Are You Blocking Your Emergency Responders?

When it comes to being proactive about fire safety and response, keeping the fire lane clear is often the focus of safety and building managers. While that action is essential, there are many other considerations related to facility layout and maintenance that can affect fire department access.

Here’s a look at a few of the issues fire crews might encounter during a fire response specifically related to facility security and access — and how you can remedy them.

Building and Gate Identification

This one might seem obvious, but it is always good to revisit the fundamentals. Building address numbers must be visible from the street so that crews can easily identify the facility. Per fire code, address numbers can be mounted either on the building itself or on a post located on the street. From a visual standpoint, the numbers should be a different color than the background of the building or post and be large enough to stand out from the street. 

Gates can be another layer of complexity for crews to have to navigate. Each gate should be numbered or marked, so that if you needed to direct somebody in a different area of the yard, you could do so without great effort. 

Fire Apparatus Access Roads

As for access routes, the fire department should be able to get within 50 feet of at least one exterior door and be within 150 feet of all exterior portions of the first story. Per fire code, they should also be able to get within 150 feet of access to all hazards, piles, storage, etc.

Fire access routes must be at least 20 feet wide.  Think about whether you would drive your personal truck down these lanes.  Holes, and debris, that do not block your material handlers can keep firefighters from responding effectively.

Access Boxes

Upon arriving at the scene, fire crews need to be able to open any gates or doors leading into the facility or building that may be secured. A secure key access box is one solution that gives the fire department the ability to obtain keys to gain entry during an emergency.   

Discuss this concern with your responding fire department.  They may have specific requests that will help them out.  Think, for example, about electric fences that may cause a hazard. 

In the event of an incident, it’s incumbent on safety managers to ensure that fire department and first responders can properly identify and access all areas of the building. Even a few seconds could save property, and more importantly, lives. Check these items during your monthly audits. Inaction could cost you but being proactive is never a waste of time.

I recommend a pre-planning tour as a great way to develop a working relationship with your fire fighters.  Watch this very short video for a closer look at making the fire department your friend.

And don’t forget I’m here to help in any way.  I’m passionate about your fire safety 24-7, 365.

In safety,

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