We are committed to the safety of all our citizens and visitors to our community. As required by Oregon Law (ORS, OAR) Fire Departments must perform a regular inspection of the businesses in its jurisdiction. Some types of businesses (occupancies such as schools and those that deal with hazardous materials) must be inspected more frequently than others. To accomplish this, we have a Survey Program that is designed to keep our community safe.
A survey is conducted generally without advance notice, although owners may elect to request a return of the team at a more convenient time if the survey would disrupt operations. In this case, an appointment can be made. Appointments are also available proactively or if a business (or homeowner) wish to have us inspect something specific.
A survey includes obtaining the current contact information of the building owners and managers so we know who to reach in the case of an emergency. We may also conduct a pre-fire survey where we make note of the building footprint and all utilities. We will generally need someone from the business to escort us around the property (to open locked doors, etc.). Once we are done, we will compile any deficiencies and email a list of repairs needed. We will give time for the repairs to be completed before a re-inspection occurs - that will be determined at the time of the inspection.
These surveys are not meant to be punitive in nature - they are opportunities for education and to ensure the provision of a safe environment for employees and the public. We work with our business and home owners to find a solution that is workable and safe.
For any questions about the Survey Program, or to set up an appointment for a Business or Home Survey, please contact Captain Rich Saalsaa by email (Rich.Saalsaa@PhilomathFire.com) or phone (541-360-0029). His office hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 8 AM to 6 PM.
COMMON INSPECTION ISSUES
Our staff find that the following fire codes are frequently violated in commercial and multi-family buildings. To increase your safety, you may want to inspect your own building for these common problems before our survey team arrives. The team will also look for compliance with fire codes specific to your type of business or operation.
1. Provide approved address identification for building including suite or unit numbers (letters), plainly visible and contrasting to background color.
It is important that your address be visible from the street fronting your property. Suite or Unit numbers/letters should also be plainly visible. For larger complexes or buildings set back from the street, additional signs may be necessary if emergency responders are dispatched to an address. If the address does not readily identify the property location, precious time may be lost time that can save lives. Address numbers should be at least 4" tall and have a contrasted color to the background.
2. Remove obstructions and/or combustible material from exit-ways, stairways, fire escapes, and from around heat-generating sources.
The safest way out of your place of business in an emergency is through the exits. Make sure that storage and merchandise are kept clear of exits and exit paths (stairs and landings, and halls leading to an exit). Combustible storage needs to be kept out of the boiler, electrical, furnace, elevator and laundry rooms. Propane cylinders larger than one pound cannot be stored inside a building. Fuels must be stored in an approved fire cabinet.
3. Secondary exits must be clearly marked; ensure that illuminated exit signs are fully lit at all times.
Generally all exits except the main entrance are required to have an ‘EXIT’ sign. If there are lighted exit signs, all bulbs must be illuminated when the building is occupied. Replace bulbs or batteries and check the operation of emergency lighting to ensure that they will work in the event of an emergency. If there are emergency lights in the ceiling, these also must be maintained so that if the power goes out, these lights will operate correctly.
4. Repair fire doors to their automatic self-closing and latching condition. Remove all wedges and door stops.
Doors that have self-closing devices are designed to keep fire and smoke from spreading to other areas of the building. Wedges and door stops that hold these doors open reduce your chances of escape in the event of a fire. This practice allows for more rapid spread of fire and smoke throughout the building and increases the amount of fire damage. Repair any door that does not securely latch, or is difficult to open.
5. Discontinue use of extension cords and multi-plug adapters. (UL listed multiple-outlet strips with circuit breakers are acceptable).
Extension cords are designed only for use with portable appliances (eg. drill, buffer, grinder) not in place of permanent wiring. Multi-plug adapters are never allowed. The use of extension cords and non-approved, multi-plug adapters may overload the electrical circuit capacity and has been shown to be a major cause of fire. UL listed multiple-outlet strips with built in circuit breaker protection are allowed in lieu of extension cords. These outlet strips must plug directly into the wall outlet and the appliance must plug into the outlet strip.
6. Provide cover plates to all open electrical boxes and switches, no taping of switches or breakers.
To confine potential arcing to within the safety of the outlet and junction boxes, replace all missing and damaged cover plates. Do not use tape to prevent any switch or breaker from moving (wall switches and electrical panel breakers in particular) - these may contribute to causing a fire or electrocution.
7. Maintain 30” clearance in front of, and clear access to, all electrical panels.
Clearance around and access to your electrical panels allows firefighters to access circuit breakers quickly in case of emergency. If your panels are in an enclosed room, provide permanent signage (i.e. “Electrical Room”) to indicate location.
8. Inspect fire extinguisher(s) monthly, maintain written log, and provide annual service.
Annual maintenance by a certified company is required for portable fire extinguishers. Hoods used in cooking must also be inspected and regularly cleaned. Hood extinguisher systems must be checked every six (6) months.
9. No breaks in the walls or ceiling.
Walls and ceilings are often constructed to prevent the spread of fire (fire walls). Holes in walls or ceilings must be repaired. All ceiling tiles in suspended ceilings must be in place and fit snugly around any penetrations. Any penetrations by electrical or plumbing pipes must be caulked with approved fire-resistive material.
10. Maintain and keep clear all Fire Lanes.
Outside Fire Department Sprinkler Connections and Fire Lanes must be kept free of obstructions, and must be well maintained (paint, signs). Fire Lanes are a 24/7 operation in all locations (including school functions after hours). People parking in a Fire Lane may be ticketed and towed at the owner's expense.
In addition to business surveys, we also provide a free service that we can conduct at your residence. Items we cover on surveys include (but not limited to):
- Fire Extinguisher size, placement, and training in its use
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detector placement, and training in checking those devices (replacement batteries available, smoke detectors available for people who cannot afford one)
- Defensible space around a home (Wildland areas)
- E.D.I.T.H. (Exit Drills In The Home) - creating an emergency escape place for the family
- Falls prevention - looking at ways to help prevent falls in and around the house