The Fire Prevention Code applies mainly to commercial and industrial buildings. Provisions of this code also are enforced in the common areas of apartment buildings (such as hallways, boiler rooms and laundry rooms). Complaints regarding life safety violations, such as blocked exits and inoperative fire protection equipment, are given the highest priority.
Fire Prevention Permits
Protect Your Business
Is your business prepared for disaster?
As a business owner or manager, you have many responsibilities in serving your customers. An important consideration that may be overlooked is how your business would recover from a disastrous event. Planning ahead and implementing some simple strategies could mean the difference between inconvenience and catastrophe. In the computer age, it is easier than ever to make backup copies of important records. In fact, most businesses routinely back up their data to guard against computer problems. Having backup tapes makes it easy to restore the contents of your computer, but what happens if your business is damaged by fire or flooding? Copies of critical records will be destroyed unless they are stored in a separate location. Here are some simple steps to assess the vulnerability of your records:
- Identify the records that are critical to your business - customer records, accounts payable and receivable, legal records, tax filings etc.
- Look at the hazards present in the area where the records are stored. Basements can be damp and can become flooded. Attics are hot in summer and cold in winter. Records in both locations can be subject to damage from mold, insects and vermin. Even within your office space, storage areas may be located directly under piping or equipment that can leak. Paper records stored in metal cabinets will be somewhat safer from fire than records in cardboard boxes.
- Review the methods in which these records are stored. It may be practical to photocopy critical records or scan them onto compact disks.
- Arrange for off-site storage of copies of critical records. For the small business, the owner might simply store copies of important records at home. For larger needs, there are a number of self-storage vendors in the area that offer rental of small to medium storage units.
- Service businesses such as accounting firms, law offices and insurance offices should identify locations that they could move to temporarily in the event that their principal location is damaged by fire, flooding or other circumstance. Companies with more than one location in the area may be able to "double-up" temporarily. Smaller businesses may need to rent vacant space.
- In addition to locating office space to move to in an emergency, you might also need to rent computers and other office equipment. Plan ahead by identifying a vendor to use should this become necessary.
The fire department prepares "pre-plans" for many of the buildings in the city. These plans contain information about the hazards in the building and the actions to be taken in the event of a fire or other emergency. You should have a "Disaster Recovery Plan" for your business. This plan should contain:
- Information on the insurance carried by the business and the contact information for claims.
- The locations of critical records and their back up copies. Identify key personnel that will be notified in the event that the plan must be implemented.
- Information regarding landlords or leasing agents to be contacted for vacant space.
- The names of vendors of rental office equipment.
- Contact information for the telephone company to arrange for relocation of phone service.
- The names of contractors specializing in emergency repairs and clean-up. Key staff members should keep copies of the plan. As with any plan, it should be reviewed periodically and updated as needed.
The City of Fairfax Fire Department is here to help you. If you would like a safety inspection of your business, or need help preparing a plan, contact the Office of Code Administration at (703)-385-7830