by Don Mesquit | March 31, 2020
We are now operating in an environment that makes running a business harder than ever. I applaud GoDaddy for thinking of #OpenWeStand!
I am writing this to hopefully support anyone who reads it and helps get you all back to work as usual.
Our business provides Fire & Life Safety services to Business Owners, Commercial and Residential Communities, etc. Our services started to be turned away when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit the Southern California region of the world. And just like that, I had to make a sensible plan quickly. Not only for the survival of the company but, more importantly, for the men and women working for us, their families, and our customers.
The Plan: On March 17th. I contacted our largest customer, who happens to be a Property Management business, due to the start of cancellations by community managers. Their reason for canceling was based on the media and governmental warnings, understandably so. What I had expressed was the need to continue the Inspection and Certifications of their Fire & Life Safety systems per California Adopted NFPA 25 standards.
The Inspections and Certifications would be in an abbreviated or modified form, meaning, we could avoid social contact as regularly practiced. For example; When performing an Annual Fire Sprinkler System Certification, we would typically enter every livable space in an apartment building. That part of the scope of work is to inspect all of the Fire Sprinkler Heads, which would be a lot of social contacts. That was an unsafe practice in this COVID-19 environment.
How to balance all of this: Here’s, in part, what I wrote our customer:
“X is on the schedule this week and X, the next. The good part is that these are the Quarterly Inspections. Per the State Fire Marshal, we do not have to enter any livable spaces (Units) during these types of inspections. Our work lies in the stairwells, parking structures, and common areas. The Fire Pump Testing is also scheduled, which is in the Parking, and we will not need access to any other locations.”
“We can follow this same pattern with the Annual Inspections as well, leaving the livable spaces (UBU) for a make-up date. Our concern is that when the make-up dates for all of your Fire & Life Safety comes, there will be a lot of it. That can create a bottleneck in the scheduling and performance. So leaving just the livable spaces (UBU) for later would be wise.”
That was overwhelmingly positive news for him. It meant that at the very least, they were doing something pro-active for their Fire & Life Safety! Our schedule went right back to normal.
Talk With Your Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), See If An “Abbreviated” Version Of Your Fire System Inspections Is Acceptable. If Entering Every Livable Unit Or Office Space Isn’t Wise, Then Ask If All Other Areas Can Be Inspected. Make Sure Your Essential Fire & Life Safety Provider Has A COVID-19 Preventative Plan In Place. Keep Your Staff Educated, And To A Minimum While Following Your Chosen Guidelines. Together We Can Make Fire & Life Safety A Priority.
We had then sent out over six-thousand emails to Property Managers, Service Managers and alike telling them of the abbreviated form of Inspection and Certification of their Fire & Life Safety Systems. The response has been slow but is to be expected.
Then, a news release from the NFPA came on March 26th. It was urging Officials to list all Fire & Life Safety ( Fire Sprinkler, Fire Alarm, etc.) personnel as “Essential.” What great news! In that article and downloadable fact sheet, it recommends the continual Inspections and Certifications should be enforced. There are stringent guidelines to adhere to, of course, and this is for the safety of all.
Think what would happen if we let all of our Fire Protection go un-maintained?
Now we have a Pandemic and possibly inoperable Fire Protection Systems. Fires, heaven forbid, break out and spread due to maintenance negligence. This call to keep all Essentials working is the right thing to do.
Here is a link to the news release:https://nfpa.org/Codes-and-Standards/Resources/Standards-in-action/NFPA-responds-to-the-coronavirus/Guidance-for-maintaining-fire-protection-and-life-safety-systems
Here is a link to the Fact Sheet:https://nfpa.org/-/media/Files/Code-or-topic-fact-sheets/ITMFactSheet.ashx
I hope this finds someone in our industry and gets them back to work. If it creates some ideas for you, great!