Fire and Safety Australia and the key elements

Ken Walker

cooking and fire safety go hand in hand

The key elements of fire safety Australia

Whether you are located somewhere in the outback or in one of the major cities. Australia is a large country. With a population of approximately 26,000,000 the federal, state and local governments have significant responsibility for fire safety Australia.

  • In the cities we look for the relative high density of emergency services to protect houses, factories and other structures from fire. To a lesser degree fire safety doesn’t so much revolve around protection from vegetation or bushfires in these areas. Evenso, they do occur in park land and in open areas between residents and businesses.
  • To mitigate the risk of fires everyone has a responsibility to contribute to their protection within their scope of knowledge and responsibility. How do we understand our responsibilities? Well the emergency services are tasked with this responsibility. Some are quite good at marketing the fire safety messages and others leave a lot to be desired.
  • If you would like to keep yourself safe from fire then one of the key places to start is Google. What Google does, is lead you to the authorities around the country who are the leaders in fire safety Australia. Do have a look at your local authority but if your questions aren’t being adequately answered try another state.

If you would like free guidance on where to look please email us for some suggestions. Fire Safety Australia is dependent on us all, but some have legislative responsibilities and we should use them for information. Most will be happy to help.

fire safety equipment

Lets first look at some of the equipment provided by fire safety businesses in Australia. There is a huge amount of appropriate safety equipment designed to keep us safe. From a firefighting pump for rural residents to an evacuation wall chart in a large building.

  • Firefighting equipment and ancillary resources are great but what if we don’t understand what we really need? This is where your Google research comes in.

If you live in a rural area where your main fire safety risk is from wildfire then, bushfire fire services like the Country Fire Authority in Victoria or the Department of Fire and Emergency services in Western Australia may be the place to start. These are just examples and not an indication of the quality of the resources.

Even so, I do like the ”Homeowners Bushfire Survival Manual” in Western Australia. Click here to download the information.

the kids fire truck teaching them about fire safety

As an example – what if you wanted to protect your home from a bushfire and your research indicated a sprinkler system would help protect your family and property. How would you know what to do? Well there are specialists in all fields of fire safety Australia and most will provide you with the most appropriate and updated information. Some may charge for the service and guidance but in the long run may save you a substantial amount of money.

A little about the legislation

On the other hand you may own a business that employs a number of people or has the public frequent your physical location. In this situation the owner of the business has legislated responsibility over and above that of the emergency services to provide a safe environment for occupants of a building. At least until the emergency services arrive and take control.

  • There is one generalised document that can guide both owners with little knowledge of emergency management and the consultant who is charged with the responsibility by an owner to help them set appropriate procedures.
  • This document is Australian Standard 3745-2010 which is called up in a number of federal and state legislation which makes it compulsory.

Moving on with the available fire safety equipment

We have looked at how to din some of the equipment for rural locations. What about if you are the owner of a building. You may require fire safety equipment like hose reels, fire extinguishers, fire safety signs and many other types of health and safety equipment.

Some building fire safety equipment is required under a number of Australian Standards and a consultant or licenced building contractor can provide information on the fixed and passive fire safety equipment.

matches which can be a barrier to fire safety Australia

Fire safety Training

This is a very important factor in terms of fire safety. Whenever a business or consultant provides an emergency planning or other document there will always be a disclaimer that indicates employees should operate outside their scope of training. Even as a homeowner if you plan to stay and defend your home during a bushfire then it would be problematic to do this without any training.

  • In an industrial environment health and safety legislation in most cases requires that employees are provided with appropriate training and don’t operate outside their scope of training and knowledge.
  • Furthermore, in a business environment from caravan parks to the small manufacturing outlet there is a requirement to set up an emergency control organisation to deal with emergencies. The main role of this organisation is to help occupants evacuate during emergencies. They may also provide first attack on the fire or other emergency.

Some fire safety training requires national accreditation through a registered RTO. This is generally related to a physical business or other working environment. Best of all a fire safety certificate will be issued and is generally transferable between Australian states.

Those who decide to stay and defend during a bushfire don’t require accredited training but ideally accredited training would be pursued.

Fire safety in the home

There is nothing more devastating than to hear of someone loosing their life in a house fire. This is someone’s loved one and those who survive will be affected forever.

Within the building code there are a number of fire safety requirements in a residential dwelling. One of these is the inclusion of a smoke detector. In most states it is compulsory that every house or other dwelling has a working smoke detector. Because they do save peoples lives.

  • Fire service statistics indicate that many fires start in the kitchen. There are so many things a resident can do to mitigate the risk of fire including the inclusion of fire blankets and fire extinguishers. All designed to help combat the fire in the early stages.
  • This equipment may be bought with the best of intention, but the first time one uses such equipment shouldn’t be the moment there is a real fire. Again, if you can recieve some training the benefits may be substantial. Recognition of the fire being greater than the capacity of a fire extinguisher or fire blanket, must be recognised by the user.

Often fire services provide sessions relating to this equipment but hands on training is generally provided by private companies.

Within the residential environment a specific vulnerability is the presence of children and the elderly. It is likely that they will require assistance to evacuate a burning building and may be susceptible to extreme panic making evacuation, even assisted evacuation, very difficult.

Fire safety plan

Many may have heard the saying “if you fail to plan you are planning to fail”. The Australia Standard 3745-2010 outlines the requirements to plan for emergencies in a facility or business. The standard actually requires the implementation of an emergency planning committee. This committee will differ depending on the size of the resik it is mitigating.

  • Many workplaces and facilities have benefited from this planning during emergencies. Such planning is also important in the home to protect our loved one and personal property.

Even though this planning isn’t legislated in our home it is so important that every member of a given household is aware what to do during an emergency. It can be the absolute difference between life and death.

firefighters training for aircraft firefighting

Psychologically, when an emergency situation occurs in a domestic environment it is likely that you will recall information you have learnt in the past. Trying to match up what’s occurring now, during the emergency, with something that has happened in the past. This is where training kicks in. There are so many examples of this throughout history from soldiers in life threatening situations to firefighters. Who have predicted a building collapse when everyone else thought it would be fine. Planning is the key and the Australian Standard 3745-2010 recognises this fact.

In conclusion

Fire Safety Australia is quite a complex issue but there is only a need to mitigate the risks of your specific environment. Using equipment designed for general fire safety. In Australia the building codes also provide certain requirements to help keep us safe. This has evolved over time from situations where people were injured or died.

If you would like to discuss your current and/or future requirement for emergency planning please call one of STG Fire Safety emergency managers.

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