Common Area Safety System Preventative Maintenance

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Common Area Safety System Preventative Maintenance

Preventative maintenance on life safety systems is a critical but often haphazardly managed process. Maintaining property systems that could potentially represent a threat to health, safety, or life should be completed on a monthly basis – no exceptions. The few hours taken for these inspections can’t be overvalued and must be enforced with your property management team.

By developing a plan for safety systems and area maintenance for your property, you will not only prevent unnecessary injury, but also save money by minimizing the need for replacement systems or expensive repairs. Regular preventative maintenance actually saves time and helps your team avoid much more extensive and sudden repairs that may interrupt daily operations.

Below is a preventative maintenance checklist for the most common areas in a multifamily community:


Check the fire rating on your walls to ensure they have a fire rating of at least 30 minutes. If needed, consult your building plans or ask your local fire department how to determine this rating. If your building is older than 5 years, consult with your local fire department on codes and options to improve fire barriers. Additionally, be sure to:

• Seal openings in fire walls with fire-rated materials.
• Check all hallways and exits for obstructions.
• Ensure that fixed furniture or movable furniture is at least at least 6 feet away from the exit.
• Make sure there are no loading carts, packages, equipment, or decorations within 6 feet of the opening of any exit. Entry mats and rugs
   should be in excellent shape with no edges to create a trip hazard.
• Decorations in common area hallways should be NON-combustible.

Doors must be in perfect working order.

• Smoke doors and doors opening to the hallways should be in working order, shut easily and firmly to resist the passage of smoke. Use fire
   rated materials to repair gaps.
• Verify doors open and release with no resistance.
• Doors with an auto-lock system should automatically unlock if the fire alarm is engaged. The doors should not relock automatically after the
  fire alarm is tripped.
• There should never be any deadbolt or latch locks on exit doors or common area hallway doors.
• Any door that does not lead to an exit should have a sign indicating “Not an exit”.
• Check that all lighting is in good working order.

Be sure to notify your local fire department to verify any planned changes and confirm whether a permit is required before upgrading any systems.


Refer to The National Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators - ASME A.17.1 and check with your local fire department.

Emergency Exit Lighting

• Check every emergency exit light to ensure all bulbs are illuminating. Replace bulbs as needed.
• Check batteries and replace annually.
• If you have longer-term batteries, check annually and schedule replacement reminders and orders 60 days ahead of the end date.
• Replace any damaged exit signs and check that all directional signs are pointing the right way to exit.
• Verify that all additional emergency lighting is working.

Fire Alarms

Test all fire alarm systems and ensure that there is always a working alternative power supply. (i.e. both battery and electric and check both power sources separately).

Fire Extinguisher Testing

• Fire extinguishers should be checked monthly, not annually.
• Verify each extinguisher is tagged and dated with the inspection date. Replace extinguishers as recommended, or at least every 5 years.
• Contact your local fire department for regulations on the installation height of the fire extinguishers. Verify applicable disabled regulations
   as well.
• Confirm the extinguisher is visible, unobstructed, and in its designated location.
• Verify the locking pin is intact and the tamper seal is unbroken. Examine the extinguisher for obvious physical damage, corrosion, leakage,
  or clogged nozzle.
• Confirm the pressure gauge or indicator is in the operable range or position and lift the extinguisher to ensure it is still full.
• Be sure the operating instructions on the nameplate are legible and facing outward.
• Check the last professional service date on the tag. A licensed fire extinguisher contractor must do an annual inspection. Initial and date the
   tag after you inspect it.
• Keep records and keep them safe (in a fireproof container or safe).

Storage Areas

Storage areas include utility closets, basements, crawl spaces, office supply closets, etc.

• Keep storage areas free from accumulated materials that cause tripping, fires, or explosions and be sure there is a clear path to the exit
• Separate non-compatible materials (read hazard labels).
• Remove or discard any combustible materials not in use at least annually.
• Ensure anything stacked is stable.
• Check all lighting to be sure it is in good working order.

Sprinkler Systems

Your sprinkler systems should be checked annually by a licensed professional, but there are monthly checks you can complete at no cost:

• First check the water pressure on the supply to the alarm pipe.
• Open the main drain and wait for all the water to empty. When the pressure reading stabilizes, record the reading.
• Your pressure should be comparable to the last pressure read.

Every building and jurisdiction is different, so there may be additional items you need to add to your checklist. Work with your local fire department and building inspector when developing your own building preventative maintenance list. Be sure to document your efforts!
In the end, your efforts to maintain safety systems will pay off with the safety of your residents and onsite team – the best results!


 Kate Forsyth serves as the National Sales Executive for WaterWatch Corporation, where she
 is responsible for shaping and implementing the WaterWatch sales agenda across all
 company platforms. 


 Feel free to reach out to Kate via email at and by phone at 585.448.2420