One of the biggest disasters a property manager could face is a fire. According to FEMA, the cooling weather in fall and winter increases the number of fires and related accidents. It is crucial to inspect your properties for fire hazards now, and get acquainted with these tips to help prevent fires and keep residents safe and minimize damage if a fire does occur.

1. Inspect Heating Equipment And Chimneys
An important first step is to inspect heating equipment and chimneys thoroughly.  Build-up in chimneys can pose a serious fire hazard. Boilers and other heating equipment can also become dangerous when not properly maintained. Such risks are preventable, thus it is worth spending the extra money now to have all heating equipment inspected professionally. Keeping heating equipment well-maintained has the added bonus of increasing heating efficiency, which can save you money down the road.

2. Ban Indoor Smoking
Another major cause of fires is indoor smoking. It is a good idea to explicitly prohibit smoking indoors in your leases and on posted signs in the buildings. If you smell cigarette smoke indoors, try and remedy the problem by sending a notice reminding the tenants of this rule.

3. Advise Against Using Candles
Unattended candles are another significant source of apartment fires. This can be especially problematic during a power outage if tenants don’t have flashlights. It is advisable to caution tenants on the dangers of using candles and, if possible, provide flashlights during a power outage to discourage using candles.

4. Examine Electrical Wiring
Inspecting all electrical wiring in your buildings is a vital step. Faulty wiring is a significant risk factor when it comes to apartment fires Redoing electrical wiring can be expensive, but most property managers would agree that protecting their tenants and their investment is worth the cost.

5. Ensure Fire Alarms Are Properly Installed
Have fire alarms professionally installed throughout your building. To ensure their reliability, fire alarm systems must be inspected, tested and maintained periodically. Remember that fire alarms need to adhere to NFPA code requirements, should follow manufacturer’s recommended inspection and maintenance requirements, and require annual system testing.

6. Prohibit Cooking On Balconies
When tenants use grills on their balconies, it poses many kinds of risks, including the increased potential for a fire. Stay on the safe side by banning the use of grills and any kind of cooking on your tenants’ balconies.

7. Post Clear Evacuation Procedures
Following these tips can help you protect your property against a fire. Unfortunately, sometimes disasters like fires are beyond your control. To be prepared for this possibility, be sure to post clear evacuation procedures. These will vary depending on the size and layout of your buildings.