What To Do If The Fire Marshal Visits
Some Facilities Managers have been lucky enough to have never experienced a surprise inspection. But the odds aren’t always on your side: code regulations in the San Francisco Bay Area allow the fire marshal to perform a drop-in inspection every year.
Is your business ready for a surprise inspection? And what happens if you don’t pass?
The top reasons you may get a surprise visit from the fire marshal
A fire marshal may conduct a surprise inspection of a commercial generator or emergency power system for different reasons and under various circumstances.
Fire marshals often perform regular inspections of commercial buildings to ensure compliance with fire safety regulations (NFPA 110). These routine inspections may include checks on generators or emergency power systems to verify their operational readiness and compliance with relevant codes and standards.
Complaints or Concerns
If there are complaints or concerns raised about the safety or functionality of a commercial generator or EPS, the fire marshal may conduct a surprise inspection to investigate the issue. These complaints can come from employees, customers, neighboring businesses, or even anonymous sources. The fire marshal’s objective is to assess the validity of the concerns and ensure that the system meets safety requirements.
After an Incident or Emergency
In the event of a fire or other emergencies, the fire marshal may conduct an inspection of the affected property, including its emergency power systems. This inspection aims to determine if the systems functioned properly during the incident and identify any deficiencies that need to be addressed to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Regulatory Changes or Updates
If there are changes in NFPA 110, (the regulations that impact commercial generators or emergency power systems), fire marshals may conduct surprise inspections to assess compliance. These inspections ensure that businesses adhere to the updated requirements and maintain a safe environment for occupants.
High-Risk or Critical Facilities
Certain facilities are considered high-risk or critical due to the nature of their operations or the populations they serve. Examples include hospitals, data centers, nursing homes, or facilities handling hazardous materials. Fire marshals may conduct surprise inspections of their generators or emergency power systems to ensure their readiness and ability to provide uninterrupted power during emergencies.
It’s important to note that the specific circumstances leading to a surprise inspection can vary depending on local regulations, industry requirements, and the fire marshal’s discretion. Businesses should be prepared for surprise inspections by regularly maintaining their generators or emergency power systems and ensuring compliance with NFPA 110.
The consequences of a surprise Inspection from the fire marshal
When a fire marshal conducts a surprise inspection of your business’s commercial generator or emergency power system, it can have several consequences. Here are four potential outcomes:
If the commercial generator fails to meet the fire marshal’s safety standards under NFPA 110, the company may face compliance issues. This can result in fines, penalties, or legal actions against the business. Non-compliance may also lead to operational disruptions or even temporary closure until the necessary modifications or repairs are made.
A surprise inspection that uncovers safety violations or shortcomings in the emergency power system can negatively impact the company’s reputation. News of non-compliance or safety hazards can spread quickly through word-of-mouth or media coverage, leading to a loss of customer trust and potential business opportunities. The company may need to invest significant resources into reputation management and rebuilding trust with stakeholders.
During the inspection, the fire marshal may require the generator to be temporarily shut down for assessment or repairs. This can disrupt the company’s operations, especially if it heavily relies on the generator for continuous power supply. Business interruptions can lead to financial losses, missed deadlines, dissatisfied customers, and decreased productivity. Adequate contingency plans should be in place to minimize the impact of such disruptions.
Increased Operational Costs
Following a surprise inspection, the fire marshal may identify necessary improvements or upgrades to ensure compliance and safety. Implementing these changes can be costly, as it may involve purchasing new equipment, installing additional safety measures, or training staff on proper maintenance and operation. The company may also need to allocate additional resources for ongoing inspections and preventive maintenance to avoid future non-compliance under NFPA 110. These increased operational costs can strain the company’s budget and potentially impact profitability.
It is essential for businesses to regularly maintain and inspect their commercial generators or emergency power systems to ensure compliance with NFPA 110 and mitigate potential consequences associated with surprise inspections.
The best way to ensure this is to contact a reputable generator service company like Electro-Motion. At Electro-Motion, we have 50 years of experience designing custom maintenance plans for any backup power system, on just about any budget. All our maintenance is performed by ESGA-certified technicians with a minimum of 100 hours of safety and skills training per year. Our techs are available 24/7, with a maximum two-hour response time for emergencies.
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