness starts with knowing what to do in a fire. A grease fire on a stovetop, for example, requires a different approach than an electrical fire.
There are four types of fire extinguishers, and each deals with a specific blaze:
- Paper and wood
- Oil, grease, and gasoline
- Flammable metals
Effective fire prevention requires a commitment from both the landlord and the tenant. Both parties should work together to prevent a devastating fire. When everyone pitches in, it becomes simpler to detect potential risks before they burst into flame.
About the author:
Oliver Andrews is the editor for Property Claim Assist