en-Gauge Fire and Life Safety Blog

How Fire Safety Code Violations and Obstructed Life Safety Equipment Impacts the Handicapped

Posted by John McSheffrey on 10/16/13 12:14 PM

Last month I was at the California Hospital Association for Disaster Preparedness Conference (actually, a great event), and had the opportunity to speak with a gentleman in a wheelchair about enGauge and introduce our products.  I didn’t put any particular emphasis on the discussion until he came back to our booth at the end of the show and said, “Thank you for your products.  I can’t tell you how important they are to me”. 

When I asked him what he meant, he said that handicapped people are impacted much more dramatically by fire safety devices (like fire extinguisher and fire alarms) being blocked and that they are always blocked.  This puts these individuals in situations where they are less likely to be able to save themselves or their property in the event of an emergency. Our fire extinguisher monitoring product, and our obstruction detection sensor address that problem by ensuring that extinguishers and any other critical (and mandated) fire safety equipment like alarms and fire panels remain unobstructed.

This got me thinking. For those of you that are frequent readers of this blog, you know we throw pictures of empty, missing or blocked fire extinguisher that I run across on the site every now and then (and there are a lot of them!).  I’ve been walking around thinking about how these obstructions, which are BY FAR the most common code violation, would impact me if I were in a wheelchair.  The results have shocked me.  This is what I’ve found in the last two weeks just going through my daily routine.

Handicapped Inaccessible Fire Alarm

Inaccessible Fire Alarm Blocked By Chair

Handicapped Blocked Extinguisher in Market

Handicapped Inaccessible Fire Extinguisher Blocked in Waiting Room

Handicapped Blocked Fire Alarm in Cafe

Blocked Fire Extinguisher Handicapped in Starbucks

Handicapped Blocked Extinguisher and Fire Panel Dunkins

Seriously Inaccessible Fire Extinguisher

This is an untenable situation.  The handicapped are being put at unnecessary risk because of these code violations.  Without electronic monitoring of these critical life safety devices to ensure they are free of obstruction, it is only a matter of time until this seemingly harmless oversight ends in tragedy.  Thank you to my friend from the show for his kind words and for making it clear how important this work is.


Topics: Codes and Standards, Blocked Fire Extinguishers, Compliance, Electronic Monitoring of Fire Extinguishers, Inaccessible Fire Extinguisher, Blocked Fire Extinguisher, Smart Sensor