By Lorraine Carli
As the federal government and many states begin allowing businesses to reopen, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed a checklist to help building owners and facility managers prepare, ensuring that fire protection and life safety systems in commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings are properly checked and functioning.
“During the lockdown policies in place over the past couple of months, many of the ongoing inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) activities typically required by locally enforced codes and standards may not have been completed for a variety of reasons,” said Val Ziavras, technical services engineer at NFPA. “Regardless of the level of ITM performed during this time, it is imperative that building owners and facility managers verify the performance of all building fire protection and life safety systems prior to reoccupation.”
The new NFPA resource addresses the factors that should be confirmed by a qualified person before re-opening a building to ensure the safety of all its occupants. Based on the assumption that the building was in compliance prior to being closed, the checklist provides some initial steps to help make sure the occupancy is safe enough to reopen until a qualified professional can complete the regularly scheduled ITM of all fire protection and life safety systems. Ziavras notes that this process should be completed as quickly as possible.
“Any alterations to the building that adhere to public health guidelines, such as the installation of physical barriers or automatic door openers, will need to be evaluated to ensure that they are properly designed and installed and do not negatively impact the fire protection and life safety systems currently in place,” said Ziavras.
The newly available checklist reflects the latest in a series of COVID-19 related resource developed by NFPA to address fire and life safety issues, concerns, and challenges that have emerged over the past couple of months. Additional resources are developed as they are added to the NFPA website.
Visit the NFPA coronavirus landing page to access all newly released documents, as well as existing COVID-19 related information, guidelines, and resources provided to date.
Lorraine Carli is in the Public Affairs Office at the NFPA.