Commercial building owners in Florida are no strangers to hurricanes. Why? More than 41% of hurricanes that hit the United States make some kind of landfall in the sunshine state.
Due to the frequency and severity of these storms, building owners must take preventative measures such as facility maintenance to protect their property during hurricane season.
Let’s discuss this further.
How to Prepare Your Facility for a Hurricane
Hurricanes are characterized by:
- Strong, high-speed winds
- Torrential rains, and
- Storm surges
Experts classified almost a third of hurricanes to hit Florida as Category 3 with winds ranging from 111 to 128 mph. This considered, building owners should prepare their commercial property to withstand these intense elements.
So, how can you prepare your facility for a hurricane? Commercial building owners can take the following steps:
- Create a containment plan for any hazardous chemicals or on-site materials
- Develop an emergency response plan
- Invest in data backup servers and backup generators
- Create an evacuation plan with multiple routes
- Provide provisions for alternative communication systems
- Make safety equipment accessible
In addition, commercial building owners should prioritize the maintenance of fire safety systems in their facilities to properly protect people and property.
Why Facility Maintenance is Crucial in a Hurricane
In the event of an emergency, owners want to be sure the safety systems installed in their buildings work effectively. Why? These systems can make a difference in saving lives and property.
Saving Lives and Protecting Property
NFPA 1600 emphasizes the importance of assessing and addressing possible risks before a hurricane:
“5.4.1* The entity shall conduct a resource needs assessment based on the hazards identified in Section 5.2 and the business impact analysis in Section 5.3.
“A.5.4.1 Scenarios developed during the risk assessment and BIA should be used to identify resources needed by the program. Resources for emergency operations/response to protect life safety, stabilize the incident, and protect property should be identified.”
Additionally, NFPA 1600 discusses the necessity of automatic sprinkler systems. Since many natural catastrophes include a significant threat of fire, automatic sprinklers are essential.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests property owners have their automatic sprinkler systems inspected before hurricane season in case of such an emergency.
Many insurance carriers require proof that property owners took reasonable measures to prevent damage before covering a claim. Building owners should keep in mind this can include both fire and flood property damage.
What Systems Should be Inspected Before a Hurricane?
Building owners can employ the help of an experienced technician to ensure other systems are properly installed, serviced, and maintained.
For example, these systems may include:
- Fire alarm systems
- Fire sprinkler systems
- Backflow preventers
- Fire extinguishers
- Emergency and exit lighting
- Fire pumps
- Commercial kitchen fire suppression systems
- Clean agent fire suppression systems
- Access control
- Intrusion systems
- Fire hydrants
- Foam systems, and
- Elevator monitoring
How Often Should These Systems Be Inspected?
How often you service or inspect your fire protection services depends on the device.
Some systems require inspections on a weekly, monthly, semi-annual, or annual basis. However, all fire and life safety systems require at least an annual inspection.
Therefore, property owners do not need to wait before or during hurricane season to schedule an inspection for their safety systems. These systems should be checked year-round to ensure they will perform to the best of their ability at any time – hurricane season or not!
Ready to Have Your Systems Inspected? Consider LSM
LifeSafety Management has been providing fire protection and life safety services in South Florida for over 20 years—hence why, we’re your resident life safety experts.
LifeSafety is your single-source provider for any of your fire protection needs: Fire alarms, sprinklers, fire suppression systems, security systems, and beyond. We can start from the very beginning to design and install your systems, then maintain and repair your systems as needed.
Learn more about us and our solutions.