In observance of Memorial Day, all Arbella offices will close at 5 pm on Friday and will reopen on Tuesday, May 31st. This includes Customer Service and the Drive-in Claim Centers. As always, if you need to report a new loss or have an emergency claim need, you may reach us by calling 1-800-ARBELLA (272-3552) or clicking here to file a claim.

Fire Extinguisher
Fire Extinguisher

Preventing Building Fires

Preventing Residential Building Fires: Tips for Building Owners and Their Tenants

A five-year report by the NFPA found that the US reports an average of 346,800 home structure fires per year. Fortunately, many of these fires can be prevented. Read below to learn about some ways building owners can prevent fires on their property.

For Building Owners:

An easy property modification or system test could prevent a fire in your building.

  • Inspections: The NFPA reports that electrical system malfunction is one of the leading causes of fire-related property damage. Partner with your local fire department or a third party electrician to have your electrical systems inspected often.
  • Sprinklers: Sprinklers save lives. Sprinkler systems should be tested and kept in proper working condition on a regular basis by a qualified contractor.
  • Smoking Safety: If you don’t have a no-smoking rule in your building policy, provide your tenants with proper receptacles to help them dispose of their smoking materials safely. Providing metal receptacles and proper signage can prevent tenants from extinguishing cigarettes in or near something flammable (like a plastic pot, dumpster, mulch, leaf pile, or wooden deck). Lay a few inches of stone, gravel, or lava rock between your building and your landscaping so fires that start in the mulch won’t spread to the building. Learn more about smoking fire safety here.
  • Fireplaces: Install grates on all fireplaces, and make sure the floor directly in front of the fireplace is made of tile or stone. Remember to have chimneys cleaned at least once a year by a qualified professional.
  • Fire Doors: Many people propped open their fire doors when the pandemic hit to minimize their number of high-touch surfaces. However, these doors are designed to keep fires from spreading and smoke from traveling through stairwells. If they’re open, they won’t be effective!
  • Extinguishers: Provide fire extinguishers for your tenants and have them serviced regularly by a qualified contractor. Consider storing them under kitchen sinks, in nearby closets, or in common areas, so your tenants can reach them quickly. Don’t forget the basement areas!
  • Smoke Detectors: Never skip your smoke detector testing! Most smoke detectors should be checked monthly, although states have varying laws regarding testing frequency. Call your local fire protection service or fire department for help with inspections and maintenance.

For Tenants:

Now that your property is prepared, you’ll want to encourage safety with your tenants. Set policies that prevent fires, such as:

  • No space heaters. Bonus tip: if you control your building’s temperature, keep the heat high enough that your tenants don’t want a space heater in the first place!
  • No improper usage of extension cords. All too often, electrical fires are caused by extension cords that improperly connected to one another, or by seasonal lights that are being used as extension cords.
  • No smoking on premises. Smoking is a leading cause of home structure fires, and the number one cause of home fire deaths.
  • Keep grills or other outdoor cooking equipment at least ten feet from any of the building’s structures, including balconies and decks. Learn more about grills and summer fire safety here.
  • No candles. The NFPA reports that an average of 20 home candle fires are reported every day.
  • Keep hallways and other passages clear of equipment, bicycles, shoes, and other debris. Firefighters and emergency personnel will have an easier time rescuing anyone in the building if pathways are kept clean. Your tenants will have an easier time escaping in an emergency, too.
  • Encourage your tenants to have renters insurance. Even if a fire isn’t directly in one tenant’s unit, sprinklers, fire hoses, and smoke can do a lot of damage.

Safety for Everyone

In any emergency, having an escape plan is crucial. Make sure all exits and evacuation pathways are clearly marked and communicated. If a fire does occur in your building, get yourself to safety and call 911. Once the smoke has cleared, give your agent a call. You don’t have to deal with a fire’s aftermath alone!

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