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Regulations for Apartment Building Fire Protection

Every year in the United States, about 100,000 apartment building fires break out, states the National Fire Protection Association. These fires result in about 400 deaths, 4,000 injuries, and 1.3 million dollars in property damage annually. Some of the leading causes of apartment fires include cooking and heating equipment, electrical wiring, open flames, arson, and playing with fire. January is the top month for apartment fires and casualties.

If you live in or oversee an apartment building, it’s important to prepare for the possibility of a fire. This involves keeping up with fire code regulations and following fire prevention tips. Here are the top ways tenants and landlords can work together to protect apartment buildings from fire.

Landlord Responsibilities

As the landlord of a multi-family apartment building or complex, it’s your job to make the property safe for your tenants. Here’s how:

  • Install a sprinkler system: Sprinkler regulations vary by state. For instance, North Carolina requires sprinklers in townhouses, South Carolina does not, and Tennessee allows local jurisdictions to decide. Regardless of the rules where you live, fire sprinklers always make a building safer in the event of a fire.
  • Install fire alarms and smoke detectors: Building-wide fire alarms are appropriate for apartments with one primary entrance and an elevator that leads to individual units on different floors. Independent smoke detectors may be suitable for smaller apartment buildings with exterior doors leading to each dwelling.
  • Put fire extinguishers in your building: Multipurpose ABC fire extinguishers are the appropriate type for apartment buildings. The number and placement of these extinguishers depend on the size of your property.
  • Inform tenants and staff of fire safety procedures: Dedicate a section of the lease to fire safety requirements outlining the precautions you expect your tenants to take. Then, create a fire safety plan and hang evacuation routes in the community areas of your building. Instruct all staff of their duties during a fire emergency and hold fire drills to practice them.

Tenant Responsibilities

The people living in an apartment building have the task of keeping it as safe in the event of a fire as possible. Here are the tips you should follow as an apartment tenant:

  • Learn about emergency exits: Walk the halls of your apartment building and locate all available exits from your floor. Make sure hallways and stairwells are unblocked and report any clutter obstructing the path to your landlord.
  • Learn about fire alarms: Locate the manual pull stations in your building, which are typically positioned within five feet of an exit. If you ever smell smoke or spot a fire, activate the pull station on your way out of the building. If you ever hear the fire alarm, take the nearest stairs to the ground floor and wait outside until emergency personnel tells you it’s safe to re-enter the building.
  • Test your smoke detector: Even if your apartment doesn’t feature a building-wide fire alarm, regulations require each unit to have a smoke detector. Test yours once a month to ensure it’s always in working condition.
  • Follow fire safety tips: It’s the tenants’ job to help prevent a fire in the first place. Here are some precautions to follow:
    • Never burn candles unattended.
    • Store matches out of reach of children.
    • Keep space heaters at least three feet from flammable objects.
    • Use extension cords safely.
    • Don’t operate gas or charcoal grills on a covered balcony.
    • Store flammable liquids in approved cabinets or containers.

Choose a Fire Protection Company in the Southeast

You don’t have time to learn about every applicable fire code where you live. To simplify things, turn to Unifour Fire & Safety. We’ll help you create a code-compliant fire safety plan. We’ll also determine which fire protection devices, alarms, sprinklers, and extinguishers you must install to remain code compliant. If your building already has the necessary fixtures, we can inspect and test them as required by fire protection regulations.

To request fire protection services in the Southeast, please contact Unifour Fire & Safety today!