Charles Hammersla, National Facilities & Compliance Manager at Kmart Australia answers our questions about fire safety in the retail environment.
Charles Hammersla, National Facilities & Compliance Manager at Kmart Australia
1. What fire protection challenges do retailers face?
Retailers have a duty of care to our teams and customers to protect them from fire risks when they visit or work in our premises. Generally, our stores are consistent in terms of merchandise mix and we also try to deliver a consistent shop floor layout. What this means is that our fire protection strategies can also be consistent across our stores.
The main challenge we tend to face is the human element – to keep the focus of our teams on maintaining general housekeeping standards, including those relating to sprinkler head or switchboard clearances, and egress path blockages.
Principally this means that we need to be consistent around our fire protection approach – and make it as easy as possible to control risks in our environments. Continue reading
Owners and operators of mobile and transportable equipment are urged to familiarise themselves with the recently announced changes to Australian Standard AS 5062-2016 Fire protection for mobile and transportable equipment.
With new requirements for maintenance including routine service tolerance frequencies, baseline data reporting and risk assessment, the revised standard promotes improved fire safety for mobile plant used in transport, mining, forestry, civil works and port facilities. Continue reading
The retail environment is constantly evolving to accommodate changing shopper behaviour and the need to drive sales. This can give rise to unique fire safety challenges, particularly in relation to the maintenance and servicing of fire safety systems and equipment.
Every time a wall is moved, store lay-outs are altered or stock levels increase, fire protection requirements may change. For example, moving displays at entryways may alter emergency exit paths, or storing excess stock in vacant change rooms can add fuel to a fire. These changes may require sprinklers to be moved or installation of additional sprinklers.
A fire in a retail environment can have devastating and costly consequences. Harm to staff and shoppers aside, a fire incident can permanently damage stock, bring operations to a standstill and have expensive legal ramifications. When an Asos factory in the UK went up in flames in June 2014, the retailer lost more than 20 per cent of stock stored on site and suspended orders for 48 hours. The blaze reportedly cost the retailer up to £30 million in lost sales. Continue reading
As Wormald urges national businesses to adopt Australian Standard AS1851-2012 as a standard operating procedure across all operations, facility managers and building owners are faced with the challenge of evaluating how their fire protection systems are being maintained and serviced.
While implementing a nationally consistent approach can help to deliver efficiency and cost savings, the transition may initially be overwhelming as new systems for fire safety audits, the categorisation of fire safety defects, record-keeping and reporting are introduced.
With so much to consider, it is important not to cut corners. AS1851-2012 lays out strict compliance requirements to ensure fire protection equipment is in proper working order when it’s needed most. Appointing a reputable fire protection provider can assist with developing, implementing and maintaining a comprehensive program to address the most stringent needs. Continue reading
Following the Victorian Government’s adoption of Australian Standard AS 1851-2012 Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment for all new and existing buildings, Wormald is urging national businesses to streamline the maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment across all their operations.
Historically, the routine servicing of fire protection systems and equipment has been regulated differently in each state and territory.
For those businesses operating across multiple states or indeed nationwide, this has meant taking an inefficient, siloed approach to fire safety.
As Victoria joins all other Australian states and territories in adopting AS1851, a new national benchmark for best-practice has been set. Building owners and occupiers are encouraged to adopt this as standard operating procedure. Continue reading
As procurement teams in the industrial, construction and mining sectors continue to streamline operations and rationalise suppliers, cost and efficiency are becoming the key drivers behind the purchase of fire protection systems.
While these are important considerations, this should never be at the expense of life safety.
Effective procurement of a fire protection provider involves a careful and consultative approach to establish the best fit for your organisation.
As a shared responsibility, it is essential that all those involved in fire safety (including procurement departments, health and safety teams, and on-site management) invest in quality fire protection solutions.
Appointing a reliable and quality fire protection provider requires careful consideration of a number of factors, including those set out below. Continue reading
The Victorian Government has announced that AS1851-2012 Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment will now apply to all new and existing buildings in Victoria, despite what is indicated on occupancy permits.
The Standard provides prescribed routine servicing activities for fire protection systems and equipment.
The Building Amendment Regulations 2016 provides a mechanism for building owners to use AS1851-2012 for the maintenance of essential safety measures, in lieu of the version of the Standard listed on the occupancy permit for their building. This change came into effect on 1 May 2016. Continue reading
Hoarding is a complex mental health condition that has been proven to significantly increase the risk and impact of fire. It refers to the excessive accumulation of items that often creates cramped living spaces, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter.
According to a 2009 study undertaken by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) in Melbourne, fires in hoarding households are indeed fiercer and more expensive to fight than other kinds of residential fires*. In New South Wales, fires in hoarding households represent eight per cent of all fire fatalities since 2000, with one third of these fatalities aged 60 years or over. Continue reading
Recent changes made to the Victoria amendment of the National Construction Code are a timely reminder of the fire risks associated with clutter.
The changes required sprinkler systems in proposed multi-storey residential buildings to be extended to protect covered balconies, and address the findings in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s Post Incident Analysis of the Lacrosse building fire. Caused by an unextinguished cigarette on the balcony, the Analysis also found that excessive storage of materials on the balcony exacerbated the spread of fire.
While the installation of fire protection systems such as sprinklers helps to reduce the impact of fire, it is important not to rely solely on such measures. Prevention is always the best strategy when it comes to fire protection.
All landlords, tenant and strata managers are reminded that the build-up of clutter can expose the building and its occupants to increased fire risk. A pile up of clutter may provide more fuel for a fire to burn and potentially block passage ways and exits. Continue reading
Following its sale from Tyco, Wormald is returning to local management under the leadership of new CEO, Andrew Lee. The following Q&A is an opportunity for you to get to know Andrew as he answers six key questions.
1. What direction do you hope to steer Wormald in as it transitions to new ownership?
I’m particularly excited about the impending changes to the Wormald business that will take shape this year. Under new local management, most of whom are existing key Wormald personnel, Wormald can return to being a dedicated fire business that is focused on delivering the specialised fire expertise it is renowned for. Wormald will also benefit from a less centralised and more flexible business structure, with regional-based decision-making driving the business forward.
We are also excited to continue to work on our technical capability, including investigating new products, systems and services. Continue reading