Effective Fire Prevention: Top 8 Fire Safety Tips & Best Practices for Property Owners & Managers

Effective Fire Prevention: Top 8 Fire Safety Tips & Best Practices for Property Owners & Managers

Ensuring that your building and fire protection systems are legally compliant helps protect your property from considerable damage and prevents loss of lives in case of fire emergencies.

Landlords and property managers are responsible for creating a safe workplace and living space for their employees and residents. This starts with following fire codes, laws, and regulations that are specific to your business or property. Here are fire prevention tips and best practices for property management to guide you in staying compliant with applicable fire safety requirements. Thus, preventing costly violations and liabilities in addition to protecting your valuable assets in the event of fire outbreaks.

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Comply with fire safety codes and perform a risk assessment

#1. Comply With Local & State Fire Codes

The first step is to familiarize yourself with local and state fire codes applicable to your building. Aside from avoiding violations, this will help in filing insurance claims easier for you in case of fire damage. Not following fire safety requirements can lead to violations in your insurance policy terms and your claim might end up getting rejected due to landlord negligence.

Local fire codes that you should be aware of include the following:

  • Number of required smoke detectors
  • Sprinkler system & fire extinguisher requirements
  • Fire protection system placement and maintenance requirements
  • Emergency evacuation requirements (escape routes and exits)

#2. Perform a Fire Safety Risk Assessment

Fire safety risk assessments can identify potential fire hazards in your property which will help in creating an effective fire prevention strategy. The assessment involves the following steps:

  • Identifying fire hazards (e.g. faulty electrical equipment, flammable materials, etc.)
  • Identifying who are most at risk (e.g. people with disabilities and mobility issues) and how to protect them
  • Actions to take to mitigate identified hazards (e.g. by installing fire protection systems)
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of existing fire safety procedures
  • Devising a fire safety plan
  • Providing fire safety training to employees
  • Recording your findings during the risk assessment

You should also review your fire risk assessment regularly to accommodate any changes that may impact the effectiveness of your fire safety plan.

#3. Install Adequate Fire Safety Equipment Properly

Install Adequate Fire Safety Equipment Properly

Install appropriate fire protection equipment that meets your building’s or business’s needs at the right locations. The most important fire safety devices that you should have include fire extinguishers, fire sprinkler and alarm systems, and smoke detectors.

Fire Extinguishers

Install enough fire extinguishers of the right type and size depending on the hazards present in the location. They should be visible as well as readily accessible and available. You can read more about location requirements and different class fire hazards in the NFPA’s blog here.

Fire Sprinklers

Fire sprinkler systems can significantly minimize the impacts of fire on your property by preventing it from spreading until your local fire department personnel arrive. This also gives building occupants enough time to evacuate safely which reduces the risk of deaths. Consider installing fire blankets, too, as an additional precaution alongside fire extinguishers. These are useful in extinguishing small fires in kitchens.

Also Read: Things Every Property Manager Should Know About Fire Sprinkler Systems In Safeguarding Their Properties

Smoke Alarms & Detectors

Smoke alarms and detectors are important in proactively preventing fire hazards, especially in rental properties. Again, there may be specific local requirements on smoke alarm installation which you need to check to ensure that you are installing adequate smoke alarms in your building. In addition, carbon monoxide detectors may also be required to maximize safety.

#4. Inspect, Test, & Maintain Your Fire Safety Equipment Regularly

Inspect, Test, & Maintain Your Fire Safety Equipment Regularly

Regular testing and maintenance of fire protection systems is another requirement by the law which should be done by certified individuals. You should make sure that your fire safety devices are working properly and are up to standards. There are also requirements regarding how often you should maintain specific types of fire safety devices. But in general, it should be done at least once a year.

NOTE: Always document your inspections including the precautions you’ve made to protect yourself from future legal matters and insurance claims.

A few things to note when maintaining fire safety equipment are:

  • We recommend inspecting fire extinguishers at least weekly to check for signs of damage and leakage.
  • Fire extinguishers should be replaced every 12 years. Additional maintenance requirements (e.g. hydrostatic tests) aside from monthly and annual maintenance will depend on the type of the device.
  • It is best to change the batteries of your smoke detectors and alarms every 6 months and inspect them weekly. You can leave this task to your tenants, but make sure to double-check the devices yourself in case some tenants have forgotten to do so.
  • Other fire protection devices you need to inspect and maintain are fire sprinklers, fire doors, signages, and emergency lighting in escape routes.

Other specific checks you might want to do include the following:

  • Battery powers and expiration
  • Circuitry issues
  • Switches and bulbs
  • Alarm audibility
  • Alarm panel functions
  • Fire door handles and hinges

Also Read: 7 Top Fire Risks & Consequences of Inadequate Fire Protection Systems

#5. Create a Fire Safety Plan

Create a Fire Safety Plan

Multifamily property managers should take the creation of a comprehensive fire safety plan seriously. A fire can easily spread throughout your building and can lead to catastrophic damage that can compromise the lives of countless people. This is why creating an effective evacuation plan, which is part of your fire safety plan, is crucial in ensuring the safety of your property and the people inside.

Below are helpful tips for creating a comprehensive fire safety plan:

  • Install clear and bright exit signages including emergency lighting to make evacuations easier.
  • Ensure that hallways, walkways, stairwells, fire doors, windows, exits, and escape routes are unobstructed.
  • Create an evacuation map highlighting escape routes and evacuation exits that are specific to where the tenants are located. The map should allow them to escape through the nearest exit quickly.
  • Consider vulnerable persons (disabled individuals and the elderly) when creating your evacuation plan.
  • Include emergency numbers and your contact information when posting escape plans.
  • Review your evacuation plan with your tenants and educate them on how to behave and evacuate safely and properly during emergencies. It is best if they know the basics of using fire extinguishers too.
  • Train your employees regarding fire safety. They should understand their roles and responsibilities during emergencies.
  • Practice your evacuation plan with your tenants regularly.

Store combustibles & flammables properly | Inspect & Replace Faulty Electrical Equipment & Fixtures

#6. Store Combustibles & Flammables Properly

Do not store combustible and flammable materials near heat sources. Consider the following storage tips for flammable and combustible liquids/gasses:

  • Use NFPA-approved cylinders, cabinets, and containers instead of open shelving.
  • Only use freezers and/or refrigerators that are approved for storing combustible/flammable liquids.
  • Store them in special rooms that are designed for flammable/combustible materials.
  • Put signages to inform individuals about the hazards associated with the materials. Add a “No Smoking” signage too.
  • Ensure that there are no excessive heat and ignition sources.
  • Avoid storing them near staircases and exit paths.

#7. Inspect & Replace Faulty Electrical Equipment & Fixtures

Electrical fires are among the top causes of fires that have caused billions of property damages. Faulty electrical fixtures and equipment not only cause fire hazards but also lead to building code violations. This makes preventive maintenance for electrical equipment in large multi-family residential complexes and commercial buildings important.

Here are tips to promote electrical safety:

  • Inspect electrical outlets, switches, and cords including electrical appliances regularly
  • Do not overload outlets and extension cords
  • Unplug appliances that are not being used
  • Check vents for debris buildup

Also Read: 6 Things Landlords Should Do After a Fire in a Rental Property

#8. Establish House Rules to Prevent Accidental Fires

Establish House Rules to Prevent Accidental Fires

Smoking, grilling, use of candles, and open space heating are other top causes of fires in rental properties aside from electricals. Establishing fire safety rules for open flames, smoking, and others can greatly reduce the risk of fires in your building. You should explain these rules to your tenants and include them in your lease agreements.

Consider the following when establishing house rules:

  • Implement a smoking policy. You can either prohibit smoking completely or designate smoking and non-smoking areas.
  • You can prohibit grilling. But if you allow it, make sure to let your tenants know about the best grilling practices that they should follow.
  • Instruct your tenants to keep their cooking areas clean, be careful when frying food to avoid grease buildup, and unplug small appliances when not in use.
  • Tenants should not put items that can easily burn near heating equipment.
  • Consider a non-candle policy.

In addition, you should also encourage your tenants to report potential issues to you.

Other Tips for Property Managers

  • Use fire-resistant materials in your building including fireproofed walls and furnishings.
  • Get a landlord insurance policy to protect yourself from future liabilities. Choose one that covers not only property damage but also tenant relocation costs and other potential financial losses.
  • Require your tenants to get renter’s insurance. This will help in avoiding potential lawsuits and in protecting yourself from invalid claims made by your tenants in case of fire damage. It will also help with expenses that are not covered by your insurance policy such as your tenants’ personal belongings.

Also Read:


Do you need fire blankets?

Fire blankets can be used in kitchens in addition to fire extinguishers to put out small fires before they cause greater damage. Consider having them especially if you have elderly people in your rental property.

What is a fire safety management strategy?

Fire safety plans are detailed documents that contain all information regarding fire safety on your property. They include details such as the roles and responsibilities of each employee, emergency procedures, fire safety and prevention measures, maintenance procedures, and others.

Whose responsibility is fire protection in the workplace? Is fire safety the manager’s responsibility?

All employees should be responsible for fire prevention in the workplace. However, managers (including employers, landlords, and building owners) should take the lead in ensuring fire safety in their area of responsibility.


Building owners, property managers, and landlords can be held liable for any damage caused by fire in their properties when it is found that their negligence caused the fire. Negligence includes not following building codes and not doing anything to mitigate potential fire risks on their property. Following fire safety laws and regulations is important in saving yourself from costly liabilities.

Maximize safety and security in your property through Scout Security’s professional fire watch services in Colorado. We help you comply with fire safety laws and regulations, especially during the maintenance of your fire protection system and hot work activities. Contact us now!

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