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Stories from the Field: Never Postpone Your Maintenance

“One of the worst scenarios I’ve ever seen was when we found a dry valve with no air pressure on the topside of valve, but 100 psi of water pressure on the bottom side of the valve. The property management team had not tested the dry valve in years and the clapper was rusted shut, meaning if there was a fire on that system and a head popped, there’d be no way for the water to flow through the dry valve.”

Larry Hatt, Integrity Fire’s COO

 

When it comes to postponed system testing and maintenance, we’ve seen it all. All the unnecessary damage and expense to businesses that didn’t set a high priority on fire system maintenance.

 

The Bad News

Another tragic disaster report of recent years comes from England, the 2017 Grenfell apartment building fire: A vent system designed to keep the building smoke-free during a fire failed — just two days before the blaze — so automated vents did not open as designed. The failure hampered firefighters from moving around the building to fight the fire and hampered the residents escape. This and other failures lead to 72 unnecessary deaths.
Denver doesn’t have many large ferries in our neighborhood, but we can still learn from the Caribbean Fantasy, which caught fire off Puerto Rico in 2016. Quick-closing fuel and lubrication valves were blocked (intentionally) in the open position. Most people wouldn’t think of a fuel valve as part of the fire prevention system, but anything that could accelerate or hinder a fire should be on the inspection and maintenance list. The NTSB investigation also showed that other onboard fire safety systems failed and the Fantasy turned into a nightmare when more than 500 passengers and crew had to abandon the ship. No deaths resulted but 45 people — nearly one in ten! — had to be treated for major and minor injuries ashore. Baja Ferries, the operator, was left with $20 million in direct damage losses (ultimately, the ship was scrapped as a total loss) with several hundred lawsuits still pending. The passengers and crew were lucky to survive, company may not be so lucky.

There’s no sense in prolonging your testing and any subsequent repairs. Picture yourself taking that call that your building is on fire. Now ask yourself “Is my fire protection systems up to par.” Knowing the answer is “yes” to that question means that the building and its occupants have all the best possible chances to escape unharmed, and means that you have all the proof and answers needed in the impending investigation.

 

The Good News

We could fill many campfire nights with fire disaster stories that’ll have you sharing your sleeping bag with the biggest extinguisher you can find! Better though, to calm your fears. Integrity Fire Safety Services provides thorough testing and inspection services to ensure that your building’s alarm and sprinkler systems are fully functional at all times. We offer 24-hour emergency service with a 2-hour emergency response guarantee. We provide comprehensive monitoring services. From small tenant improvement projects to high-rise retrofits, our team can handle design, installation, testing, maintenance, repair and customer training, all backed by a vast knowledge of local fire codes and national industry standards.
You know your business, we know ours — it’s a legendary partnership in the making.