By Nick Rappley
Patterson Fire Department officials are offering tips on how to avoid fire code violations and repeat visits from fire inspectors to fix those problems.
Patterson Fire Prevention Officer Carrie Silveira said this week that during fire inspections of local businesses, she and Patterson firefighters are finding common mistakes.
“The way we do business and the way we live in our houses are two different things,” Silveira said. “Sometimes people just don’t think about this.”
One common problem appears to be the use of extension cords in a business. Leaving them plugged in constantly is a no-no and a fire hazard, she said.
Power strips with a circuit breaker protection can be used in place of the extension cords, she said.
Multiple door locks are also a code violation, she said.
“In a business you need to have an easy way out for people to exit during a fire or emergency,” she said. The doors must not be obstructed with storage or other materials in front of them.
Fire extinguishers need to be checked and tagged by a service professional annually and fire suppression systems at restaurants must be checked every six months, Patterson Fire Division Chief Jeff Gregory said.
Address numbers are a big issue. Firefighters need to be able to find them easily to find where the emergency is, Silveira said.
“The numbers must be clear and visible from the street,” she said.
Other common problems include maintenance of fire alarms and exit signs. Annual and five-year testing reports should be made to the inspector, she said, and exit signs should be visible and lit at all times.
Gregory said that while leeway can be provided in other types of cases, fire inspections are not one of them.
“You can’t be flexible from one person to the next,” he said. “We stick by the rules for the safety of the people.”
Gregory said people’s lives are at stake, business owners, the public and firefighters.
Silveira said the department is good about working with folks to get violations corrected and that businesses should expect a visit about once a year to check up. If there are corrections needed the fire inspectors, who could pop in any time for the initial inspection will follow up in about three weeks to see if the issues have been resolved.
“Our business is not to put others out of business or cost them money,” she said. “But we do have a responsibility that when we see something wrong to get it corrected.”
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