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7 Common Misconceptions About Fire Safety

Are your people trained in fire safety? Research statistics show that less than 50% of building occupants feel confident in knowing what action to take and where to assemble during an emergency. Less than 25% of people randomly tested are able to locate their nearest fire extinguisher without searching the building. These statistics paint an alarming picture of the state of emergency readiness within Australian workplaces. Fire emergencies pose a rising threat to businesses. Unawareness, and misconceptions can cost lives. So let’s debunk some of the myths:

MYTH 1: Smoke alarms are enough protection

Smoke detectors are crucial in all enclosed spaces but alone are not a fire prevention or fire protection plan.

  • They alert your workplace of fire or smoke, but they do nothing to curtail the fire
  • They notify your employees to evacuate, but smoke alarms are not a roadmap
  • They do not protect those physically unable to escape alone, such as the elderly, small children, or the disabled
  • Nor are they infallible. Can Siri understand everything you say? It is the same for smoke alarms, performance is dependable and may not provide the best solution in an emergency.

In addition to smoke alarms, fire doors, fire sprinklers, fire barriers, and fire dampers are among the many team-players of a cohesive fire safety system. Remember, there is no ‘I’ in team. A fire management system should include all areas, and it is not elective; It is a requirement under AS3745-2010 and your State/Territories Workplace Health and Safety Act to have written fire and emergency management procedures for your building or workplace.

FSA trainers and consultants can visit your workplace to determine the risks at your workplace and prepare a step by step emergency plan. We will work with your team to determine an emergency management procedure that fits your requirements.

MYTH 2: Fire sprinklers do more damage than a fire

This is a common notion amongst computer centres, telecommunications facilities, art galleries, museums, libraries and historic buildings. However, something is better wet than burned; and better to be possibly salvageable than lost completely in ashes.

Water damage from a building’s fire safety sprinkler system is much less severe than the damage caused by firefighting hose lines, or smoke and fire damage if the fire spreads.

Not all sprinklers are activated at once. They have an intelligent system where only sprinklers in closest contact to a fire will activate. Usually, 90 percent of fires are extinguished by four or fewer sprinklers and 65 percent by a single sprinkler.

Fire sprinklers provide a high level of life safety.  However, for successful results fire sprinklers need to be incorporated as part of a fire safety team, they are not an individual solution.

MYTH 3: In a fire, flames cause the most casualties

Smoke is generally what injures or kills in a fire. The flame is the gun, but the bullet is the smoke.

You can asphyxiate in just 3-5 minutes in thick smoke full of toxic by-products (carbon monoxide, office furnishings or materials). You can easily choke, become disorientated, and fall unconscious simply from inhaling smoke.

Don’t risk suffocating your employees in smoke. A Fire Safety Advisor Audit will assist in protecting your workplace.

MYTH 4: All fire extinguishers are the same

Over 50% of people who operate a fire extinguisher do so incorrectly or dangerously (i.e. not using the correct extinguisher, or not using the correct technique).

Only 13% of people are aware that different types of fire extinguishers must be used on different classes of fire and of the dangerous effects of using the incorrect fire extinguisher on specific fires. In Australia, there are six main types of fire extinguishers which can be installed in businesses. It is essential that Australian businesses have the right type of fire extinguisher installed in their workplace.

Download the Australian Standards AS2444 and AS3745 compliant FSA Fire Extinguisher Selection Chart for free here.

These regulations specify that all personnel trained in the use of portable fire extinguishers must refresh their Fire Extinguisher training every two years.

MYTH 5: Newer buildings are safer

Age is just a number. Newer buildings may be more innovative, but older buildings can still be taught new tricks.

Faulty wiring does not discriminate by age, and neither does fire safety. You are in control of your own and your staff’s fire safety.

Does your business hold a current fire safety certificate? Do you need a Fire and Safety Advisor Audit? In Queensland, for buildings that have in excess of 30 employees, it is a mandatory regulation that a Fire Safety advisor be appointed.

Ensure your business is in compliance with regulations and that your employees have up to date knowledge on current fire and safety standards and improvements.

MYTH 6: People will panic

Regular fire evacuation procedure drills (while appreciated during a high school exam), may not be welcomed during a business meeting! Although maybe it depends if lunch was provided.

Nevertheless, those regular, ‘bothersome’ fire drills could save your life.

Fire safety information and practical training can be just as powerful as a fire sprinkler or face mask.

An informed fire safety workplace won’t panic. It is a requirement under AS3745-2010 to practice at least 1 full evacuation exercise in your building/workplace each year.

Is your Fire Warden training current? A Fire Warden assists and implements workplace fire safety emergency procedures. Generally, one fire warden is required in the workplace for every 20 employees. However, the appropriate number of fire wardens need to be available during all working hours.

Contact us for assistance with developing the best fire warden resource plan for your workplace.

MYTH 7: The fire will wait while I finish my email

In less than 30 seconds a small flame can erupt into a huge fire. Imagine what could happen while writing an email or reading this article!

There is no time for finishing work, Googling what to do in an emergency, or taking social media photos. Human safety should be your highest priority.

Fire Safety training is crucial because education saves lives. Is your workplace trained in fire safety measures?

FSA is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO#22250), ISO 9001 Quality Certified and dedicated to changing safety in the world, one experience at a time.

FSA is here to assist you to develop and maintain your fire and safety emergency management system, to ensure your employees and workplace have the best possible protection at all times.

Take control of your safety. Don’t delay another second! Let FSA remove the stress and risk. Contact FSA about a Fire Safety Audit or Fire Safety Training and ensure the safety of your workplace today.