Understanding the basics of fire safety: six tips for building managers

Tyco Fire_Safety-000126The effects of fire can be devastating. In addition to posing a serious risk to the safety and welfare of occupants, fire can cause expensive damage to property and equipment and may result in lengthy and expensive downtime while repairs and rebuilding take place.

Every building manager should be well-versed in the basics of fire safety. The following advice outlines six tips to help building managers protect against fire. Continue reading

Don’t forget the wine when protecting restaurants from fire

Red and white wine in bottles

By John Lynch, General Manager, Wormald Business Support Services

A restaurant’s wine cellar can be one of its most expensive and irreplaceable assets. The cellar at Sydney’s Rockpool Bar & Grill has been valued at somewhere between $10 and $40 million dollars and reportedly boasts a $72,000 bottle of 1945 vintage wine. Crown Melbourne’s Club 23 serves a $12,500 cocktail which uses Cognac from 1858.

As an important source of revenue for restaurants, it’s essential to consider cellars and bar areas when planning a restaurant’s fire safety requirements. Continue reading

Consider the fire risks in your warehouse

warehouseBy John Lynch, General Manager, Wormald Business Support Services

Consider the fire risks in your warehouse

The losses that can be caused by a warehouse fire are significant.  As the shift to larger warehouse storage facilities and distribution centres continues, the fire protection solutions required are becoming more complex.

A major fire can quickly bring a business to a standstill with loss of goods and equipment, building damage, smoke damage and subsequent downtime just some of the outcomes when fires are not quickly contained. With the right solutions in place, the risk of minor mishaps or serious incidents can be averted or reduced. Designing a fire protection system requires expertise in fire behaviour and fire protection – both of which Wormald has developed through decades of experience.

In a warehouse environment, it is often the simple things that are overlooked.  Forklifts and containers blocking fire exits, missing or neglected fire extinguishers, a lack of exit lights, the accumulation of flammable debris, and overloaded electrical outlets are all common hazards that can be easily rectified.  Continue reading

Small business owners urged to conduct fire safety audit

SME Safety Security AuditFire can have disastrous consequences for business with many owners spending years trying to recover which is why it is important for business owners to carry out a fire safety audit of their premises to help protect against the risk of fire.

Wormald recommends that properties are checked annually to ensure that fire safety equipment is maintained and emergency processes in place to help reduce the risk of fire and its physical, emotional and financial impact.”

To conduct a thorough fire safety audit, Wormald Security recommends taking a systematic approach.  Business owners are advised to:

Locate a fire safety checklist from a trustworthy source such as their State police department or local fire service. Wormald also hosts security and fire safety factsheets online.

  1.  Conduct a risk assessment and survey the property for potential hazards. Move through the property from front to back, starting at the entrance, reviewing each space or room. It’s a good idea to contact a fire protection specialist to assist with the property audit.
    • Assess all entries to the premises, including through parking areas and emergency exits, and check they are secure.
    • Common fire hazards include electrical equipment, machinery, office equipment, paper refuse such as boxes and recycling bins, and kitchen appliances. Research conducted by Wormald found that the most common causes of workplace fires are electrical hazards (29 per cent) and machinery (27 per cent).
    • Check electrical equipment is working correctly and organise a professional to repair any faulty or exposed wires
  2. Ensure appropriate measures are taken to reduce the threat of fire:
    • Ensure main entry and exit points are well-lit and free of clutter for easy evacuation
    • Ensure all fire protection equipment is positioned correctly and maintained according to Australian Standards
    • Keep sprinkler heads free from obstructions such a boxes or cartons placed to close the sprinkler heads
    • Equip kitchen areas with a fire blanket and the correct fire extinguisher
  3.  Ensure every member of staff knows what to do in the event of emergency. For example, all occupants should know where fire protection equipment is located and how to use it.

To ensure the correct fire safety and security measures are taken, it’s advisable to contact a security or fire safety specialist. To ensure nothing is overlooked, property audits should be carried out during the day as well as at night. Business owners are also encouraged to consult a specialist to assist with an audit and help ensure the business is compliant with standards and legislation

To access the Wormald small business fire safety checklist click here.

Working safely in confined spaces – training is vital

By Garry Kwok, National Technical Services Manager at Wormald

With an atmosphere of potentially harmful contaminants, an unsafe level of oxygen and restricted means of entry and exit, working within confined spaces can pose many risks to health and safety.

Wormald confined space trainingEmployers should be aware of their duty to minimise health and safety risks, and provide training to personnel working in confined spaces.  Work health and safety laws set out the legal obligations that must be met by employers before work can commence in a confined space.

A unique set of skills and knowledge is required for those working in confined spaces, so the value of training cannot be underestimated.  If something goes wrong, knowing what to do and how to do it is vital.  To fully understand and manage the risks, it is important to learn and be tested under real-life conditions and training can provide this.

In addition to training, there are several other things to consider before starting work in confined spaces, including entry permits, risk assessments and rescue procedures, so both employers and employees must be prepared. Continue reading

Accounting for human behaviour in emergency response

By Garry Kwok, National Technical Services Manager at Wormald

Wormald - fire safetyEmergency response is not immune to the idiosyncrasies of human behaviour.  Regardless of how much training is provided, it is almost impossible to predict how an individual will respond to an actual emergency, whether it is a fire, earthquake, natural disaster or accident.

While computational and engineering tools are necessary requirements for designing a building’s evacuation routes, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology has found these tools often fail to fully consider the impact of human behaviour.

Building and facility managers should consider how human drivers can affect the safe response to an emergency. This involves being mindful of the cognitive drivers that influence how long it may take occupants to begin evacuating the building and what exit route they may choose.

According to a study conducted  by the Mailman School of Public Health, which examined the evacuation decisions of the September 11th World Trade Centre tragedy, this may include factors such as an individual’s perceived ability to exit the building, previous evacuation experience, permission to leave and the information available to make a decision. Research also shows an evacuation decision is influenced by group dynamics. In a fire emergency, staff are more likely to follow their respected colleagues. Continue reading

Train and maintain to protect against restaurant, bar and café fires

By Dave Hipkins, National Technical and Product Manager, Wormald New Zealand

Wormald commercial kitchen fire protectionThere is no room for complacency when it comes to protecting commercial kitchens from fire. Regardless of size cafés, restaurants, fast food outlets, school canteens and hotel kitchens are all at risk. The recent string of restaurant and bar fires in New Zealand highlights the need for business owners to not only install the correct fire protection equipment, but to also ensure it is regularly serviced and employees are trained to use it.  Damage to property is one thing, but the safety of your staff and patrons must be the top priority.

An important task for any business owner is to ensure the correct fire protection equipment is installed.  This involves identifying and understanding the fire hazards on site, the most significant of which may be the kitchen.  Intense cooking heat, flammable oil and the build-up of grease in inaccessible ducts poses significant risks.

Kitchens should be fitted with wet chemical fire protection equipment, which is specifically designed to protect against fires involving cooking oils and fats.  This can include wet chemical hand held fire extinguishers and for larger facilities, fixed fire suppression systems.  Fire extinguishers should be easy to access, clearly labelled and regularly maintained.

Fire protection should not end in the kitchen however.  In a fire emergency, a complete fire safety system will ensure a high level of protection for facility staff and patrons.  Facilities can be fitted with sprinkler systems, fire alarm detection systems, emergency warning and intercommunication systems, emergency lighting and supplementary fire protection equipment, such as hand-held portable fire extinguishers.  They may also be fitted with passive fire protection features such as fire doors and walls. Continue reading

Fire safety training – what is required and what are the options?

By Tony Jones, Engineering, Defence, Training and Rescue Manager with Wormald

ImageIf your premises experienced a fire would you and your employees know what to do?

Fire is a risk for every facility and can pose a serious threat to people, property and a business’ reputation. Whether you’re responsible for a large hotel, high-rise office block, small retail outlet or an industrial workshop, you need to know the risks and prepare accordingly.

In addition to having the correct fire protection systems and equipment in place, fire safety training must be provided to ensure each staff member knows how to respond in an emergency situation.

Emergency related training is a vital element of any fire prevention plan. The Australian Standard, AS 3745 – 2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities outlines the minimum requirements for the development of the emergency plan and also provides direction for the planning and implementation of an Emergency Planning Committee, Emergency Control Organisation (ECO) and emergency response procedures.

The Standard requires training to be completed by at least one member of the Emergency Planning Committee, for the Emergency Control Organisation and for the occupants. Members of the Emergency Control Organisation must also attend skills retention training every six months.

To give you an idea of what’s available, here are some of the courses offered by Wormald: Continue reading

Fire safety training – an essential element of fire protection planning

By Mark Gowans, managing director, Wormald ANZ

Serious fires can result in injury, fatality, property loss, significant damages and lengthy downtime.  Although it is not always possible to prevent a fire, every business should be adequately prepared so that the impact of fire to people and property is minimised.

As well as having the correct fire safety solutions in place, organisations must consider the importance of staff fire safety training.  Training is an essential line of defence against fire and the impact of a crisis can be substantially reduced when people are trained to respond appropriately.  A confident team that is able to respond appropriately is an invaluable investment for a business. Continue reading