Although they are not fire safety experts, facility managers and building owners are often tasked with keeping their properties compliant. According to the US Fire Administration, 2021 national estimates for nonresidential building include 116,500 fires, which tragically resulted in 115 deaths and 1,025 injuries. These properties also experienced $3,697,200,000 in dollar loss. Additionally, the overall trend for nonresidential building fires and losses over a 10-year period (2012 to 2021) shows a 20% increase in fires.
In an effort to reduce incidents and maintain compliance with regulations, while simultaneously keeping costs under control, building and facilities managers and owners are increasingly turning toward the centralization of fire safety system inspections, testing and maintenance (ITM).
Centralized fire protection programs offer some fundamental benefits, including the management of fire safety systems across multiple locations from a corporate level. This provides greater visibility and tracking of critical systems. In addition, maintenance records and test results for all locations can be maintained at a central location that is accessible through a secure Internet connection instead of at each individual location, allowing easier access during audits or inquiries from Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs).
Greater Accessibility and Tracking of ITM Activities
Many of the adopted fire protection codes have provisions that hold the building owner responsible for the proper inspections, testing, and maintenance of onsite fire protection systems such as fire sprinklers, alarms, and extinguishers. When owners and managers operate multiple locations across many states, the needed tracking of ITM activities at each location for proper risk management can prove to be a daunting task.
In the past, a local approach has been one of the most common solutions. Using a single building method, each location manager is responsible for the proper maintenance of his or her fire protection systems, as well as the maintenance of the correct, required documentation of these services. (A modified regional model performs the same basic functions for all locations within a designated region or state.)
However, if there is a problem with a fire safety system or a fire loss event, a company’s main office may not have immediate access to important ITM dates of inspection, any testing performed, or maintenance needs previously cited. And, if all of the records are located onsite where the fire loss occurred, there may be a significant delay until duplicates can be obtained from the fire protection service provider.
With a centralized system, all ITM records are retained by the provider in a customer portal. This is beneficial because all stakeholders can retrieve the data 24/7/365, from any location. The customer portal can provide access to inspection and repair reports, work orders and completion information, plus detailed spend information. This instant access can greatly speed up necessary reporting and may also alleviate time-consuming issues with the request of records by an AHJ.
Improved Budgeting and Negotiating
In addition to improved access, centralization of ITM activities can significantly help control cost factors. Using a centralized customer portal enables a corporate office to stay apprised of services needed by location, repair timelines, and equipment updates, keeping budgets in check. This type of centralization even allows service schedules to be adjusted, so that expenses can be balanced throughout the year.
When managing multiple sites, centralization can also provide leverage when negotiating with service providers. The number of locations often factors in heavily for a provider, who may be able to offer a quantity discount based on an expanded coverage area and logistics scheduling.
One Call for All Your Fire Safety Needs
When utilizing a centralized fire and life safety reporting system, both individual facility managers and the corporate office can use a single phone number for all fire protection services, regardless of location. The streamlined process is more efficient, saving time and alleviating any confusion regarding which provider offers what service.
This also allows a seamless transition as building managers and other associates may move from one location to another.
Data Reporting Remains Consistent Across Locations
Just as fire and life safety providers vary widely across the country, reporting methods do as well. Inconsistent quality, thoroughness, and accurate documentation of ITM services between various locations may generate exposure and litigation risk in the aftermath of a fire event. A centralized system eliminates potential reporting data variation between locations or providers.
While abandoning the single facility reporting method for ITM services may initially require a change in thinking, the benefits of centralization far outweigh any initial growing pains. Forward-thinking facility managers and owners can take advantage of economies of scale and keep rising costs at bay, while ensuring the most accurate, up-to-the-minute reporting.
About Telgian Fire Safety
Since 1985, Telgian has served as a trusted partner to clients around the globe, providing innovative solutions and keeping facilities safe, compliant and on budget. Telgian’s expertise includes testing, inspections and repair (ITM) of fire and life safety systems such as fire sprinklers, fire alarms, extinguishers, emergency and exit lights, clean agent systems and special hazards. The company also provides fire alarm and elevator monitoring.
Telgian services multi-location properties, as well as large single-campus facilities. The company services approximately 50,000 locations annually throughout the US and abroad, providing a centralized approach and standardized way for clients to manage an FLS program. Telgian offers inventory tracking, capital replacement programs for fire protection and life safety systems, budgeting and forecasting.