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

A guide to the different types of fire extinguishers

By Dave Hipkins, national technical and product manager, Wormald New Zealand

fire extinguisher_blogHaving the right equipment is close at hand is vital for minimising the impact of fire. A serviced and functional fire extinguisher may mean the difference between a minor incident and devastating full scale fire.

When choosing a suitable fire extinguisher, one needs to consider which fire extinguishers will address the needs and hazards of each individual business environment.

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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

Using technology to maintain fire solutions on mine sites

Wormald_Mining 2

By John Lynch, General Manager, Wormald Business Support Services

A fire in a mine can pose a very serious threat.  If under prepared, the consequences can be devastating.  The hazardous nature and typical remoteness of mining operations means that fire safety equipment and systems must be kept in peak condition to ensure they work effectively in the event of an emergency.

Protecting mine sites requires many different types of fire safety systems and equipment.  The types of environments may include process plants, underground conveyors, static and mobile plants, draglines, workshops, substations, monitored control centre rooms and switch rooms.  Unfortunately keeping everything checked and maintained can be a time intensive task that can easily slip down the priority list.

In accordance with the strict requirements for the servicing of fire suppression systems and equipment as outlined in the Australian Standard AS1851-2012 “Routine Service of Fire Protection Systems and Equipment”, it is vital that maintenance of fire safety systems and equipment on mine sites is kept up to date.  This includes inspection, testing, preventative maintenance , managing defects and repairs and survey activities.

To help mine site managers keep track of their maintenance obligations, mine sites are increasingly turning to new technology.  One such system is Wormald Connect, an online portal that can centralise and manage fire safety maintenance.  This web-based online portal provides 24 hour access to fire service calls and inspections data, and provides instant visibility to any system that may need routine maintenance and servicing.  It allows maintenance schedules to be booked at any time that suits and stores data for easy analysis or the data can be exported for further analysis or record keeping. Inspection summaries can also be filtered to suit a customer’s individual needs.

Entirely web based, the Wormald Connect service is available to all Wormald clients at no extra cost and there is no requirement for you to invest in proprietary software or hardware.

For mining companies, automated maintenance technology can be particularly beneficial to keep track of multiple mine sites that may be located across different states and territories. It can help centralise fire safety maintenance and ensure every site is safe and compliant.  The portal can also provide comprehensive reporting capabilities for each location, with data accessed in real-time around the clock provided there is access to the internet.

Knowing that a mine site’s fire safety equipment and systems are well maintained and regularly tested is reassuring and while automated maintenance technology can be a valuable tool, it should be noted that technology cannot replace the role of human intuition, management and accountability. Mine site safety managers need to remember that it is their responsibility to ensure fire safety requirements are met and that they adhere to regulations and relevant standards applicable in their State.

For further information about using technology to maintain mining operations, call Wormald on 133 166 or visit www.wormald.com.au.

Protecting NZ’s marae cultural sites from fire

Marae image_lower resBy Dave Hipkins, National Technical and Product Manager, Wormald New Zealand

Maraes are sacred historical places that often contain carvings and artefacts that would be irreplaceable in the event of a fire.  As most maraes are constructed from timber and many are located in remote locations, they are particularly vulnerable to fire.

Protecting maraes from the risk of fire requires both careful planning and technical knowledge.  Consideration must also be given to a marae’s heritage buildings which in some cases can be over 100 years old.  Inadequate or improper fire protection can also expose the marae’s community to danger, lead to potential injury or, in a worst case scenario, loss of life. 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

Tunnel fire safety – protecting occupants from fire

By Dave Hipkins, national technical and product manager with Wormald New Zealand. 

Wormald - Terrace TunnelTunnel fire protection is complex and each individual tunnel will have a different level of risk.  This risk will be heavily influenced by factors such as the tunnel’s operational requirements, location, length, traffic conditions and the nature of vehicles that use it.

While the likelihood of a fire occurring in a tunnel is very small, the effects can be disastrous.  To give an example, the Mont Blanc tunnel fire in France in 1999 occurred after a refrigerated trailer caught fire and stopped almost midway through the tunnel.  The fire unfortunately resulted in many casualties and fatalities and the heat and smoke generated from the fire severely inhibited the emergency rescue operations.

It’s vital that every tunnel has an adequate fire safety solution in place.  While it’s not always possible to provide an exhaustive checklist for tunnel fire safety, fire protection should always be considered in the initial stages of tunnel design.  Consultation between tunnel operators, fire engineers and fire safety specialists will ensure that the final structure complies with recognised building requirements, engineering principles and applicable standards.  It will also ensure that adequate safety features and emergency procedures are implemented. Continue reading

Managing an FM200 system


By Mick Davis, western region account and sales manager, Wormald

FM200 (also known as HFC-227ea) has been used in gaseous fire suppression systems since the early 1990s.  FM200 is ideal for use in applications such as data rooms, cabinets and electrical switch rooms as it is minimises damage to electrical equipment.  It is also used to protect vaults/tape storage, marine machinery spaces, chemical storage and clean rooms, medical laboratories and emergency power facilities.  FM200 is most effective when used to totally flood an enclosed area, in the event of a fire.

FM200 is extremely efficient and cost effective and a relatively low volume of the agent is required to suppress a fire.  However, the landscape for FM200 use is rapidly changing.  Under the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Plan legislation, synthetic greenhouse gases (SGG) such as FM200 will have an Equivalent Carbon Price applied to them as legislated under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 effective from 1 July 2012.

This means that any FM200 imported into or manufactured in Australia after 1 July 2012 will have the Equivalent Carbon Price levy applied. Continue reading