There are few disasters more devastating to a property manager than a mishap involving fire. Protect your tenants and your net operating income year-round with these tips on avoiding fire damaged property.
The diligence of smart property technology helps keep you protected from fire year-round. With smart smoke detection, for instance, property managers and tenants get real-time alerts when smoke is detected. These alerts even come right to your phone, meaning that if you are away from your home at the time, you can send for help. Finally, smart smoke detectors auto-calibrate to readjust to the most accurate detection settings.
Winter Fire Prevention Tips
When it comes to seasonal fire prevention and avoiding fire damaged property, people often focus on winter. As they should.
The fact is that roughly 10% of the 379,600 residential fires that have occurred in recent years involved a heating source.
Items that pose opportunities for mishaps include
- Fireplaces. A major culprit in these types of fires is a dirty chimney, which can cause chimney fires that damage homes and injure people. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, indications of a chimney fire include a loud cracking and popping noise, an intense hot smell, and a lot of dense smoke. By recognizing and acting on these indicators right away, property managers can avoid fire damaged property. Of course, there are some preventative steps that you and your tenants can take to hopefully avoid getting into this situation in the first place. You may even want to include them on a fire safety sheet for tenants. These include keeping the damper open (this device is a cast iron or steel plate on a spindle that is fitted inside the chimney’s flue system) and limiting the build-up of creosote by purchasing seasoned wood and allowing for plenty of air supply to the chimney (do not close the fireplace glass before it is done burning).
- Candles. This one is a lot less technical than dealing with the hazards posed by fireplaces as noted above. Make sure to put out indoor/ outdoor candles and keep their hot wax away from electrical areas.
- Electrical space heaters. While space heaters are a go-to item during any chilly winter, they also pose their own unique set of safety hazards. One of the most critical precautions is to avoid overloading the circuit. By using a power strip with surge protection and/ or not plugging the heating unit directly into the wall, you will be more likely to avoid fire damaged property. Other precautions to take include not placing heating units high up where they can fall, choosing units with automatic turn off, and keeping heaters away from flammable/ combustible items and children.
Spring Fire Prevention Tips
Springtime is associated with tidying up and it relates to fire safety in this way—you can use this season to clear out flammable materials that have accumulated throughout the year. These include
- Aerosol cans
- Oily rags
- Dryer lint
- Plastic containers
- Old hand sanitizer
- Shoe polish and more
In addition to this, springtime is also a great opportunity to inspect your fire extinguishers and related safety devices.
Summer Fire Prevention Tips
Summer is a close second to winter in terms of the raised potential for fire-damaged property. This is because summertime involves things like campfires, cookouts, and fireworks.
There are many things to consider with campfire safety. These include keeping a fire extinguisher and shovel nearby; while you already know what to do with the former, the latter can be used to bury an outdoor campfire in the dirt. This effort cuts off the oxygen source that allows it to burn. Other to do’s would be never leaving a fire unattended, making sure that it is out completely when you do leave, and building your campfire away from flammable materials like tree branches and dry grass.
What about cookouts? Many of the same rules as above apply here too. Additionally, we would recommend extra caution when barbecuing on a wooden deck/ terrace and avoiding the use of a grill or smoker that is designed for outdoor use for indoor cooking of any kind.
Amateur firework usage also poses a variety of safety hazards for property managers and tenants. For this reason, we advise against using fireworks in residential areas, period.
Fall Fire Prevention Tips
Fall may seem like less of a fire risk, but there are definite steps that you should take to guard against complacency. This includes performing maintenance tasks like inspecting your property’s central heating system/ and or performing chimney sweeps.
Central heating systems should be cleaned, inspected, and serviced by a certified HVAC (heating, venting, and air conditioning) contractor every year before winter use.
The same is true for chimney sweeping.
Staying Safe No Matter the Season
Having upgraded protection in the form of smart smoke detectors that are installed throughout your multifamily community gives you a long-term advantage over fire.
Consider upgrading yours today.
Originally published August 10, 2020