One in three business managers unaware of fire safety standards and legislation

Wednesday, 17 July, 2013

Fire protection specialist Wormald is urging business owners and managers to keep up to date with fire safety standards and regulations and to ensure their buildings are adequately protected against fire.

According to the Wormald Business Fire Safety Report, 33% of Australian business managers are not fully aware of the building codes and standards that must be complied with in relation to fire safety.

Garry Kwok, National Technical Manager with Wormald, warns those responsible for building safety not to be complacent. “Fire safety is an important responsibility for property and facility managers. To ensure the safety of a building’s occupants, it is vital that an adequate fire protection solution is in place, sufficient fire safety training is provided and that the fire protection equipment on site is routinely serviced and kept in proper working order.

“A number of amendments have been introduced to Australian legislation and standards relating to fire safety. While it can be daunting to understand exactly what the responsibilities are, property managers must stay on top of things to ensure compliance and a high level of protection against fire.”

The following outlines some of the most significant changes to fire safety standards in recent times:

  • Changes to AS1851: In December 2012, a newly revised edition of the Australian Standard 1851 was released, AS1851-2012 Routine Service of Fire Protection Systems and Equipment. AS1851-2012 provides prescribed routine servicing activities for fire protection systems and equipment. The recent changes provide improvements and greater clarity around what is expected from building managers and their service providers. One of the most significant changes is the reduction in equipment inspections from weekly to monthly and a new focus on data requirements. The revised standard also introduces the requirement for ‘baseline data’ to be provided which provides a benchmark performance level for any fire protection systems and equipment installed. Requirements relating to passive fire protection have also been substantially revised.
  • Fire protection within aged care facilities: As of January 2013, the retrofitting of automatic sprinkler systems became a mandatory requirement in existing facilities throughout New South Wales. Similar requirements also exist in Victoria and Queensland.
  • Changes to AS 3745: According to amendments to AS 3745 - 2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities, which came into effect in late 2011, it is mandatory for training to be completed by at least one member of the Emergency Planning Committee, for the Emergency Control Organisation and for the facility occupants. Emergency Control Organisation members must attend skills retention training every six months.

Kwok continues, “It’s important that fire prevention plans are developed in accordance with Australian Standard, AS 3745 - 2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities. There are also various state-based fire safety regulations relating to servicing and maintenance of fire protection equipment and systems; for example, in New South Wales (NSW), the NSW Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulations (2000) requires that an Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) is prepared by a building’s owner or agent. An AFSS certifies that a building’s fire safety measures are capable of performing as intended to their original design standard.”

Keeping up to date on fire safety standards and regulations is vital to ensure a building and its occupants have a high level of protection against fire. If you’re unsure as to what your responsibilities are, consider speaking to a fire protection specialist.

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