An inoperable smoke detector is one of the most frustrating and dangerous findings on any type of inspection. This violation carries the most severe penalty scoring. With Agency and Municipal inspections same day repairs are mandated.
Both residents and maintenance must acknowledge the importance of this device. It must be operational at all times. The multi-family industry is regulated by a variety of agencies. They mandate the use of at least one, and sometimes multiple devices. The number of devices depends on the size of the apartment or town home. It is sad and frustrating to hear about injuries and some times fatalities in locations where no smoke detectors are present. Knowing the value of quick warning in the case of a fire, there is no doubt that smoke detectors save lives.
Team Training and Awareness
During staff meetings, suggest maintenance develop a habit to check a smoke detector anytime they’re in an apartment for a service request, not just on inspection, or pre-inspection walk thru’s. The additional service could be tracked on the service request. Taking the time to type this comment onto every service could be cumbersome and time consuming. The service technicians are on a mission when they enter an apartment, troubleshooting, repairing and hopefully finishing before they receive a call about an emergency at another location. To integrate smoke detector maintenance into regular work flow, one property printed labels with the direction, “test the smoke detector.” Labels were placed on every service request as it was printed. This would allow early identification of any inoperable devices. Not only to avoid Health and Safety violations, but most importantly to provide a safety feature for residents in case of an emergency.
Positive reinforcement can assist with residents, to maintain smoke detectors. Listing “test your smoke detector day” in the newsletter or on a sign in the hallway or the property grounds. On the violation side, resident must understand the severity of dismantling a smoke detector. Warning letters, sizeable lease violation fees and even possible eviction could be warranted for repeated infractions. Not only is a resident putting themselves and their household in harms way, they are also creating an environment that could cause their neighbors to be harmed.
The care and condition of smoke detectors is often specifically identified in the apartment lease or the Community Rules and Regulations, taking the time to explain this policy during the lease signing is critical. The resident must understand a smoke detector is an important safety tool, not a nuisance to be dismantled when the toast burns. Smoke detectors are not going to be an irritation that produce the alarm tone without cause. If the device is not working properly, it must be reported so it can be repaired or replaced.
Monitoring the operation of smoke detectors during the regular maintenance tasks on a property will encourage residents to participate in preventive efforts, improving the safety features in apartment homes and minimizing costly findings on agency or municipal inspections.