Fire safety is a critical concern for any apartment complex, with the potential risk of fire disasters looming large. It is important for both renters and property managers to prioritize fire safety measures to prevent loss of life and property damage.
In this article, we provide three simple yet effective tips to ensure adequate fire safety in apartment complexes.
1. Ensure Building & Unit Numbers are Easy to Read
An easy (but oft-overlooked) aspect of fire safety in apartment complexes is easy-to-read lettering to ensure that emergency personnel can respond quickly in case of a fire.
When a fire breaks out in an apartment complex, emergency responders need to be able to quickly locate the affected building and unit. If firefighters are delayed even just a few minutes that could mean significantly more danger and damage.
If the building and unit numbers are not visible or are obscured by overgrown vegetation or debris, it can significantly delay the response time and compromise the safety of the residents. Property managers actually have a legal obligation to have clear, visible signage for units and buildings. In addition to the additional liability risked, failure to comply with this requirement can result in costly fines and legal penalties.
To ensure that the building and unit numbers are visible, make sure that they are at least four inches in height, located above or beside the front entrance, and well-lit at night. It is also vital to regularly inspect the signs and replace them if they are worn out or damaged.
2. Keep Breezeways & Stairwells Clear
Breezeways and stairwells in apartment complexes can turn into dangerous obstacles in the event of a fire, quickly blocking the escape route for the residents. It's tempting for residents to use this space for storage but it is critical to keep these areas clear and unobstructed, allowing people to exit safely and quickly.
In most apartment complexes, these spaces are narrow and debris or items left out can quickly clutter the available space, which could cause congestion during an emergency evacuation. In such a scenario, people could easily trip and fall, getting trapped and exposed to the dangers of fire.
These areas are often covered, which could also make them a trap for smoke and toxic gasses. Storing combustible materials or other flammable items in these areas can lead to an increase in the intensity and spread of the fire.
Fire code requires keeping these areas clear so it's not a surprise to most property managers. In practice, however, it is very common for residents to use space for parking bikes or storing other possessions.
Residents need to be informed of the importance of keeping these areas clear at all times so you may consider posting signs as reminders and property managers must enforce safety rules regarding the use of breezeways and stairwells.
3. Install & Maintain Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors are one of the most crucial components of fire safety in any property and can save lives by alerting residents of potential fire hazards early enough to evacuate the property safely.
It is crucial to space smoke detectors out throughout a property and regular maintenance checks are a must to ensure that the batteries are charged, and the alarm is working. If a smoke detector is not working correctly, it should be replaced immediately.
Property owners or managers may also consider smoke alarm monitoring systems. This makes it easy to ensure all detectors on the property are properly functioning and, more importantly, they will automatically cut the power to ovens or microwaves when a smoke alarm sounds.