The Impact of COVID-19 on Fire Safety

The arrival of a novel disease like the one society now faces tends to override most other health and safety concerns. Of course, the presence of COVID-19 does not nullify all other safety protocols, such as fire safety. Indeed, some of the measures taken to prevent the transmission COVID-19 may actually interfere with a facility’s fire protection efforts, potentially creating more of a hazard. To ensure the ongoing safety of all personnel, it is imperative for facility managers to understand how COVID-19 affects all aspects of the facility’s safety protocols, and work toward implementing systems that fully account for every relevant safety concern.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Fire Safety

The connection between COVID-19 and fire safety might not seem clear. In fact, one might think that fire safety would be less of an issue during a pandemic, considering many facilities are currently restricting occupancy. However, occupancy is only one factor among many regarding fire safety, and some of the necessary changes put in place to mitigate COVID-19 may create new threats, including:

  • The increased presence of flammable or combustible materials, such as hand sanitizers, disinfectants, personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitary wipes, dried plants (from lack of watering), etc.
  • Changes in how certain spaces are used (i.e. fewer people and more supplies might transform some rooms into storage spaces with minimal oversight and hazardous materials)
  • The unique challenges of running fire drills while maintaining social distancing protocols
  • The potential decrease in maintenance and janitorial services (due to budget cuts, limited occupancy, etc.), which would normally ensure that all surfaces and spaces are hazard-free and all exits are cleared for proper egress
  • Limited access to areas of the building by staff and outsourced partners such as office cleaning crews, inspectors, etc.

Maintaining Fire Safety During COVID-19

The new threats and challenges outlined above cannot be ignored if you wish to achieve proper building maintenance and fire safety efforts during this pandemic and beyond. Each facility has unique needs and obstacles, but there are several steps all facility managers can take to better navigate these unprecedented times. These efforts include:

  • Establishing proper, safe storage rules for all materials, namely those that pose a fire hazard (i.e. flammable and combustible materials)
  • Training personnel in the proper use of disinfectants, sanitizers, PPE, etc.
  • Creating and conducting fire drills with social distancing/mask-wearing measures in place
  • Scheduling commercial deep cleaning services to regularly inspect, clean, and disinfect all surfaces
  • Maintaining trash and debris removal regimens to reduce the amount of flammable waste in or near the building and reduce physical obstacles
  • Ensuring all exits are accessible and allow for efficient egress
  • Receiving routine inspections of all potential fire hazards and fire safety equipment/devices (i.e. extinguishers, non-flammable blankets, alarms, detectors, cameras, etc.)

Staying Safe in Every Way During COVID-19

Facility managers have plenty on their plate just dealing with COVID-19 alone. However, you must make sure that all other safety measures remain intact, despite the additional challenges that have risen. If you need a helping hand, The Budd Group’s janitorial, maintenance, disinfection, and facility support experts offer everything facilities need to bolster their fire safety efforts amidst the current pandemic. To learn more about our services and values, give us a call today at 800-221-8158!

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