No matter what type of business you operate, a fire outbreak can wreak havoc. Containing fire outbreaks isn’t as difficult as you might imagine, but negligence and ignorance can end up causing disasters. In Australia, the onus of adherence to fire safety standards lies with the employers and the owners of commercial properties.
Commercial Buildings all over Australia must meet specific state guidelines and comply with the correct fire legislation. Critically, you must ensure you have the correct fire safety equipment on your premises. Once the fire safety equipment is in place, you must also conduct regular safety inspections and test the fire protection systems. Non-compliance will lead to failure of safety inspections, but could also endanger the lives of the people on your site.
The majority of commercial fires can be contained if the right plastic fire safety products are first procured and placed at the appropriate locations. Fire safety systems like sprinklers and alarm systems can help buy vital time until professionals arrive at the scene. Having the right products and maintaining them is just the first step. Keeping the premises safe from fire hazards is a necessity in every workplace. Fire evacuation processes and regular practice of these with all staff are also essential aspects of your fire safety plan.
FPAA – Fire Protection Association Australia
Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) is a non-profit organisation working to improve community fire safety. FPA Australia is the national peak fire safety body that supports and represents the fire protection industry and draws members from some of the leading companies that offer a range of fire protection services. FPA Australia delivers technical information, services and education to support both the practitioners and the broader community.
FPA Australia has developed a code of practice for all signatories to follow. The Code prescribes principles, standards and service delivery requirements that help enable the best possible outcomes when protecting life from fire-related emergencies. The Code helps maintain a national standard for the manufacturer and distribution of fire safety equipment.
With almost 1900 members, including manufacturers, firefighters, and building owners, FPA Australia is working with the fire protection community to provide a safer environment.
Designing Fire Safe Buildings
All life is precious. While building new and complex buildings, architects are responsible for ensuring that the structures are fire-safe. Working with a fire safety engineer early in the building concept design process ensures that optimised solutions can be delivered. Detailed information about the facility, its intended use, and any potential hazards helps them identify areas for improvement before they begin drafting up their drawings.
When designing a fire safety system, it is essential to consider all the different factors that influence fire and smoke behaviour, and how they interact. For example, understanding the source of fire to predict where smoke movement will occur or how much heat will be transferred into building structures when there is an incident will impact its design. Considering fire safety design can help make arrangements for the most effective evacuations, and guide locating the critical points for fire and safety equipment placement.
Why do Commercial Buildings Fail Fire Safety Inspections?
Cutting corners in the maintenance of fire safety systems and equipment will lead to a failure in fire safety inspection and more importantly, puts building occupants and employees at a higher risk. Although there could be innumerable reasons to fail a fire safety inspection, a few common reasons are seen rather more frequently compared to the others.
Here’s a list of things you should keep in check to comply with all rules and regulations and clear the safety inspections:
Every second is crucial during evacuations. If the exit doors are difficult to open or access, it would lead to a disaster. Obstructed or hard-to-open emergency exit doors are one of the most common reasons for failing a safety inspection.
Obstructions in Exit Routes:
Similar to the exits, obstructions in the stairways and pathways make evacuation harder. Temporarily placing packages, furniture and other obstructions in an exit route could also lead to failure of safety inspections.
Emergency Lights and Signs:
Maintenance of the emergency lights and signs is crucial. These signs are life savers when the buildings are filled with smoke and fumes, and finding the path leading to the exit can be extremely difficult.
Exposed Electrical Junctions and Wires:
Electrical appliances and fires can be a lethal combination. Partially covered or exposed electrical junctions and wires can exacerbate any hazardous situation and wreak havoc on an entire building. It is absolutely crucial to ensure all electrical works are safely maintained and installed.
Maintenance and Availability of Fire Extinguishers:
Fire safety doesn’t end with purchasing a fire extinguisher. They must be appropriately placed, regularly checked and recharged when necessary. Faulty, expired, and misplaced fire extinguishers are other common reasons for failing safety inspections.
Faulty Fire Alarm System:
Though you may find it surprising, a fire alarm system that has not been tested in more than a year is not unusual. Regularly testing and servicing the fire alarm system by a licensed fire alarm company is necessary to ensure meeting the requirements of the fire safety inspections.
Fire Safety Education for Employees to Create Safe Workplaces
A tool is only as good as its user. In emergencies when every second counts, you cannot simply wait for the professionals to arrive on the scene. With adequate fire safety education, you may be able to save property and even lives. Teaching employees the basics of how to use fire extinguishers, making a fire safety plan, and nominating a fire safety warden (depending on the expanse of the property) will help manage and guide people during emergencies.
In the event of a fire at your business, make sure you have an evacuation plan in place. Your staff should know where all exits are and you must ensure that emergency lights like smoke or heat lamps work so people can find their way out quickly.
With a fire safety plan in place and regular maintenance of the fire safety systems and equipment, you can safeguard your business and your employees.