This is part 2 of a 2-part series to help consolidate important information for BuildingReports & ComplianceCenter Members for easy reference. Read Part 1 here.
How BuildingReports Is Assisting the Membership Network
BuildingReports is currently working remotely to ensure business continuity and uninterrupted operations for our entire membership network (AHJ’s, Service Companies and Facilities). For our ScanSeries members (premium barcode scanning services), BuildingReports University wants to help your ITM teams and administrators stay productive and increase their working knowledge of ScanSeries and Building Reports during the COVID-19 outbreak, by providing complimentary online training, further information via these links:
In addition, our Regional Member Success Managers will continue meeting with Members remotely to review account activity, answer general questions, assist with new features and functionality, and take feedback we can utilize to continue to improve our products and services. Please be sure to contact them to schedule a meeting if they can be of assistance.
BuildingReports is also still accepting guest blog contributions* from members to help drive more exposure for essential services. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or to submit a post.
Residential Fire Risk During COVID-19
According to the NFPA, “Ranges or cooktops were involved in the 62% of reported home cooking fires, 89% of cooking fire deaths and 79% of cooking fire injuries.” Add the increased use of electronics and HVAC systems, and the additional corresponding strain on a building’s electrical system, it’s reasonable to assume these facilities have a much higher risk profile until the shelter-at-home orders are rescinded.
- Toronto: Evidence of the risk mentioned with regard to New York’s residential occupancy types can be seen in a recent report from Toronto’s Fire Chief, Matthew Pegg. In April, Toronto saw a 17% increase in fires, most related to cooking accidents and some resulting from careless smoking.
- Rhode Island: On April 23rd, the Red Cross in New Hampshire reported a 35% increase in fire incidents from March through April over the same time period last year. The spike coincides with the state’s Stay at Home Order.
- Wisconsin: Also, from the Red Cross in late May, the state reported more than 2 residential fires per day. According to the report, that’s more than double the average for that time of year.
- California: Los Angeles, one of the most heavily impacted cities in the country and one the earliest to enact a Safer-at-Home order, has also reported an uptick in residential fires in single-family homes and apartment complexes. However, no figures were made available at this time.
- Tennessee: In some positive news, just-released figures from the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s office estimate 300 lives had been saved as of May 12th as a result of the program to install smoke alarms in homes. According to FIREHOUSE Magazine, “231,500 smoke alarms have been distributed to fire departments across the state through funding from FEMA’s Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Program.”
- North Carolina: Not everyone is experiencing an increase in fires, though. The Fire Chief for Concord NC recently reported that fire calls were actually down from 2018 to 2020 during March and April after a string of 4 fires over a weekend in May.
Vacant & Abandoned Buildings
On the flip side, many commercial properties have been vacant since many of the state and local orders have taken effect. According to the NFPA, fires in unoccupied buildings result in 16% of firefighter deaths, and they have a 33% greater chance of spreading to other structures in the vicinity, even though they only account for 6% of all structure fires. Nearly half of fires in these facilities were a result of arson.
While data is not yet available to determine if the rate of these incidents has increased, the statistics demonstrate this should certainly be an area of concern. To offset the risk, these facilities should be prioritized for in terms of both fire and security systems to help avoid incidents.
What We’re Hearing from the Field
As mentioned, our Member Success Managers continue to work remotely with Members to gather feedback, provide updates on new features and functionality, and provide training as needed. During this time, they have also been collecting insights about how various areas of the country and industries have adapted to the ongoing situation.
- Educational Occupancy Opportunities: As K-12 and higher education have been forced to shutter early, many Members have moved scheduled inspections ahead to take advantage of the near empty facilities. For those that saw a reduction in demand due to the pandemic, this opportunity helped offset revenue that had been deferred until the status returned to normal.
- Industrial Occupancy Types: A BuildingReports Member specializing in industrial facilities is seeing a surge is service call appointments after a sharp decline in April. As plants prepare to reopen in the coming weeks, the backlog ITM appointments is resulting in a significant increase in demand as some facilities play catch up while others move forward with regularly scheduled appointments. The net result was that revenue was simply deferred during closures.
- Utah: A BuildingReports member is in the process of a large-scale recruiting and hiring phase. The company recently landed a new contract with a higher education campus consisting of over 600 separate buildings, further demonstrating the potential opportunities currently for educational occupancy types as mentioned previously.
- Northwest Arkansas: Fire Marshals in Northwest Arkansas approved a 3-month extension of annual inspection requirements to offset the impact of the outbreak. A BuildingReports Member reported their technicians have been “rocking and rolling”, which has allowed them to perform all of their schools’ annual inspections early this year.
- Phoenix, Arizona: The City of Phoenix has provided fire and life safety ITM companies with an official letter that instructs facility management and building owners to allow access for inspections. This letter can be sent to the customer in advance of an upcoming inspection, and a copy should be carried by every inspector in the field should they encounter resistance from any occupant onsite.
Repurposing to Assist
As most members are aware, BuildingReports provides accessories for use with Bluetooth barcode scanners for attaching them to mobile devices and extension and smoke poles. These devices are produced on over a dozen 3-D printers by our President and CTO, Jason Kronz, in his workshop in Boise, ID. To help frontline healthcare workers, Mr. Kronz was able acquire the specs for PPE materials and has shifted production to using these resources to produce devices that are being donated to hospitals and clinics.
We Want to Hear From You
Would you like to share information regarding what your service company, facility, company or fire prevention jurisdiction is experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic? Email us at email@example.com with your story if you feel others in the industry could benefit and we'll help get the word out. We all have the same goal; to protect the lives and safety of facilities and the people in them.