How Forgoing Fire Escape Maintenance Can Be a Matter of Life or Death

There are a lot of maintenance tasks landlords must keep up with if they are to create safe premises for their tenants. For buildings with exterior fire escapes, it is crucial that San Francisco, CA landlords not forgo regular inspections and necessary maintenance to mitigate risks from old fire escapes and ensure they are safe for use in emergency situations. A failure to do so could result in deadly accidents, especially involving taller buildings.

You can find a variety of news stories online detailing incidents of fire escapes separating from a building, or steps becoming dislodged during usage, resulting in either a collapse of the fire escape, a fall off the fire escape or a piece of metal hurtling down to the sidewalk or street below, where it could kill someone.

It’s important to be proactive with fire escape maintenance, and not just operate on a pass/fail basis. While it’s good to stay on top of inspections, landlords should constantly ask themselves what they can do to guarantee the safety of the equipment, and keep track of the specific maintenance steps they’ve taken each year beyond just having an inspector come out and give a passing or failing grade.

Here are just a few issues for landlords to consider when thinking about and planning for fire escape maintenance:

  • Age and general condition: A lot of the maintenance steps you take will be influenced by the age and general condition of the fire escape. This will determine when you need to start thinking about replacing it, and will likely influence the kinds of repairs you’ll need to make. You’ll be able to plan ahead based on the age and general condition of the equipment to make sure you keep it in good, usable condition for years to come.
  • Maintenance steps you’ve been taking: What have you already been doing to maintain the fire escape? For example, have you lubricated any moving parts, such as a drop ladder? Did you paint or coat the fire escape recently to make sure the metal is properly protected against the elements and rust buildup? Do you regularly remove leaves, snow, ice and other debris to prevent the fire escape from getting overly heavy? Do you remove debris buildup in the wire grates? If you’re already doing these things, great! If not, it’s time to get started.
  • Access to the fire escape: You should make sure all tenants in your building are able to easily access the fire escape from their windows. Screens should be easily removable, and the windows should be easy to open. Metal bars must be approved by the fire department.
  • Child safety: If you have three or more units and any children under the age of 10 living on the property, you are required to have child safety guards. Just make sure they do not block the fire escape window.
  • Tenant usage: How are tenants using your fire escape? It’s best to discourage use of the fire escape for anything other than emergencies. It’s common for people to keep potted plants, bikes or even furniture out on the fire escape, but all of this adds to the weight of the fire escape and creates obstructions that could get in the way of an orderly evacuation. Plus, usage in this manner may be illegal.

For more information about the risks of unmaintained fire escapes in San Francisco, CA and what you can do to eliminate some of those risks with professional fire escape service, contact Great Escape Fire Escape Service today.

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