The weather is getting colder and that means one thing, people will soon start turning on their heating, sometimes for the first time in 6-8 months. It also coincides with the highest period of fires during the year, other than the 4th of July and New Year’s, and many of them are preventable.
Turning on heating can cause fires for a number of reasons, but taking the steps to reduce the causes can protect your tenants, your property, and your investment.
Boiler or Furnace Inspection
Have a twice yearly or yearly inspection of your apartment’s heat source, at least once in the fall, and optionally once in the spring. This ensures that the furnace is up to running all winter. It also allows technicians to check the thermostat, wiring, and the seals on the vents and ventilation. If a hazard exists, they can fix it, and negate the problem before it becomes one. Yearly inspections are incredibly important because seals can get lose, causing leaks, wires can come lose, especially in a basement or attic used for storage and become spark and therefore fire hazards. In a storage area, checking to make sure that items are not too close the furnace is also important because they can catch fire. A technical inspection to make sure that everything is working properly helps with avoiding machinery or electrical related fires.
Some boiler or furnace inspections will include a ventilation inspection, but you may have to pay for this separately. You want to make sure that the ventilation is clean, not blocked, and allows heat to safely travel through the house or apartment. An annual cleaning can also improve efficiency because it removes dust and other debris that blocks airflow.
Installing fire safety devices such as sprinklers in the boiler or furnace room can help to reduce the risk of a fire. You should also take the time to swap out the batteries on carbon monoxide and smoke alarms, and double check with tenants to ensure that they are familiar with fire policies. Check fire escape routes, check the expiration dates on fire extinguishers on the premises, and inspect the exterior of chimneys and ventilation systems to ensure that flammable materials such as leaves have not blocked or built up around the exit.
Fire safety is important, especially in the winter when people use more heating. Keeping tenants informed, inspecting heating equipment, and inspecting the premises can help reduce fires. Eastside Fire & Rescue offers multiple resources, including fire safety training. Encouraging tenants to attend programs, and read safety sheets can also be helpful. Most importantly, these are all free, and only require time investment.
Fire safety is an important part of your property management, but like everything else, it can be time consuming, and difficult to know where to look for resources. If you need help, Sammamish property management company SJA can help. Contact us to learn more.