Cost vs. Confidence

It’s an ongoing discussion: if you’re already paying a fire alarm company to come in once a year to do your annual inspection and the fire department isn’t asking for anything more, why should you spend more money on your life safety?

After all, the bells still work, even if some folks can’t hear them that well….

The emergency lights work most of the time, as long as there hasn’t been a recent power outage or annual test that drained the batteries….

The fire safety plan in the box at the front door hasn’t been looked at — ever — let alone been updated, but no one is asking you to do that….

You don’t know what a Fire Safety Director is — or what they’re supposed to do — but, again, no one said you had to, so no problem, right???

The reality is that, while the fire department is there for you during an emergency, it is the Owners who are responsible for the ensuring that the life safety systems in their buildings are operational every day of the year and that all of the required testing, inspection, and maintenance is being done to B.C. Fire Code standards.

Many think, often quietly in their own minds — or more loudly to sway other Owners during budget debates — that it isn’t necessary:

  • to conduct the Code-required inspections and testing on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, or
  • to maintain their systems to the Code standards or upgrade when they begin to fail, or
  • to assign a trained Fire Safety Director to oversee their Code responsibilities throughout the year.

They believe that these requirements are at best a hassle and, at worst, an unwanted or unwarranted expense. After all no one, including the fire department and their fire alarm company, has ever told them they “had to do it”, so they begin to believe that they are somehow exempt from having to comply with the Codes.

However, when there is a fire or an emergency, those who survive are grateful for the diligence of the annual inspectors and the fire departments, the focus and attentiveness of a dedicated and trained Fire Safety Directorship service, and the foresight of the Council that encouraged the Owners to invest money in the life safety services that saved their lives. They’re also thankful that insurance companies, seeing that the Council was showing due diligence in all aspects of the building’s life safety requirements, are more likely to take care of everyone’s claims without a hitch.

The choice is up to you as Owners: shirk the cost and save a bit in the short term or invest in the life safety of your Owners and building and enhance the confidence that things will work when you absolutely need them.

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