The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation requires all balconies/decks/railings for public use or transient lodging be inspected every three years.
What Is Inspected?
In accordance to NFPA 80 (Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives) and NFPA 101 (Life Safety Code), doors, hardware, frames, sidelights, closing devices, chutes, fire windows, glazing, glass block assemblies, fire dampers, and maintenance records must be inspected annually, and the inspector must assign a Pass/Fail rating. Doors which are serviceable must be placarded with an approved inspection label.
Who Can Inspect Fire Doors?
NFPA does not require safety inspections to be performed by third parties; however, the local fire marshal or building department or the property insurance carrier may require a 3rd-party certification. NFPA specifies the individuals performing the inspection must have an acceptable level of knowledge and expertise, to wit: "be performed by a qualified person with knowledge and understanding of the operating components of the type of door being subject to testing." We recommend the person performing the inspection should have a working knowledge of the doors and assemblies and have a NFPA Certified Fire Inspector I certification. You should ask yourself this question: "If called to testify, would my person be ruled competent based on their knowledge and qualifications?" Remember the doors must also be labeled.
What Are Common Issues With Fire Doors?
The most common issues we find are hardware modifications which do not meet the standard, i.e., the maintenance technician replaces hinges or door levers with noncompliant hardware purchased at a hardware store. Other common issues include, gaps or cracks around frames, delamination or corrosion on the door, excessive gaps around the door, missing insulation, and cracked glass. Warehouse rolling doors are also often failed due to missing sweeps, poor operation, and damage.
Is the Inspection Expensive?
Typically, no. The inspection fee will be based on the number and type of doors. A small retail or office facility having a few doors with minimal use would be less than $500 typically. Industrial or large facilities which are significantly delinquent in inspections or that have no maintenance records should expect a larger initial cost.
Our customers can save some initial expense by contracting a multi-year program to defray costs in establishing a good record system to track inspections and maintenance. We're happy to discuss all options.
Clients who may need annual fire door inspections and HR7020 balcony/deck/railing inspections (every 3 years) can combine inspection services to save money with a multi-year inspection contract. Customers can save even more by combining inspection services with our pest control services.
If you use our sister company, 360PestControl, for general pest/termite protection, we will include annual fire door inspections for FREE! Call us to discuss your unique needs.
We offer pre-purchase, due diligence, site audits for buyers of commercial or industrial properties. These include Environmental Site Audits and Transaction Screens.
Simply, Property360 is one of the most qualified indoor air quality assessment firms you will find. Our client list is extensive, and we have assisted many building owners and employers in resolving employee/tenant complaints as well as isolatingand remediating air quality issues.
Indoor air quality issues or concerns are often generated from the following:
- An employee/tenant complaint.
- Occupant complaints which may be related to production cycles, such as high-volume printing.
- Occupant complaints following remodeling or upgrades.
- Concern with mold following a water loss.
- Concern with mold, which may have been discovered during remodeling.
- Concern with mold based on sensational comments by service technicians or contractors.
- Poor ventilation, elevated humidity or dampness and/or poor housekeeping.
- Elevated insect or rodent activity.
- Psychological association to coincidental illness, i.e., if two occupants develop the same illness/disease, people tend to assume they have an associative risk.
- Tenants who wish to break a lease.
- Employees who are seeking a transfer, reassignment, medical benefits, or disability.
- New exposures related to changes in service companies such as janitorial, HVAC, or pest control. Hint: Few building managers spend enough time evaluating service contracts.
One thing is guaranteed: If there is an indoor air quality problem, it is directly related to an event, process, material, building component, or design flaw. Indoor air problems are not naturally occurring!
Building owners and property managers often receive complaints alleging building related sickness. The most common complaints are:
- Lethargy, headaches, and sinusitis related to mold exposure.
- Watering eyes, sneezing, and skin rashes related to unknown exposures.
- Headaches, fatigue, and difficulty breathing related to mold or dampness.
- Nausea, bite marks, skin rashes, and swelling related to insects.
Without fail, the complainant is convinced their symptoms only occur while at work. Employers, property owners, and property managers are encouraged to take occupant complaints seriously. Often, we hear affected owners or managers downplay the complaint with retorts such as "He/she is the only person complaining" but they may not realize contaminants affect a subset of people differently. A small percentage of people are simply more susceptible, and they should be viewed as a "precursor" to a potential problem which could escalate. Think of the "complaint" as a warning sign or early alert rather than a disruption.
- Ignore the complaint.
- Perform a basic or rudimentary sampling event with a minimally qualified "tester." Note: Sampling protocols should never be the primary test basis of an indoor air quality assessment.
- Minimize the complaint or ostracize the complainant, especially if no evidence of contaminants or irritants are found.
The key to resolving an employee/occupant complaint for building related sickness is "good faith response." Upon receipt of the complaint or notice of legal action, did you:
- Discuss the nature of the complaint with the individual(s) earnestly?
- Make any attempt to determine if others are similarly affected?
- Attempt to modify the work environment of the complainant?
- Seek professional assistance for assessment/evaluation?
Indoor air quality assessment for complaints alleging building related sickness should not be taken lightly. If the complainant is correct, you need to know what needs to be done to fix the problem. If the complainant is incorrect but represented by an attorney (who may have a medical opinion), your insurance carrier may wish to settle the case rather than defend it. That is never good news to you because as we know, "misery loves company.”
The best practice for a building owner or employer is to hire a professional who can conduct a thorough, unbiased investigation to determine what, if any, constituents may be related to or causal to the complaint, and who can document exposure levels, if any, to the complaint. To accomplish this, your air quality assessor should have these qualifications:
- Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC)
- Certified Safety Professional (CSP) or Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH)
- Certified General Contractor or equivalent licensure to understand building construction
- Licensed Mold Assessor
Many commercial buildings have an Exterior Insulated Finish System, synthetic stucco, or insulated panel wall cladding system. These wall cladding systems were invented following WWII as an energy and cost saving method of rebuilding thousands of damaged buildings. While there is nothing wrong with these systems in theory (and many systems perform as designed), defective installation and deferred maintenance are known issues affecting these wall systems.
- Potential buyers of commercial buildings.
- Sellers who may be considering listing the building for sale.
- Property managers who may be responsible for maintenance and upkeep.
- HOA/COA's who may be taking over buildings from a developer — transition study.
What is EIFS? A non-load bearing, barrier wall, exterior cladding system generally consisting of the following components:
- Insulation board.
- An adhesive and/or mechanical attachment of the board to the substrate.
- Glass fiber reinforcing mesh.
- Base coat on the face of the insulation board which serves as the weather barrier.
- A textured protective finish coat.
Is EIFS recognized by the building code? Yes, in Division 7 of the model codes adopted by the International Building Code in 2009.
Are EIFS systems inspected by the building department? Rarely. Most municipal building inspectors do not inspect wall cladding systems of any type.
What Type of EIFS Systems Are in Use? Although there are many systems, the Exterior Insulating Manufacturers Association (EIMA) recognizes two primary systems:
- Class PB Systems: A polymer based system has the reinforcing mesh embedded into the base coat. Base and finish coats may have varying thicknesses. This system is often referred to as the “thin coat” or original EIFS.
- Class PM Systems: A polymer modified system has the reinforcing mesh applied over the insulation board. The base coat is generally ¼” to 3/8” thick and is applied over the mesh. The mesh is applied with mechanical fasteners and uses plastic trim accessories. This system is also applied over masonry and is generally more expensive than a Class PB system.
There are many other systems on the market such as DEFS, OCS, etc., and it is not unusual to find differing systems on the same structure! It takes a trained inspector to identify the type of system in order to determine if the system was installed correctly.
What Qualifications Should an Inspector Have? The inspector should have qualified experience in constructing commercial buildings as well as specific qualifications in the inspection of EIFS/Stucco from a recognized accrediting organization. There are two primary accrediting associations for EIFS: EIMA and EDI. EIFS/Stucco failures often present additional problems such as mold or insect damage, and any licenses that may help in identifying the damage caused by ancillary issues on the part of the inspector is worthwhile. In short, hire the most qualified inspector you can find. Our qualifications include: Certified General Contractor, CGC060389 and EDI Certified EIFS/Stucco Inspector, FL-122
What Will a New Construction Inspection Cost? Depending upon the size and location, you should expect to spend between $395 to $695 for each inspection. Very large or complex buildings may cost more.
Forensic Investigations: Property360 excels in forensic investigations for systemic moisture, termite damage, leaking piping, and leakage due to deficient wall cladding systems like stucco and Adhered Concrete Masonry Veneers.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Complaint
Pre-Purchase, Due Diligence, Baseline IAQ: If you purchase a building, the initial baseline indoor air quality survey may protect you against inheriting an indoor air quality problem, and it can also serve as a future measurements baseline. It is important and we recommend every commercial property buyer conduct the survey. The pre-purchase baseline survey should be followed up periodically. We recommend every two years or after any change in process or building modification. Other than detecting hidden or unspected air quality issue, the survey can help identify changes in the indoor air based on your use or modifications to the building.
Examples of Indoor Air Quality Issues Based on Modifications
If you are performing high volume printing (like monthly invoicing or weekly payroll runs), are the small paper particulates causing a problem?
Has interior modifications (like adding offices) affected ventilation?
Has occupant loading created a humidity problem?
Has a change in service companies (like pest control/janitorial) resulted in a change in VOC levels?
Is the new flooring or paint finish off-gassing contaminants into the air stream?
Is the packaging/shipping process causing indoor air problems?
Have any indoor air quality measurements changed such as CO2, S2 or O2, RH, DP, or temperature? If so, we need to know where and why?
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The baseline IAQ survey can be combined with any of our pre-purchase, property condition assessments. The more you bundle, the more you save. Our recommended pre-purchase due diligence package:
Baseline IAQ Survey