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Life safety checklist

There are countless security solutions and strategies that can be implemented to improve life safety across all facets of a property.

November 8, 2017  By Bill Maginas

Whether it’s a large education campus or a high-security government facility, each property has its own unique infrastructure and rules and regulations, which underscore the importance of designing a life safety plan specific to its own unique needs.

While the actual plan or product should be tailored to a specific location, there are several safety trends that resonate across most industries which can help to improve any facility, no matter the size. Consider the following best practices and tips for enhancing fire and life safety at your property.

The starting point

Devise a plan. A proper safety plan should start with a comprehensive risk assessment so businesses can make informed decisions about which safety solutions should be implemented. Conducting an assessment can help to pinpoint the most common threats and vulnerabilities associated with your specific business. It can also help to ensure compliance with regulations, especially when working in the public sector or other facilities that typically have stricter protocols associated with them.


Identifying the common threats and vulnerabilities through a risk assessment provides the information necessary to then build an emergency plan. Emergency situations happen without warning. Having an emergency plan in place can help reduce the impact and consequences after the fact. A plan should detail the steps and procedures to take during an emergency such as a fire in a hospital or active shooter on a college campus. Start by outlining the most appropriate responses depending on location and situation including evacuation routes and emergency exits. The next step is to clearly communicate these plans to staff. Scheduling routine security trainings and drills helps to keep safety top of mind for all, not just those who work in security or operations.

Communication for the masses

Put it in action. From fires to severe weather, having a clear line of communication in an emergency can make a difference. Mass notification can be used as a means of communication that can be tailored to any facility. A government facility might incorporate it to provide a pre-recorded audio message recommending that anyone on-site shelter in place when an unauthorized visitor is on the property. A college campus may use it to provide text alerts to all on campus residents that there is a major storm coming and campus will be closed.

Mass notification should be thought of as a layered, comprehensive system rather than a singular solution. Today’s systems can incorporate many modes of communication from an email notification to strobe lights or automated phone calls and should incorporate addressable speakers for fire safety.
Addressable notification for fire alarm systems uses targeted audio messaging to alert visitors and staff and offer directional assistance in a range of emergency situations, including weather related issues or external threats. It is a robust and cost-effective safety solution that helps to keep order in hectic situations.

Maintenance is key

Maintain the equipment. Although often overlooked, maintaining fire and life safety systems is a critical element of overall safety for any facility. Regular testing helps to ensure the solution will operate when required. Always opt for a licensed fire and life safety inspector to oversee your full system maintenance to help ensure you are complying with code requirements and meeting all regulations. This third-party testing helps to ensure that fire and life safety systems are in proper working order and can function in the event of an emergency.

In any industry, the safety of employees and visitors remains a top concern and taking these steps can help improve safety and security immensely. Using these trends as a guideline, security and life safety decision makers can identify the specific solutions and technologies that protect their unique facility. While new safety products and trends continue to emerge, there are some trends that will continue to stay relevant.  

Bill Maginas is area vice-president and general manager, Canada, Johnson Controls.

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