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Recession, Fire Protection and You

You Can’t Afford Not To Stay on Top of Your Fire Protection 

In these difficult financial times, businesses and homes are cutting back their expenditure to the bare minimum necessary. Many are neglecting the things they needed to have. Among these is often that Cinderella of effective business management, Fire Protection and fire safety training. But if you don’t manage these vital and legislated requirements, you are failing in one of the primary legal and moral responsibility, and that is planning for a fire event.

In Australia you have a legal duty to ensure your premises complies to fire safety provisions as identified in the AS 3745-2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities, and Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2011 – Regulation 43, emergency plans, fire fighting equipment and staff fire safety training. These provisions are legally binding for whoever runs a PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking). Routine inspections of systems and equipment as per AS1851 are because occupants are identified as being at higher risk of fire (or injury from fire), such as hotels and B&Bs, or their have been reports that there are issues at premises, and/or a sector has been identified a to audit – such as an industrial estate. And if you have to call the Fire Service because you have a small fire, then you can expect a check.

Fly Below The Radar?

So can’t you just fly under the radar? Deal with it if it happens? Well maybe. But the law takes breaches of the legislation, standards and codes very seriously. Typically, and non compliance can be hit with unlimited fines and/ or prison. Even if there is no prosecution, you’ll probably get enforcement notices and be bounced potentially, into spending substantial sums very quickly, to achieve satisfactory compliance. To be in breach, you don’t need a fire or a death; just to be not complying in a way that is regarded as exceptionally risky. For example, blocked or inoperable fire escape doors, no early fire-warning, inadequate or unsafe escape routes, no provision of portable fire fighting equipment, or highly combustible materials without adequate protective measures.

Why Risk it?

And why would you fly under the radar? Basic fire protection such as a simple fire alarm, fire extinguishers, maybe a couple of emergency lights, a couple of better internal doors and fire awareness training for your highly valuable staff, can be programmed into your budget and reviewed regularly. This all feeds into your business continuity plan as part of disaster limitation. Why should you do this?
Most business which suffer a significant fire never recover, and insurers will examine your compliance with the legislation, and may not be willing to approve a claim in part of in full, if they deem you to be culpably negligent. Then of course, there’s the inevitable fire investigation; they may hold you to have been criminally negligent: if the fire hasn’t taken you out, the subsequent prosecution and punishment probably will.

Morally Responsible?

And there’s the moral angle. How would you feel if one of your family members was injured in a fire at their place of work? You’d be angry; you’d want answers; you’d demand action. All your staff are someone else’s Mum, Dad, child. Why would you provide them with less care and protection than you would expect for your precious family members?

A Final Point to Ponder.

What is your fire protection like at home? Do you have any early warning? Are your smoke alarms hanging down forlornly with no batteries because you keep forgetting? Does your family have a fire action plan, so everyone knows what to do and where to go? 90% of homes in the Australia now have at least one functioning smoke alarm. 50% of domestic fire deaths occur in the 10% that don’t. Smoke alarms save lives, over and over again.

Failing to have adequate fire safety provisions at home and at your business is planning to fail and failing to plan. The consequences could be a nightmare you will never wake up from.

To find out more about your obligations, contact one of our expert staff and we will be happy to help.

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