A Calgary-based Denny’s restaurant was recently fined $4,600 for not ensuring its fire protection equipment was properly maintained.
The surprising thing was the restaurant was having their fire equipment inspected regularly, however they hired an unqualified company.
The fire service company is well-known in Alberta and, in July 2019, was charged with conducting uncertified fire suppression equipment inspections. The company and its employees had a total of 65 charges laid against them.
Charges for fire code violations were also laid against several other retailers that used the company’s services. This included using “unqualified and uncertified persons” for installation, which resulted in fines under the Alberta Fire Code.
How to tell if the company servicing your fire protection equipment is qualified?
Fire protection devices are often the first line of defence while waiting for the fire department to arrive. They protect people, property and process based on fire and building codes. Smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems reduce the risk that:
- property is damaged
- expensive equipment is destroyed, and
- people could be hurt or die.
In our post ‘The Most Surprising Places You’ll Find a Fire Suppression System‘ we covered that fire suppression systems are installed because of legal requirement or previous experience.
Using an uncertified company to service your system is a safety risk to your workforce, your infrastructure and the public around you. There is also a financial risk to your company for using unqualified and uncertified individuals.
Question 1: What fire protection services do you offer?
The fire products and services a company offers are a big part of deciding to work with a company or not.
Some companies only focus on servicing portable fire extinguishers. Other companies only focus on servicing fire sprinklers and alarms. If you don’t ask the prospective company what they service, you may end up spending more time and money having to find a second company to fill in the gaps.
For example, the fire protection services Levitt-Safety offers include:
- Fire suppression systems
- sprinkler systems
- clean agent
- engineered fire suppression
- pre-engineered fire suppression
- Fire equipment services
- emergency lighting and exit signs
- fire extinguisher services
- fire hoses
- fire alarms
- Vehicle fire suppression systems
Make sure the company you choose can provide service that meets your needs before you sign a contract.
Question 2: What certifications do you have?
Every province in Canada has its own requirements for certification.
For instance, to service special hazard fire suppression systems in Alberta, the fire code states:
- Only qualified persons shall install special fire suppression systems when they have acquired a certificate of training from a manufacturer.
- Only qualified persons shall test or perform maintenance on a special fire suppression system when:
- they have acquired an approved certificate of training from a public post‐secondary educational institution, or
- they have acquired a certificate of training from a manufacturer.
Your fire protection service provider should be able to provide proof that they have manufacturer training, as should the manufacturer.
If your business operates in multiple provinces, each one must meet its specific provincial codes and requirements.
Since Levitt-Safety has a national presence, we have strong knowledge of each province’s fire code requirements. We ensure that the service we provide will meet your province’s fire and building codes.
Question 3: How is your record keeping?
How well a fire protection service provider stores their service records can be a deciding factor about whether you should work with them or not.
Many fire suppression systems need servicing on an annual or semi-annual basis.
Your service provider should automatically schedule the next maintenance or inspection date.
Digital record keeping is commonplace in many industries in 2020. Yet many safety service providers still use paper systems for record keeping. When documenting inspections, your service provider should be able to email you the notes and documentations if you ask or have a secure portal that allows you to access the information online.
When your fire equipment is serviced by Levitt-Safety, we can send the documentation to you within 24 hours to keep on file and can offer you optional portal with detailed history of our services on each piece of your equipment. We can also set up your next servicing the same day.
Question 4: How much does your service cost?
Don’t be afraid to ask a company how much their service costs.
- If a price tag is too good to be true, it probably is.
- If a price tag seems too high, find out what services are included.
Your potential fire service provider should be able to map out what their service includes and what type of service you can expect and the fire suppression products they offer.
You can also ask about value added services — what is available, what is included in the price you’re paying and what is treated as extra. This question can help understand the potential hidden value in higher prices.
Finding a trained and qualified fire safety service provider:
The big take away from this incident is that it’s not only the company providing the service who is liable, the customer hiring their services must do their due diligence.
Your potential fire equipment service provider should have no problem answering these four questions. They should be able to provide proof of certification and a clear understanding of your province’s fire and building codes.
Along with the fine, the Denny’s restaurant in Calgary also had to hire a new fire protection services company to reinspect all of their affected restaurants and perform fire protection services to meet the Alberta Fire Code compliance requirements.
$4,600 was considered a minimum fine because Denny’s immediately terminated their contract with the company and had their equipment reinspected.
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