Preventing Mold in Commercial Properties
Commercial properties like schools should take precautionary measures to ensure any water damage incidents do not lead to mold growth
Mold growth in your commercial property can lead to structural damage to the property itself and health concerns for those exposed to it. There are many factors that can lead to mold growth as well as steps that can be taken as preventative measures. This article will cover both to keep you, the business manager or owner, better informed and prepared to handle a mold situation.
How Mold Can Spread in Commercial Properties
Mold thrives in damp, dark places. So you can find mold just about anywhere that moisture lingers in the air. Mold spores can cling to and grow on a variety of building surfaces including stone, brick, wood, drywall, and metal.
Here are three factors that contribute to the formation and spreading of commercial mold.
1. Moisture Due to Humid Conditions
When outside temperatures fall during the fall and winter seasons, mold often begins to form indoors where the air is warmer and more humid.
You can sometimes see condensation forming on the interior of glass windows and skylights. If this moisture drips down the walls and manages to penetrate into seams and cracks in the walls, it is very likely that mold will begin to grow.
2. Water Leaks From Roof and Plumbing
One of the biggest causes of mold infestations is leaks in the roof or leaky pipes in the walls. These leaks often go undetected for months or even years, allowing massive colonies of mold to fill the spaces in attics and inside walls and ceilings.
This water damage combined with mold can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, and it often will require entire facilities to be shut down for mold restoration and remodeling.
3. Condensation forming in an HVAC system
Other troublesome spots where mold forms in commercial buildings are the heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) system. Due to the heating and cooling of the metal ducts and vents, condensation often forms on these surfaces that are hidden away from view. These dark, damp places become a breeding ground for various types of mold.
And the worst part is that the ventilation system then blows mold spores throughout the entire building. Those spores can lie dormant for a very long time. But once they come in contact with moisture, they can begin to grow and spread.
How to Prevent the Spread of Mold in Commercial Properties
Preventing the spread of mold should be a high priority for commercial property managers. Whenever mold or water leaks are discovered, swift action must be taken to prevent further growth and damage. Here are three strategies that need to be implemented consistently.
1. Inspect Moisture-Prone Areas Regularly
As noted above, the HVAC system needs to be routinely inspected for mold and moisture, particularly the evaporator coils and drain pans and pipes. Surfaces should be inspected, cleaned and disinfected once a year or more if necessary.
Roof tiles should also receive a professional inspection annually, and attic spaces should be checked for water damage too.
All kitchen and bath areas should be checked, including in the backs of cabinets and vanities, as mold thrives in dark spaces. And again, all surfaces should be cleaned regularly.
2. Clean and Disinfect All Surfaces Frequently
Routine cleaning cannot be emphasized enough. Not only should areas when mold and moisture are spotted be cleaned thoroughly, but all floors, walls and counter spaces should be disinfected regularly to kill spores that lie dormant.
3. Use Dehumidifiers to Reduce Moisture in the Air
Lastly, some commercial buildings that have routinely humid conditions might benefit from the use of dehumidifiers placed throughout the building or in conjunction with the HVAC system. These remove excess moisture from the air and make it difficult for mold spores to grow.
Fighting commercial mold can be a challenge for business owners and commercial property managers, but by knowing what to look for - and by engaging in consistent and thorough cleaning practices - mold can be kept in check to provide a safe environment for everyone.
Preventing Mold in Your Maintenance Closet
Maintenance closets are one of the most common places where mold growth is found in commercial properties.
Lack of Air Circulation
Closets, in general, are a very common hiding place for mold. This is due to the fact that there is usually an absence of ventilation in closets. When you open a closet and then close it shut moist air can easily become trapped within. The moisture will usually lead to condensation on the wall without the chance of evaporation. This provides an excellent environment for mold to thrive in.
How to Prevent
The simplest task you can perform is to routinely check the walls in the closet for condensation. This can help you notice a moisture issue before it becomes a mold issue. However, the best way to prevent the problem is to create an avenue for air to circulate in and out of the closet. Installing air vents on the upper and lower areas of the closet door can help ensure better airflow and prevent moisture from being trapped
Leaking Water Heater
Many times, utility closets will share a space with a water heater. If the equipment has not been maintained, it is common for a leak to occur.
How to Prevent
Be sure to run routine checks on your water heater to make sure it is working efficiently for you and not causing a water damage situation in your closet which could lead to mold growth
Mop Buckets and Cleaning Supplies
Maintenance closets are usually deemed the perfect place for hiding mops, buckets, used towels, and other cleaning supplies. However, these items can lend to the moisture that gets trapped in your closet and leads to mold. This is especially true, for mop bucket spills!
How to Prevent
If possible, keep the items mentioned above away from your storage closet. If you must store them there, make sure that mop buckets are emptied and wiped dry. Mops should be squeezed of excess moisture and towels should only be returned to the closet if dry.
Clutter along the floor of your maintenance closet is the perfect opportunity to hide spills, moisture, and mold growth from your line of sight.
How to Prevent
Try to keep clutter to a minimum and put loose items on shelves in your maintenance closet. This makes it much easier to identify moisture on your closet floor or even cleaning after water damage that may have seeped into the closet.
8 Reasons Mold Can Keep Coming Back
Many DIY solutions for getting rid of mold can be ineffective. Proper testing and remediation by professionals is the best way to prevent its return.
Mold is stubborn. It can spread throughout a property very quickly and even cause a variety of health issues for individuals who occupy the same space. Mold is extremely persistent and has been known to return even after it has been cleaned. Many homeowners and business managers make the choice to handle mold issues themselves and try using ordinary cleaning methods that just are not effective when dealing with this type of problem.
What is Mold Exactly?
Mold is commonly mistaken for and treated as a stain or dirt, however, mold is actually a living organism that grows, especially in damp places. Mold spreads by releasing microscopic spores into the air. In fact, mold spores are naturally in the air all around us. It is actually impossible to completely remove mold spores from the air. Understanding why mold can keep coming back can help ensure that you make the right decisions towards removing it if it becomes your problem to handle. Here are some reasons that mold can return in a property:
1. Neglecting Water Damage
Water damage can occur in numerous ways in properties including roof leaks, overflowing toilets, leaky pipes, faulty dishwashers, etc. Disasters happen. However, making sure that water is cleaned up and any moisture is removed from affected materials quickly can prevent further damage. Water damage that has been neglected or gone unnoticed can lead to mold growth in as quick as 48 hours.
2. Cleaning Porous Materials
DIY cleaning methods can sometimes be effective if the surface being cleaned is non-porous. Most cleaning methods will not work for porous materials, such as wood and drywall, because the mold will avoid the cleaning agent by retreating deeper into the material, only to resurface again later. Cleaning portions of the mold is ineffective if the nucleus is not destroyed. Affected materials should be carefully removed, discarded, and replaced to ensure the mold does not return.
3. Painting Over Mold
It is not uncommon to find that a previous mold problem was simply painted over to hide the temporarily hide the issue from new tenants or homeowners. The mold usually does not take long to eat through the paint and reappear. Not to mention, hiding the mold does nothing to solve the issue of damage spreading behind the wall.
4. Excess Moisture and Ignoring Source
Since mold thrives in damp areas, the first step to removing it is to reduce the moisture levels in a home. Disregarding the source of the mold issue only means that the problem may occur again. Call a professional to fix leaky pipes, broken air conditioning units, roof damage, etc. and use a dehumidifier to get the moisture out of the air. Similarly, it is important that all damp fabric is allowed to completely dry. Hang up towels so that they can fully dry. Kitchens, basements, and bathrooms are common places for mold.
5. Indoor Humidity
Mold is extremely common in Florida due to high humidity levels that allow mold to thrive. Making sure your air conditioning is running correctly and constantly can help prevent high humidity in your property making it more difficult for mold to grow. Indoor humidity that exceeds 60% can become a source for mold all on its own. Also, make sure that every room has proper ventilation so that any excess moisture in the air does not become stagnant and cause an ideal environment for mold to grow in.
6. Generic Cleaning Products
Generic or all-around cleaners will not work on mold. Bleach does not work for all species of mold. It can be effective on certain species of mold but inefficient for others sometimes making the situation worse. Make sure to experiment with natural alternatives and invest in mold-specific cleaners. Be generous as you spray and do not wipe it right away. The cleaner needs to work its magic and kill the living mold at its nucleus. The most effective method is to test for mold and receive a treatment protocol from a licensed mold assessor.
7. Keeping Affected Items
Some items may be permanently affected by mold. If an old couch has a lot of mold on it, you may have to get rid of it instead of trying to save it. Similarly, glass is easy to clean whereas wood is harder and will most likely have to removed and replaced. Wash clothing and discard any items deeply affected by the mold. This can minimize the risk of the mold spreading back to the structural components of your home. To be on the safe side, it is best to hire a professional remediation company with experience in salvaging materials affected by mold.
8. Not Consulting Professionals
If you have dealt with major water damage to your home, it is wise to try and get ahead of mold issues by consulting professionals. Experts know where mold is likely to fester, and they can use the best equipment and techniques to properly remediate the issue. You may not have the expertise to do everything yourself. They know why mold may be returning, and they have the tools to get rid of it for good. Investing in professionals' services protects your home, furniture and family's health. Proper air quality testing by an environmental hygienist can provide accurate insights into the type of mold you have, its source, areas affected, and how to remove it for your specific instance.
Mold is persistent and can grow very quickly. If you have tried to remove it and it returns, know that this is normal. Oftentimes, homeowners can make a mold situation worse, which makes the remediation more costly. For the best results, call in professionals to keep mold from returning. The quicker you act, the better.
Why Post-Remediation Testing is Recommended
Mold spores are microscopic and when airborne, can help mold spread to unaffected areas of your property and also potentially cause health issues.
Mold is not always visible and is capable of hiding away quietly inside of walls and deep under foundations eating away at the crucial structures of your home. It is also very common that complications related to the health of those who come into contact with mold are reported. Mold remediation, the treatment and/or removal of mold, can be costly but not nearly as costly as a failure to address the issue. The longer mold goes unnoticed and unmitigated, the further it can spread and more damage it can cause. If you discover a potential mold problem, you should absolutely have it tested and addressed. However, remediation efforts should always be followed up with a post-remediation mold test. Here's why.
Leading Up to the Final Test
In order to diagnose a mold issue in the first place, mold inspectors will conduct a visual search but even more importantly, they will collect air quality samples. Mold often forms deep under foundations or behind walls where you can't see it but will permeate the air with mold spores. These spores are microscopic and when airborne, can help the mold to spread to unaffected areas of your property and also potentially cause health issues when breathed in.
Once the samples have been tested and it is determined that you have a mold problem, the inspection company will create a written mold remediation protocol that must be followed in order to properly treat or remove the mold issue. The problem, of course, is that once again you cannot see the mold, which means you will have no idea whether proper protocols were followed or if the mold issue was properly attended to. This is where the post-remediation test comes into play.
Why Do I Need the Post-Remediation Test?
A post-remediation test is sometimes referred to as a clearance test. It is essentially the same test that was conducted to find mold in the first place, only this time there should be no high concentrations of mold spores in the samples taken. If the air samples show the number of spores have been reduced to normal levels or below, the problem has been addressed correctly.
If proper protocols are not followed, however, mold will continue to grow without you being aware of it. A post-remediation clearance test is the only true way to determine if your remediation was successful. Ordering the test allows you to either have the peace of mind of knowing your home is mold-free or have the remediation company revisit the remediation to achieve the necessary results.
SERVPRO of Winter Park
Our franchise performs the remediation portion of the mold process and has certified professional mold technicians. We require a mold protocol before remediation and highly recommend performing a clearance test after. If you believe you have a mold issue and are seeking the help of a highly trained professional, give us a call today at (407) 678-5391.
Why a Mold Protocol is Required Before Remediation
A written protocol outlines the necessary process that a company performing remediation must follow in order to achieve the best results.
Mold Remediation Protocol
In the state of Florida, it is typically required that professional remediation organizations such as SERVPRO of Winter Park have a written mold remediation protocol in their possession before conducting any work. The protocol accurately assesses the proper treatment and removal of mold in areas of a building that have been affected by mold. Mold lab results can be combined with the findings of the professional mold inspection and an intimate understanding of the property’s layout. Using all of this knowledge and data, the remediation professionals can devise a plan that is tailored to the specific mold problems impacting a client’s property. Adhering to the protocol’s instructions ensures that the company performing the remediation can complete the process safely and promptly. Among other things, the protocol can specify when carpets, furniture, and other items that have been impacted by mold can still be cleaned and when it’s time for these materials to be removed.
Steps of the Protocol
The following are the steps required during the protocol process.
The property’s present conditions are surveyed and discussed with a person who is authorized to handle the property’s affairs.
The areas that were affected are given a physical site assessment. The site assessment accomplishes several functions: the site assessment visually inspects the damage(s), gathers temperature and relative humidity (RH) readings, takes air samples and direct samples for mold (if necessary), and collects room dimensions to draft the required floor and room drawings to specify the location(s) of concern.
Non-viable spore trap air sampling is designed to get an approximation of the concentration of airborne microbial (fungal) spores. The most commonly used entrance of the property is used to collect at least one outside sample. After the outside sample is taken, air samples are gathered in the property’s areas of concern. If elevated airborne spore concentration levels are detected, this may mean that there is one or more indoor microbial reservoir(s). It may also mean that the microbial remediation plan must include either the cleaning of the HVAC system(s) or of personal effects within the building.
Direct sampling is used to pinpoint the type and relative concentration of the microbial spores that have affected tested materials. The direct sampling results are also used as source contamination reference material during the air sampling process.
Florida State Guidelines
There currently are no federal guidelines in place concerning mold remediation and testing procedures. Certain states, including Florida, have qualification regulations in place for licensed Mold Remediators and Mold Assessors. In Florida, companies are not allowed to hold both an assessor and remediation license simultaneously. It is recommended that only Florida licensed Assessors or Remediators are used during both sides of the process.
Why is This Protocol Required?
There are two main reasons for this mold protocol: the potential for conflicts of interest and data that can be gained prior to any removal actions.
Conflict of Interest Potential
Most mold remediators in Florida will not take a remediation assignment without an independent mold assessment and protocol being performed beforehand. Some years ago, the state of Florida implemented licensure procedures for both mold assessors and remediators. The regulators were so convinced of the necessity of both of these services that it forbids a single company from taking on both roles for any given project.
Valuable Pre-Removal Data
The second reason why the protocol is necessary is that the majority of contractors will not start a remediation project without a protocol being conducted. Without the protocol, the contractors will not have reliable data on the extent of the spread of the microscopic spore and the particle varieties of mold contamination. Failing to have this data on hand before remediation can lead to accusations of subpar testing or adherence to procedure between the parties involved in the mold assessment and remediation process.
Benefits of the Protocol
The protocol ensures that mold contaminations are properly assessed to facilitate the remediation process. It protects property owners from having to pay for additional remediation fees. It also provides a safe and healthy environment for visitors, residents, remediation companies, and property owners.
SERVPRO of Winter Park
For properties in need of mold remediation, contact SERVPRO of Winter Park at (407) 678-5391.
Restoration for Commercial Properties
SERVPRO of Winter Park has the equipment needed to handle disasters on a commercial scale.
Whether you do business in Orlando, FL or someplace else, commercial property damage can be a frustrating experience for any property owner. To address this expensive and stress-inducing concern, commercial restoration services are available to restore your commercial properties as efficiently as possible. These commercial restoration services typically provide an assortment of services that work together to fully restore your commercial property, saving you time and money in the process.
This article will go more in-depth into what commercial restoration services do, why they are important and how they operate.
Types of Damage which Impact Commercial Properties
In terms of damage, residential properties and commercial properties are essentially the same. The most common forms of commercial damage include:
• Mold: Mold is both an eyesore and is unhealthy to be around. Once mold has infested a property, it can rapidly spread as air-borne spores if left unchecked. Mold remediation measures are essential for preventing a property’s mold situation from out of control.
• Fire damage: Fire damage can come from many different sources. A lightning strike, a faulty gas stove or even a neglected, lit cigarette can be sources of fire damage to a commercial property. Fires can cause catastrophic levels of destruction to a commercial property, requiring restoration and cleaning services to return the property to normal.
• Water damage: Water damage can also come from a variety of sources. Severe floods, severe rain, and busted pipes are just a few of the ways that water damage can impact your commercial property. Water damage can create more damage if left untreated, resulting in issues such as contaminated water on surfaces and furniture, eroded materials and mold infestations. Electricity combined with water damage is a particularly deadly and destructive force.
• Wind and storm damage: Severe storms and strong winds can smash windows out, tear off roof tiles and damage unsheltered commercial equipment and other properties.
The Importance of Commercial Restoration Services
If your commercial property has some damage, you must reach out to a commercial restoration service as soon as possible.
Commercial property damage follows the same principle as most other types of damage: when left unchecked and unattended, the damage tends to get worse over time. What started as roof damage can lead to rainwater falling into your property, causing preventable water damage and mold issues. A neglected broken door can easily lead to your business’s valuables being susceptible to vandalism and theft.
Commercial property restoration is very important for another reason. Every day that your commercial business is closed due to damage, your company loses money and potential customers. Commercial businesses deal with a lot of overhead: bills, office and equipment rentals, salaries and services offered in good faith that they will be paid back. Commercial property damages worsen their overhead because the companies cannot earn their money back or turn a profit. Under these conditions, commercial properties will continue to lose money until they can open back up for business. Commercial restoration companies that can provide efficient services are an invaluable benefit to commercial properties under these circumstances.
Operations of Commercial Restoration Services
Commercial properties seeking commercial restoration services should look for companies that provide emergency services 24 hours a day. These types of companies can offer immediate relief whenever they are called, or as soon as emergency services have appropriately handled any potential health issues or risk factors.
Once the commercial restoration services arrive, they will usually start by assessing the damage level of the commercial property. Conducting the assessment will allow the restoration team to plan out a way to handle the damage and to start restoring the building’s functionality. It’s typical for the damage to be more serious than initially presumed. Smoke from a room affected by past fire damage may have seeped into another room. The mold that started in one room could infest another room due to water damage. To determine the extent of the damage, these restoration companies use sensors and other detection devices to accurately determine the extent of the damage to the commercial property.
Afterward, a commercial restoration company will begin any necessary preventative measures to ensure that no further damage will occur. This could mean making repairs to the property’s roof or its pipe system, or it may mean adding temporary equipment or components while the restoration team works.
Whatever isn’t salvageable will be disposed of. Some equipment and objects that normally stay inside of the commercial property may be temporarily moved from their usual places. For water damage, the restoration specialists will clear out water with large pumps and clean affected areas with scrubbers and other equipment. Any damp surfaces will have to be thoroughly dried to stop the potential for mold spreading to other rooms and surfaces. Sanitization measures will also need to be put in place for several health reasons.
Once the commercial property is cleaned and the building is sealed, the commercial restoration teams will repair and remodel its rooms. Numerous furnishings may need to be replaced, and other parts of the building may need to be redone, such as wall paint and carpeting.
These commercial restoration services will restore your commercial property after it suffers various sorts of damage. The restoration process will allow your business to return to normal operations as soon as possible.
Business Owner Tips
Here are a few tips on commercial restoration for companies such as yours:
• Do thorough research on commercial restoration companies near you before any damage happens
• Check for insurance policies that will cover damage from sources such as water and fire.
• Plan for worst-case scenarios and determine ways to keep earning revenue.
• Consider having staff work from home while restoration services are being conducted.
SERVPRO of Winter Park
If your commercial property needs restoration services, contact us, SERVPRO of Winter Park. SERVPRO of Winter Park serves the Orlando, FL area, providing a variety of affordable commercial property restoration services.
The Importance of a Fire Escape Route in Your Property
Find the safest exits in your property and educate your household or employees where to go in the event of a fire
A fire can happen suddenly and grow quickly. Fire can become deadly and needs to be taken seriously. Is your family or business ready if a fire were to happen in your environment?
For most, the answer to this question is no. The first step to fixing this issue is to make a plan for where everyone is located and how to handle it. The best way to do this is to map it out. Put pen to paper with the layout of your home and/or business, where each individual or group is located, and what route they need to take during an evacuation.
After making a map be sure to mark on that map where all of the smoke alarms are. To be up to standards there should be one on each level, and ideally one in each room. Make sure that these batteries are changed at least every 6 months.
The next step is to establish the exact place where everyone needs to meet. For a family, it may be the giant oak tree across the street. For a business it may be one place or several places if it is a large establishment. It is important to know where this place is, and how many people should be there. When the fire station comes they will ask if everyone is present and accounted for to know how many and who they need to look for.
When you have made it to a safe place you will finally need to call 911. The fire department, ambulance, and police will be dispatched in ordered to get the fire under control and any medical attention taken care of.
When everything is under control give us a call at SERVPRO to help clean everything up and get you back into your home.
Tropical Storm Dorian Gaining Power
The latest Tropical Storm Dorian update from the National Hurricane Center features some potentially encouraging news for Floridians.
A still-uncertain long-term track showed the storm near Florida over the weekend, but Hurricane Hunters couldn't find a clear center during their latest flight due to the storm moving across St. Lucia. That disruption and dry air have kept Dorian from intensifying.
The storm's effects are expected to be felt in Puerto Rico by Wednesday afternoon and travel up to Hispaniola that night. Forecasters say Dorian will then head toward the Bahamas Friday and Saturday and reach southeastern Florida by early Sunday.
While uncertainty is high, Florida residents should monitor the progress of Dorian and ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place.
There was a slight adjustment north in the forecast cone Monday night to include Orlando and Daytona Beach. The cone was also tightened up to cross the eastern side of Hispaniola, meaning it is less likely now that the mountains will have a chance to significantly weaken Dorian.
If the storm goes across the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the mountains might weaken it, but if it stays over the ocean, weather officials believe the storm could gain strength as it travels towards Florida.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that as of 11 a.m. Tuesday the storm has maximum sustained winds near 50 miles per hour and is forecast to strengthen during the next 48 hours before hitting the U.S. territory. It is currently 60 miles west-northwest of St. Lucia.
We're in the peak of hurricane season
Dorian is the fourth named storm of this hurricane season. Generally, the season reaches a peak in the eight weeks surrounding September 10.
Two-thirds of all the storms produced in a typical season occur during this period.
That's because conditions in the tropics become ideal for storm development. By the end of August, water has typically warmed to the mid-80s in many parts of the region.
Storm Tips 2019
Nail down roof shingles or use adequate adhesive to keep them from blowing off in a violent wind.
No matter where you live, you'll encounter storms. Most of the time these are routine, but some cause serious and dangerous problems. Here are tips for preparing for storms, and weathering them safely.
- Always keep a battery-powered radio in your home so that you can tune to radio stations if you lose electricity. Check or change the batteries frequently.
- Keep a flashlight in an easily accessible spot on every floor of your home. Check the batteries monthly, and replace them as needed.
- Keep a supply of candles on hand for power failures.
- As a safety precaution before leaving the house on vacation, unplug all electrical appliances except for those lights connected to automatic timers.
- If you live in a storm-prone area, nail down roof shingles or use adequate adhesive to keep them from blowing off in a violent wind. For roofs with shingles that are not the seal-down type, apply a little dab of roofing cement under each tab.
- A lightning-protection system should offer an easy, direct path for the bolt to follow into the ground and thus prevent injury or damage. Grounding rods (at least two for a house) should be placed at opposite corners of the house.
- Don't go out during a hurricane unless you have to; however, if flooding threatens, seek high ground, and follow the instructions of civil defense personnel.
- When a major storm is imminent, close shutters, board windows, or tape the inside of larger panes with an "X" along the full length of their diagonals. Even a light material like masking tape may give the glass the extra margin of strength it needs to resist cracking.
- When a tornado threatens, leave windows slightly ajar.
- The basement is not good shelter during a tornado -- it's too close to gas pipes, sewer pipes, drains, and cesspools. A better shelter would be underground, far from the house (in case the roof falls) and away from the gas and sewer systems. Let all family members know where the shelter is.
- Keep an eye on large trees -- even healthy ones -- that could damage your house if felled in a storm. Cut them back, if necessary.
We've covered numerous key tips for preparing for storms and getting through them safely. Now you can regard gathering clouds with a little less trepidation.
Fire Safety for Orlando Hotel Managers
Fire sprinklers are a great way to alert staff and guests of a fire and can help minimize the damage sustained.
In Orlando, FL, concerns about fire safety is typically the last thing on the minds of your hotel’s guests. Hotel fires can put many people’s lives in jeopardy, particularly sleeping guests and those who live on the higher floors of the hotel building. Fires can also cause large-scale damage to your business.
Policies within the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 require hotel management to conduct fire assessments, to apply fire control and prevention initiatives, and to give people the tools and knowledge to evacuate a fire as safely as possible.
Hotel fire can be very deadly, often taking the lives of those who are unaware of the danger and who are unprepared for it. Applying an appropriate amount of safety training and resources for your hotel can prevent the unthinkable.
Fire Safety for Hotels Checklist
The Regulatory Reform establishes a series of fire control responsibilities that must be handled to ensure that your hotel is safe for both guests and your staff. Any hotels who are lacking in fire safety measures can be issued notices requiring the hotels to address these deficiencies. In the most severe cases, the authorities may prevent the business from operating as usual until there is progress on attaining full compliance with the Reform’s standards.
This Fire Safety for Hotels Checklist is divided into these topics:
• Fire Risk Assessment
• Fire Wardens
• Fire Training
• Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems
• Fire Route Plans
• Fire Evacuation Plans
• Informing Guests of Fire Safety
Fire Risk Assessment
A fire risk assessment involves five steps.
• Hazard identification: consider the means by which fires can happen, such as obstructed ventilation and damaged electrical plug sockets. Locate potential sources of kindling as well, such as paper, laundry, chemicals, and furniture.
• At-risk individuals: you must assess who are the most vulnerable people in the event of a fire. Guests should be your main focus. They generally don’t know your building’s layout and could even be soundly sleeping when a fire breaks out. Another important group to consider are those with hearing, seeing or mobility disabilities.
• Fire safety measures: assess ways to establish or improve upon current fire safety practices. This may include better housekeeping procedures, such as periodic checks of electrical appliances and plugs. Constructing disability-minded escape routes on the levels above the ground floor may be another measure.
• Record findings and corrective actions: The Regulatory Reform authorities will inspect your hotel records to ensure that you are actively managing your fire safety risks and hazards. This includes past compliance with their standards. This means that it’s necessary and wise to write down everything that you do and everything that still needs to be accomplished.
• Review: hotel buildings and their appliances do not last forever. This means that new hazards will show up from time to time and past fire control measures will lose their effectiveness. You must periodically reassess risks, reestablish control measures and rerecord fire prevention and control-related information.
It will be your responsibility to appoint someone with sufficient competence to serve as the hotel’s fire warden. This person will be responsible for the hotel’s fire safety, prevention, and evacuation guidelines. The fire warden can be someone picked out by you, or you can serve the role yourself. Either way, the designated fire warden must gain both technical and practical training in fire safety procedures so that they are well-versed in preventing and combating fires.
Hotel guests can’t be expected to know the building’s escape routes enough to evacuate efficiently, meaning that they may rely solely on someone who can guide them to safety during a fire. Fire wardens should maintain a guest list for this reason, and they should work with fire rescue personnel in cases when someone on the list cannot be accounted for in the evacuation process.
Some hotels are so large or complex that they need multiple fire wardens. At the bare minimum, there should be one fire warden on each floor, for each shift. Considerations should also be given for holidays and covered shifts for sicknesses or vacations.
You must provide fire training so that employees can respond appropriately to the alarm ringing. This includes situations when an employee should sound the alarm if it doesn’t go off automatically. This training includes fire hazard prevention measures, such as spotting and reporting problems, as good housekeeping practices. Training should also include the different types of fires, fire extinguishers, and how to correctly use them. Hotel training should familiarize the staff of all types with fire escape routes and locations for people to assemble during the evacuation phase. All employees should know who are the appointed fire wardens and when they have to fulfill that role.
Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems
A hotel's fire detection and alarm system are legally mandated. It’s your responsibility to ensure that manual call points are installed throughout the building in easy-to-spot locations. If the staff can find these manual call points without any trouble, then they can activate them more efficiently if a fire or fire damage is observed or reported.
Smoke detectors should be inspected monthly at a minimum. Manual call points should be tested weekly during normal business hours. Alarms throughout the hotel should be loud enough to immediately wake up guests and alert hotel staff of the fire hazard. Room alarms close to the head of the bed should ring around 75dB. Hotel guests must immediately wake up and begin evacuation efforts in the event of a fire. This is because guests can suffocate from unsuspectingly inhaling smoke while asleep, even post-evacuation.
A competent employee with technician experience or an external contractor should periodically check equipment and conduct necessary repairs.
Some items that should be inspected include:
• Kitchen appliances
• Fire doors
• Firefighting equipment
• Plug sockets
Make sure to keep maintenance and repair records. They serve as proof that your hotel is in compliance and inform you of upcoming servicing and checks.
Escape Route Plans
Escape routes should be positioned in ways that ensure that anyone can safely reach them even if the fire blocks out a different path.
Escape routes should:
• Be enclosed with smoke- and fire-resistant materials
• Be obstruction-free
• Be accessible for those with disabilities
• Remain closed as much as possible to prevent the spread of smoke and fire
Fire Evacuation Plans
For hotels, one of two evacuation plans are typically used:
• Simultaneous evacuation: small, uncomplicated hotels have alarm systems that warn all rooms and floors to evacuate simultaneously.
• Horizontal/Vertical phased evacuation: for more complex hotel structures, the system is designed to sound alarms and evacuate those who are in immediate danger first.
Your risk assessment and your local fire service can inform you if you need more information.
Informing Guests of Fire Safety
Your hotel guests should be immediately informed of manual call points and escape routes. Fire safety information forms for guests should clarify:
• Steps to take if the guest sees a fire or if the guest hears the alarm.
• The closest fire exit route from their hotel room & a floor plan.
• The closest assembly point location.
SERVPRO of Winter Park
In the event of a hotel fire, reach out to SERVPRO of Winter Park, serving the Orlando, FL area. SERVPRO of Winter Park can manage fire damage restoration projects at commercial levels for hotels or resorts.