fire house and fire extinguisher

Residential Fire Essentials: Keeping Your Rental Property Away from Fire

While wildfires all across America happen in the summer months, home fires are a different breed. Of course, the heat of the sun plays a huge role in fires spreading in the open woodlands, such as those in California. If you’re not careful, however, fires can gut your residence. The Los Angeles Fire Department alone receives as many as 500 fire incident reports in a year or about two on a normal day. Many of these are due to cooking — more specifically, unattended cooking, as American Red Cross data show.

The problem with fire is not only damage to property. Over a thousand lives in America are lost primarily due to fire yearly, and with this, over $14 billion worth of property gets damaged. Of course, all of this rises to a new level when you’re managing a real estate rental property. Fire is not only able to damage your rental space, but it can also pull you down, turning your business into ashes.

What’s worse, you and your property manager can find yourselves in hot water. When a fire breaks out in your rental business, you could be open to lawsuits and a host of liabilities if your fire prevention measures are sorely lacking.

While fire safety rules from one state to the next may not be the same, you can actually count on a few fire safety tips that are considered essential. Here’s a quick look at what you should follow to put risk and liability to the utmost minimum.

Know the Fire Hazards

Let’s face it. You really can’t contain fire incidences in your area if you don’t look into potential fire hazards in your rental place. While it could be tempting to speculate, data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) should help shed light on this matter. The top causes of fire at home, according to the federal agency, are:

  • Smoking
  • Candles
  • Electrical
  • Heating
  • Cooking

burnt house

The biggest fire safety hazard is cooking. However, do take note that smoking is the leading cause in terms of civilian deaths in home fires.

You must therefore assess your situation. Arming your tenants and your property against these leading causes of fire would be wise.

Connect with Local Fire Departments and Know Local Fire Regulations

If it’s about knowing what’s best, getting data straight from the authorities is wise. Know that it’s never safe to assume, as local regulations to fire safety can be different in distinct localities. What is applicable in your city may not be applicable in another.

A good example here is smoke alarms. Some cities require that each rental room have a smoke alarm, while others recommend it on specific rooms of the rental property. To be sure, ask a fire inspector or your local government about the requirements and building codes in your area.

These civil servants go through thorough recruitment in the public sector.  While private businesses aim to profit, the role of public service is to cater to the needs of the public. As such, it certainly has higher standards than your run-of-the-mill business entity.

Set Down Rules on Smoking

Indeed, this is a tricky one. But for you to be able to adhere to the regulations, you need to put your foot down and take measures to contain smoking to keep your rental property safe.

You can even take stricter measures by banning smoking altogether. However, keep in mind that this regulation can drive potential tenants away. If you don’t allow smoking in your rentals, some tenants may resort to finding another place to rent instead of complying with your rules.

A good halfway measure is to designate a place to smoke on your premises. Alternatively, you can use fire-proof furniture. You can also sit down with your tenants to discuss this. Having an honest conversation can go a long way in finding a middle ground and solutions.  Smoking is a common cause of a fire incident, not to mention death, so it’s better to take precautions.

Install Smoke Detectors

You may frown at having to purchase smoke detectors and putting them in each room. However, apart from ensuring that you adhere to the requirements of the law, you are actually taking care of everyone renting in the property. Smoke alarms can warn everyone in case of fire.

Install Fire Extinguishers

Another safety measure that you can’t ignore is fire extinguishers. By putting out small fires, you ensure you won’t have to deal with more serious accidents. Again, check with your local codes. Some cities require more than one fire extinguisher for large apartments and rentals.

What’s more, every adult in your rental space should be trained on how to use one. That way, everyone can be a solution should fire break out.

Inculcate the Evacuation Plans

Best of all, you should inform everyone of the evacuation plans should a fire incident break out. Make sure you or an expert can review it with them. You can even invite an officer from the fire department to speak and address queries. When you truly care about the welfare of your renters, finding ways to keep would not be such a heavy task.

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