The Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) has issued a warning to prepare for an extreme summer. Many states in Australia including not only Victoria, but also New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, are currently experiencing significant drought.
Record breaking low rainfall in some states combined with drier and more volitile ground conditions has led fire authorities to issue an early season warning to prepare for one of the most severe fire seasons in a decade.
Particular regions of concern in Victoria include West, South and East Gippsland, East Metro and Hume as most likely to experience an above average bushfire season.
With the growing concerns about the potential devastation this fire season may cause, it is now more important than ever for you and your business to be fully prepared for this bush fire season
BUSHFIRE SURVIVAL PLANS
During a bushfire, you, your family’s and employee’s safety depends on what processes and preparations you have implemented.
Families and individuals who are well prepared have a greater change at survival in the event of a bushfire. Your employees should be fully informed of your business procedures and precautions in the event of a fire.
All employees should know:
- The location of all emergency exits
- The agreed upon meeting place outside the premises once evacuated
- Whom your nominated fire wardens are and how they will respond in an emergency
- How and when emergency services should be called (000)
The more prepared your property is, the more likely it will withstand a bush fire and provide protection if you are unable to safely leave.
How can I prepare my property for a fire?
- Trim overhanging trees and shrubs
- Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps
- Enclose the areas under the house
- Repair or cover gaps in external walls
- Fitting metal fly wire mesh or solid screens to spark proof the windows, doors, ventilators and skylights
- Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
- Keep grassed areas low
- Keep areas around your premises clear of any debris such as wood, vegetation or leaf piles
- Remove all debris from gutters
- Tiled roofs require an appropriate fire rated insulation immediately below the tiles
- Prepare hoses that will reach all areas of your property
- Ensure your fire hydrants and extinguishers are in good working order and clear of obstructions
- Ensure evacuation plans are practiced on a regular basis
- Ensure all fire protection devices are up to date and working
- Ensure all flammable liquids are locked away in an appropriate area
Preparing your property is essential to minimise the potential for damage sustained in a fire – but you should also ensure your plant and equipment is sufficiently prepared so as not to cause or contribute to a fire. This includes ensuring:
- Your machines are free from faults and mechanical defects that could cause a fire
- Your machines are regularly maintained as per industry and Australian Standards
- Your machines carry fire suppression equipment, and that equipment is in working order and fully charged
- Your employees are fully trained in the use of fire suppression equipment, and also in your procedures in reacting to a fire in or around your machines
FIRE EQUIPMENT AND FIRE SAFETY SYSTEM MAINTENANCE
Fire suppression systems are designed to protect your assets, yourself and your employees; however, outdated or faulty fire suppression equipment can have serious consequences. Fires spread quickly and can destroy your assets and endanger the lives of yourself and your employees.
It is essential to ensure all fire suppression and detection equipment such as fire extinguishers and alarms are functioning correctly, are within their life expectancy and are regularly tested and maintained by professionals to comply with Australian Standards.
The Australian Standards require scheduled maintenance and inspection for all fire safety equipment and systems. Fire suppression maintenance and service technicians must:
- Test all equipment and systems in accordance with Australian Standards;
- Repair and replace equipment and components where required; and
- Issue a certificate of inspection.
Establishing and implementing a fire suppression equipment maintenance and testing schedule is essential to protecting your employees and ensuring that your business is not devastated by the loss of your assets and associated income with operational downtime due to fire.
Fire suppression units can be fitted to all type of assets from machinery to buildings, and are relatively cost effective in comparison to the value of your assets, loss of revenue, business interruption and, most importantly, the lives of your loved ones and employees.
BUSHFIRE ALERT LEVELS
Stay alert to any fires within your area via your State or Territory fire service website. These websites caution you as to the location of a fire and its alert level. Familiarise yourself with the alert levels.
Stay up to date with the alert level so you can determine the best course of action to respond. There are multiple other resources that can provide up to date information on local fires including:
- State and Territory fire service information lines and websites
- Social media posts (Facebook and Twitter)
- Local radio and TV broadcasts
Mobile phone apps are also a great resource in staying up to date with the latest fire alert level. Ensure you have turned notifications on to receive alerts on present fire dangers. These apps include:
FIRES NEAR ME AUSTRALIA
This app was developed by the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) and provides news, warnings and bush fire danger ratings. The app is available on iOS and Android. Please see below links for more information on this app:
MY FIRE PLAN APP
My Fire Plan is available on iOS. You can utilise this app to create your own bush fire survival plan. Download from iTunes here.
While these applications and services can be useful sources of information for fire incidents and conditions, they should not be solely relied upon.
Should your business require any further information in relation to any of the above, they should be referred to the local fire brigades for further information.
IF IN AN EMERGENCY IMMEDIATELY CONTACT 000
Content thanks to UAA – www.uaa.com.au