Australian householders urged to check smoke alarms this Easter

By John Lynch, General Manager, Wormald Business Support Services

Exelgard Smoke Alarm Install

As the Easter long weekend begins and party preparations get underway, householders are advised to think fire safety. As you wind back the clocks for the end of daylight savings, take a few extra minutes to test smoke alarms throughout the home.

If a fire occurs, smoke alarms can provide the precious time needed to escape. However, there really is no point in having them if they are not in proper working order. Now is a good time to check that there are a sufficient number of smoke alarms in place throughout the house. Check alarms are working by pushing the test button and replace batteries if required.

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Prepare your property for bushfire season

DSC_0036By Ian Price, Business Manager at GAAM Emergency Products

As Australia enters another scorching hot summer, those living in bushfire-prone areas, whether in a regional location or suburban area adjoining bushland, are reminded of the importance of preparing for the bushfire season ahead.

Now is a good time to re-visit your bushfire survival plan and consider tools to help protect your property in the early stages of a fire and the days that follow.

Monitoring ember attacks and spot fires is an important part of protecting a property. An ember or spark can impact a house up to eight hours after the initial passage of a bushfire and small fires can spread quickly.

Wormald’s sister company, GAAM Emergency Products, has designed a portable firefighting pump, which uses water from a source at home (such as a swimming pool, creek or dam) to help suppress spot fires. The GAAM Fire Defender is capable of dispersing 240 litres per minute at pressures of up to 390kPA .

The device is lightweight and easy-to-use, providing a convenient and straightforward solution for fire suppression. It is placed next to a water source and uses a suction hose, connected to a pump and submerged, to draw water from the source. Another hose is then connected to the pump’s outlet and the Defender’s engine, which is started by pulling a cord. The GAAM Fire Defender is small and compact so it can be easily stored when not in use.

As part of a bushfire survival plan, residents should assess their individual circumstances and decide before a fire occurs whether they will stay and defend their property or leave. This helps prevent rushed and dangerous decisions at the last minute. This includes assessing how residents can defend property in the event of a fire, considering what fire protection systems need to be in place and ensuring they know where their nearest shelter is, should they need to evacuate.

For more tips on bushfire safety, see GAAM Emergency Product’s preparing for bushfires safety checklist.

Class 1 dwellings now required to install interconnecting smoke alarms

Exelgard Smoke Alarm Install

By John Lynch, General Manager, Wormald Business Support Services

Recent changes to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) 2014 now stipulate that new Class 1 buildings that require more than one smoke alarm, need to be fitted with interconnecting smoke alarms.

The new change, which came into effect on 1 May 2014, aims to improve the early response rate to residential fires, so that when one smoke alarm in a building is triggered, all others installed in the same building will also be activated. This change will be particularly beneficial for two storey buildings or homes where bedrooms are separated by living areas.

Currently, the layout of some homes can create a situation where sleeping occupants in different parts of the home may not be alerted to the presence of a fire. Interconnected smoke alarms will ensure that if an alarm is triggered in one part of the home, all other alarms will be activated.

It is hoped that the change will help to save more lives and see fewer people injured in house fires.

The changes are particularly relevant for the following stakeholders involved with newly built homes:

  • Those involved in the installation of smoke alarms, such as electricians and builders
  • Architects, building designers and building surveyors
  • Real estate agents and settlement agents

For further details on the code changes, contact the Australian Building Codes Board on 1300 134 631 or visit their website http://www.abcb.gov.au/.

Six tips for educating children about fire safety

By Garry Kwok, National Manager, Technical Services Group

Winter fire safetyWinter has well and truly arrived and as your family looks for ways to stay warm and cosy, it’s important to be vigilant about keeping your home fire safe. This includes discussing fire prevention with children.

Every child should be educated about fire safety, starting at home. If children see their parents taking fire safety seriously, they are more likely to do the same.

It is vital that families conduct a fire safety audit of the home. This includes ensuring that smoke alarms are installed in the correct location, batteries have been replaced with new ones (if it’s an existing alarm) and checking that fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers or fire blankets are accessible and in good working order. Smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and fire blankets are all essential tools for defending a home against a fire.

Families are also encouraged to develop a fire escape plan and practice it regularly with the entire family. This can be a great way to involve children in the fire safety discussion.

A fire escape plan should start with a floor plan of the home that maps out the quickest escape route from each room and indicates where fire safety equipment is kept.

Wormald has the following fire safety advice for parents to help them reduce the risk of fire in the home:

  1. Ensure children know what the smoke alarm sounds like and they what to do if they hear it.
  2. Keep matches and lighters well out of reach of children.
  3. Ensure children are kept at a safe distance from heaters, candles, and oil burners.
  4. Supervise children in the kitchen and keep them away from the stovetop and oven.
  5. Ensure heaters are always kept on a flat stable surface on the floor and away from curtains or other flammable items such as clothes and toys.
  6. Be aware that some children may have a natural curiosity about fire and be tempted to be involved in ‘fire play’. Closely monitor any suspicious behaviour.

For complete fire safety protection this winter, fire safety kits are available from Wormald. Each kit includes a 1kg ABE fire extinguisher, photoelectric smoke alarm and fire blanket.

If you or someone you know has been affected by fire, you may want to consider contacting the Fire Foundation. Wormald supports the work of the Fire Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which helps fire and burns victims throughout Australia to rebuild their lives.

The dark winter days can also increase the risk of a break-in at home. The latest blog post from ADT Security offers seven tips for home security during winter.

Don’t let fire ruin the festivities: prepare your home

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

Christmas_Wormald fire safetyThe festive season is upon us and while the Christmas rush may be overwhelming, it’s important to set aside some time to ensure your home is adequately protected against fire.  This can help to reduce the risk of an abrupt and disastrous end to festivities.

When it comes to fire safety, simple oversights can greatly increase the risk of fire.  Do a quick audit of your home to identify potential fire hazards. These may include year round hazards such as kitchen appliances and overloaded power boards, or season specific risks like Christmas tree lights, decorative candles and barbecues.

In the event of a fire, fire protection equipment provides a crucial line of defence. Ensure your home is fitted with at least one working smoke alarm, ideally located near sleeping areas.  The alarm should be checked by pushing the test button the unit. Batteries should be replaced annually – and don’t be tempted to remove smoke alarm batteries to power new Christmas gifts! Continue reading

Show your support for the Fire Foundation’s Wise up Week

In addition to providing fire prevention and detection solutions, it is also Wormald’s responsibility to educate Australian communities about the dangers of fire and to support those affected by fire.

Fire Foundation Wise up WeekWormald is a supporter of the Fire Foundation, Australia’s only national charity dedicated to supporting fire and burns victims.

From 21st – 27th October, the Fire Foundation will run ‘Wise up Week’, an initiative aimed at raising awareness of the importance of being fire safe. Wise up Week will also raise much needed funds to help the dedicated Fire Foundation team continue to support fire victims with accommodation, emergency funds and basic essentials when it’s needed most.

How can you show your support Wise up Week?

Wear something orange every day for the week, organise an event to raise funds for the Fire Foundation, donate money to the campaign via the Fire Foundation website or purchase a Wise Up merchandise pack.

For more information on the Fire Foundation and Wise up Week, visit the Fire Foundation website.

Winter home fire safety reminder – be prepared

By Garry Kwok, National Technical Services Manager at Wormald

CeilingIt’s hard to ignore the media reports of injuries and damage caused by house fires across Australia and New Zealand this winter.

Unfortunately, the cooler months bring increased fire risks for householders as heaters and electric blankets come out of storage and many turn to open fires and radiators to keep warm.

Reports from Fire & Rescue NSW show that 43 per cent of fire fatalities occur during the winter months.  While many house fires are caused by heating equipment and faulty appliances, statistics from the Metropolitan Fire Service also show that the majority of house fires attended during winter 2012 were cooking related.

A key to reducing the risk of fire occurring in the home and to surviving a house fire is to be prepared.

I can’t highlight enough how important it is for every household to have working smoke alarms in place.  Many fire fatalities occur when occupants are sleeping and it’s important to remember that while sound can disrupt sleep, generally scent cannot.  Smoke alarms are important for early fire detection and can provide the precious time needed for occupants to escape safely. Continue reading