Ensure fire protection is on the New Year plan

By John Lynch, general manager of Wormald’s Business Support Services

EvacuationFor business managers January typically brings about lots of planning, scheduling and target setting for the year ahead.  It can be a busy and stressful time and for some, the relaxing Christmas break may already feel like a distant memory.

Workplace health and safety is an element of business management that cannot be overlooked.  The start of the New Year is a good time to assess the safety procedures and systems in your workplace and consider if and how they can be improved.

Fire protection is an essential element of building safety, but how much thought do you give to the effect a fire can have on your business?  Wormald recently surveyed 445 Australian and New Zealand business managers about their thoughts on fire protection.  It was no surprise to see that, in the event of a fire, almost all of the respondents are most concerned about loss of life.  It was surprising, however, to see that only 45 per cent are concerned about damage to property, 30 per cent concerned about loss of data and just 15 per cent concerned about downtime while repairs and rebuilding take place.

If your business was to suffer a fire, the results could be disastrous.  For some small business owners the damage could be irreparable.  I’d advise anyone managing a business to give careful consideration to fire protection and ensure their building is adequately protected, so that in the event of a fire, damage to people and property can be minimised.

Carry out a thorough assessment of the premises to help identify potential fire hazards and  determine the fire protection solution required – whether it is a basic fire extinguisher or fire hose reel, a passive fire solution or a more advanced fire detection and suppression system. Also, check that clear evacuation procedures are drafted and displayed. 

It’s important to keep up to date on any regulations and standards relating to fire protection.  This will not only ensure you are compliant, but also that your premises has the highest level of protection against fire.  It’s a good idea to talk to a fire protection specialist if you’re unsure of what’s required.

Here’s a quick fire safety checklist to help ensure your business is adequately prepared:

  • Assess the potential fire hazards around your business and identify the fire protection products, systems and equipment you require.
  • Research the range of products available and make sure you select those that carry the correct approvals.
  • Be aware of relevant legislation and standards and keep up to date on any changes. For example legislation, New Zealand Building Code or the Building Code of Australia, Australian and New Zealand standards and local governments may stipulate requirements.
  • Ensure evacuation procedures are in place and that building occupants are aware of what to do in the event of a fire.
  • Train all employees on how to use portable fire protection equipment and systems.
  • Have your equipment regularly inspected and maintained in accordance with applicable standards and regulations.

For more tips and advice, download the Wormald business fire safety checklist from the Wormald resource centre.

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