Must-Have Fire Safety Upgrades - Pro Construction Guide
Must-Have Fire Safety Upgrades to Discuss with your Clients

Must-Have Fire Safety Upgrades to Discuss with your Clients

A debilitating fire ranks among any property owner’s worst fears, with the efforts required to clean up soot and water damage and replace household items potentially costing thousands of dollars.

With October’s National Fire Prevention Month observance underway, now is the ideal time to reinforce fire safety best practices with your clients and sell fire safety upgrades that can offer added protection…and peace of mind.

Detect Inconsistent Performance

While smoke alarms are a home’s most fundamental fire defense mechanism, they also rank among the most overlooked fire safety upgrades. A recent National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) study estimates that three out of every five residential fire deaths occur in homes whose smoke detectors either are improperly installed or non-functional.

Any client walkthrough should begin with verifying that the smoke detectors on every floor are up to code and performing at their optimal capability. Savvy pros understand that the average smoke detector’s sensors wear down after 10 years, making a decade an ideal benchmark for a replacement.

Kidde Alarm

Should your clients need to replace one or more smoke alarms, consider smarter and more versatile fire safety upgrades that will serve them well for this duration. For instance, The Home Depot worked closely with Kidde to develop the Intelligent Wireless Combination Alarm, which wirelessly connects with existing detectors to provide complete smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring. Available only at The Home Depot, this multi-purpose, all-in-one alarm provides everything property owners need to ensure hassle-free protection, including a sealed lithium-ion battery that lasts for 10 years and a Smart Hush button that temporarily silences nuisance alarms. Additionally, the Kidde Combination Alarm synchronizes with smartphones to provide real-time alerts, offering an added advantage for owners of distant vacation or rental properties.

Even if a full overhaul is not required, you can still reinforce a property’s fire detection by testing the current alarms’ batteries. Long-lasting batteries, such as Duracell’s Quantum line, can extend a detector’s shelf life without requiring burdensome maintenance.

Extinguish a Major Risk

While portable fire extinguishers are successful 94 percent of the time, they typically are most effective when used during the first two minutes of a developing blaze. This tight window reinforces the need for your clients to have a functional fire extinguisher on every level of the home.

When checking a property’s fire alarms, also take a moment to evaluate fire extinguisher conditions. Extinguishers should not only be at compliant pressure levels, but also be clean, easily accessible and in good working order. Should a device need replacement, or your clients need extras for added coverage, consider an ABC-rated fire extinguisher or other multi-purpose option that can quickly eradicate fires from various electrical, wood, fabric, plastic, paper and flammable liquid sources.

Eliminate Silent Threats

Efficient fire prevention is as much about remedying the less obvious interior risks as the ones that are more visible. Insulation, electrical outlets and drywall are just several behind-the-wall elements that can ignite and spread fires if not properly treated.

Whether you are building from scratch, remodeling or already working on other interior property projects, fire-resistant upgrades are part of the  fire safety upgrades that should be on your plan. To begin, look no further than the property’s electrical system. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) found that electrical receptacles are at the root of 5,300 home fires each year, resulting in 40 deaths and more than 100 consumer injuries on average. To offset these risks, replace traditional outlets with ones less susceptible to electrical surges. AFCI-ready properties in particular can benefit from dual-function AFCI-GFCI options which provide extra protection while simultaneously recognizing potentially dangerous conditions that standard breakers can easily overlook.

Leviton AFCI Outlet

Should a fire occur, a host of basic interior enhancements can contain and minimize the damage. For an added layer of safety in kitchens, attics and other fire-prone areas, it’s best to replace standard insulation with a heavy-duty alternative capable of withstanding high-intensity temperatures. Likewise, when replacing or installing pipes, cables or duct penetrations, apply an insulating foam sealant to close gaps that otherwise can encourage the spread of toxic smoke and harmful gases.

Regardless of your clients’ property types or the stage of your work, there is always room for improvement and added protection against fires that far too often are preventable. A mix of refreshing the basics and upgrading to innovative new fire safety technologies can build trust with clients looking to protect their investment, and ensure that any property – and owner – is fully prepared.

By Julia Buerger, Electrical Merchant, The Home Depot

Julia Buerger is an electrical merchant for The Home Depot, responsible for fire safety, security and consumer electronics.  

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