Fire Inspections For Condos Too Now

February 11th, 2013 · 1 Comment · Property Management, Rental Property

A Halloween RomanceIn one of the condos I manage, the stove stopped working properly. I called the appliance repair company I use and so they went out there the next day. That day I happened to be in the hospital with my son because he had some tests to take (He’s fine) When they called I couldn’t answer the telephone. Later on when I called back, they had managed to get the tenant to pay their invoice and they had not fixed the problem. The problem was a burnt out fuse. They are not “electricians” and so they cannot change a fuse in the fuse panel. They can change a fuse on the stove but they are incapable of transferring that life skill to the fuse panel.

Rachelle Goes To Work – Annoyed

Changing a fuse is a minor iota of the wondrous talents I have. I take myself over to the property and change the fuse and even bought some breaker fuses so that I never have to do it again. I’m so proud that I’ve mastered the art of turning round objects to the right and the left.

Annoying Beep

Then I hear an annoying beep and then a few minutes later, another annoying beep. Using my interrogation powers I ask the tenant how long the fire alarm has been forlornly beeping due to lack of battery power? I then ask “When the fire inspection was done?” She tells me “It was done a few months ago”

A few days later I called the management company for the condo and ask them why my fire alarm is beeping when there was a  fire inspection just a few months ago.  It appears that the responsibility for the battery resides with the condo owner.

The cost for a battery is less than $2. The condo company pays for a professional fire inspection company to come and look at the alarm to make sure it works, but they won’t pay an extra $2 to put a new battery in it. According to the National Fire Protection Association missing or disconnected batteries are the the cause of over half of smoke detector failures during fires. As a landlord we are responsible for changing the battery and it’s too important to relegate this task to the tenant.

Needless to say I was not pleased with the condo management company. I seem to remember the owner telling me they charge over $700 in maintenance fees per month. Saving on putting a $2 battery once annually seems silly when it’s such an important part of safety.

So far I have also been unable to get a copy of the fire safety inspection from any management company for my files to prove to the Fire Department that I am doing my due diligence in case anything ever happened.

Why Not Let The Tenant Do It ? – Case Study

Several months ago during the move in inspection of a tenant in one of the properties I manage, I pulled off the smoke detector and it was dated 1999 (smokes are only good for 10 years) I went to the store immediately and bought one and the tenant assured me that the brand new smoke/carbon monoxide detector would be installed immediately but when I went back almost a month later it was sitting on top of the fridge. 

More Fire Inspections – Coming Up

Due to this one incident I am now going to perform Fire Inspections in all the condos I manage as well. It just aggravates me to no end that the condo management company would have such a shortsighted policy. It’s not just because I resent having to do the Fire Inspection, it does cost the owner extra money: I know that there are probably quite a few elderly or ill people for whom it’s a big issue to go out, get the stupid battery, put it in the alarm and so on.

Integrating Properties Into The Program

As I get new owners signing up for property management, I start by doing a fire inspection and unit inspection to deal with any outstanding issues. My latest management project – a five plex, had to have an entire replacement of every single alarm and carbon monoxide detector. If there is no sticker in the alarm saying the manufacturing date, it predates 1999 and needs replacing. If there is no sticker on the carbon monoxide detector it’s older than 1999 and needs replacing. Galaxy Fire Protection actually ran out of Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors because we had to install so many. Some of the suites were multiple levels and each level needs a Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors

For the most part these Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Combo detectors above are the ones I have to use. But… if you have interconnected or hardwired alarms then you have to continue to use that kind.

Except… for service rooms, in which you also need a carbon monoxide detector…but you cannot put in a smoke detector because the furnace will make it give nuisance alarms. I use the plug in ones when I can, but some furnace rooms have no plug ins.


There are a ton of rules and I am not an expert! But here is the list of the ones I know.

Rules For Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  1. Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors are required on every level of the home.
  2. Use Photoelectric Smoke Detectors – They have a much lower failure rate than the ionization kind
  3. Smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors must be installed outside sleeping areas
  4. You can upgrade but not downgrade the type of detector you have. Hardwired use hardwired, interconnected use interconnected.
  5. One Carbon Monoxide detector in the service room with the appliance.
  6. Carbon Monoxide Detectors need replacing every 7 years.
  7. Smoke Detectors need replacing every 10 years.
  8. When you remove a detector because it’s no good or too old take it with you and dispose of it.

I have also found that there are some places with multiple excess smoke detectors. I take them off and dispose of them. I do not leave them around for the tenant to distribute or worse store on the property.

Paper Work For Fire Detector Inspections

I found a form from the Windsor Fire Department and then I made it better for my uses. You can download the new and improved form here. You can edit this form as well. I fill one out for every smoke/carbon monoxide detector and I file it. This protects my owners. It also protects me.

Please don’t put off Fire Safety it’s for your own good!

photo by: garlandcannon

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