The Safest Workplace Possible

WATER SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE

Take some time to look around your workplace for the red capped posts that provide water supplies for fire services.

It is a requirement for multi-storey buildings to have internal hydrants for firefighters to use in the event of a fire.

We know that we keep referring back to the Grenfell Tower fire in our fire safety examples and there is a reason for doing so - everything about this building from a fire safety and fire prevention perspective was wrong!!!

In the Grenfell Tower example the hydrants were dry -

That's right - they had no water in them!!!

"How could this happen?" we hear you ask and the reason given was to avoid damage to the building's infrastructure by water freezing.

The best way to explain the situation in this example is to describe Grenfell Tower to you -

In Grenfell Tower, water had to be pumped up 22 floors after the water supply to the hydrants was opened before it could be used to extinguish the fire.

Even though UK regulations insist on wet mains so that water is available for immediate use, this was not what occurred at Grenfell Tower.

London Firefighters arrived at the Grenfell Tower fire - opened the hydrant valves expecting water to be there to put out the fires - and nothing happened.

WHAT COULD THEY DO?

Regulations are there for a reason, so please ensure that your workplace is adhering to them.

Keep FIRE SAFETY in mind - you don't want to face the consequences of not doing so.

JUST MAKE IT LOOK GOOD

Developers who are known to prefer cheap, cosmetic style construction have also been known to overlook practical functionality because it increases profit.

London’s Grenfell Tower was originally built as a 20 storey dwelling in 2014 to provide low cost housing and was later refurbished in 2016 to add more flats to it.

The concrete building was clad with a shiny thermal insulation and the window frames were replaced with plastic as a part of the refurbishment.

The cladding that was used is best described as a “sandwich of aluminium and insulating foam".

The fire started when a small kitchen fire penetrated the window and ignited the cladding.

Once this occurred, the aluminium and the insulation which formed this cladding burned fiercely .

The best way to describe what happened is to imagine that the building was sheathed in plastic bags full of petrol - because it might as well have been.

Can you see the potential risks associated with shoddy construction practises?

Remember to keep FIRE SAFETY in mind

The consequences of not doing so can be devastating

HAVE A THINK ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS FOR A MINUTE

I have to share this with you because it really highlights how much complacency and/or just out and out neglect can contribute to workplace injury and/or property damage.

My wife and I were out shopping over the weekend and we wandered in to one of the major retail outlets to have a browse around.

While we were wandering around I noticed a fire extinguisher hanging on the wall.

What piqued my interest was the height that the extinguisher was mounted from the floor.

I'm about 175cm tall (just over 5 feet 8 inches in the "old language") and this extinguisher was mounted below my waistline, so the first thing that went through my mind was

"Any child that is basically old enough to walk could access this."

Now, if you're thinking to yourself "There's nothing wrong with that" I would beg to differ - this extinguisher was not light - I'd say around the 4-6kg mark - and if a young child had the strength to somehow get it over the "lugs" of the extinguisher wall mounting bracket they could do themself some pretty serious injury if it fell on them.

A further concern of mine was that the extinguisher itself was a dry powder extinguisher and it would be very easy for a curious set of "little hands" to discharge the extinguisher if they were able to pull out the safety pin (which was just at the right height for "little fingers" to get at).

"So what?" I hear you say, but here's the thing - dry powder extinguishers can be quite dangerous if they are discharged around people with respiratory conditions, so can you see another potential danger that needed to be addressed?

That's not the half of it!!!

The extinguisher signage above this particular extinguisher caught my eye because of how shoddy it looked - it was tattered and torn and seriously needed replacing - and when I had a good look at it I could not believe my eyes.

They Had A Water Extinguisher Sign Above A Dry Powder Extinguisher!!!

That was it - "They have no idea" was all I could say - but then I was horrified to see that less than a month ago this same extinguisher had been serviced by a "qualified" technician!!!

What do I do? - off I go to the front desk and asked to speak to the store manager and a short time later I was showing this person the potential risks on "her watch".

The manager was flabbergasted - "We only had our extinguishers serviced last month" was all she could say - and then thanked me for bringing this to her attention and noted everything down to bring to the attention of their Safety Officer when this person returned to work the next day.

Have a look around your workplace for the fire safety equipment there the next time you're back at work - this type of equipment is often "forgotten" in the day to day running of business until there's a fire and when that happens, working out if your equipment can save yours and those around you can be too late if the answer is "this thing doesn't work!!!"

Remember - think FIRE SAFETY - it will save lives

THE TOWERING INFERNO WAS TAME

You would remember Steve McQueen’s classic 1974 film called “Towering Inferno” which told the story of a multi-storey building's catastrophic fire trapping people on the top floor.

It highlighted how failures in the application of the building code due to cost cutting measures by the owners can lead to a firefighting disaster.

Well, history has repeated itself over recent times.

What happened in London’s Grenfell Tower disaster in June 2017 made what happened in "Towering Inferno” look tame and the similarities between what happened in the Grenfell Tower fire and the movie "Towering Inferno" are frightening.

If you're based in Australia, you don't have to look too far to see an example of a similar fire in Melbourne’s Lacrosse Building in The Docklands in 2014.

Fires like this are preventable, but what can you do to help?

That's easy - contact your local council office and/or local Member of Parliament and tell them that you won’t tolerate building approvals of any size that are not up to the National Construction Code - if they know you're watching, they will be much more diligent in ensuring that future construction meets the required Standards.

Remember to think FIRE SAFETY - it will save lives

DON’T SELL THE CHILDREN SHORT!

There are parents alive today solely because they trusted their children enough to teach them what to do in the event of an emergency.

Even children as young as 4 can act appropriately when confronted with a dangerous situation.

Children's understanding of danger doesn't happen by accident - when opportunities present themselves, it's up to you as their parent and/or guardian to go through the “game” of miming the 000 call, evacuating the premises, alerting people to danger, etc.

“We need the fire service (or ambulance service, or a policeman) “

“My name is…., - (what’s wrong) - we live at (address) - our phone number is----"

Adapt this game to your children’s age - make it fun for them so that they are keen to learn what to do in an emergency and keep teaching them about this aspect of life so that they continue to

think FIRE SAFETY

NO MATCH FOR CHILDREN

It happens again and again - children under the age of 12 playing with matches and/or lighters and the house gets burnt to the ground.

Statistics show that children 12 years and older are aware of the risks associated with fire, but children under the age of 12 have little to no understanding of the consequences of their actions when they light fires.

You can’t eliminate matches and lighters - they are a part of everyday life - but you can influence who has access to them and your children's understanding of the risks associated with them.

When you use matches and/or lighters remember to include the children in the action - that's right - Let Them Use Them With You!!!

This way, they get to experience the use of matches and/or lighters UNDER SUPERVISION and learn that they are not "play things".

If they make a mistake and burn their finger, a lesson in what can happen has just been taught.

Teach your children by example so that they will think FIRE SAFETY

FIRE ON THE BUSES

Let's face it - everyone has travelled by bus somewhere.

When there is a fire in the bus, at least the bus can stop and let people off.

Most bus fires come from the engine - will cause a lot of smoke - and if that is at the front bus, prevents passengers from escaping.

When travelling by bus - both suburban buses and interstate coach lines - look for the exits and the different ways of opening these exits.

Ways to exit emergency exits may range from pushing hard against glass and/or breaking glass with the hammer supplied.

Get used to looking for emergency exits on buses so you are prepared in the event of a fire on one.

Remember - think FIRE SAFETY

AIR TRAVEL - THE CLOUDS LOOK LIKE SMOKE!

Air travel is as common nowadays as sea travel once was ..

While millions of people travel every day, hazardous incidents will occur.

Fires INSIDE aircraft cabins are very dangerous.

When seated, count the number of seats between you and the exits in case you can’t see them due to smoke.

Always report a smell of smoke - don’t wait until you see it.

If it is a fire, DO NOT BREATHE IN THE SMOKE .

If the fire is nearby, move away from it and let the crew try to extinguish it.

Remember - follow crew directions and think FIRE SAFETY

SAME OLD SAME OLD

Every week there is another story about a narrow escape from a burning house alerted to danger by a neighbour.

Every week there is another story of someone who didn’t make it.

Just what is it about the words SMOKE ALARM that makes people ignore them?

They let batteries go flat or take the batteries out to use in a toy - or let so much dust accumulate that no smoke can penetrate them.

Fortunately, every week there is another story about occupants escaping a burning house because the smoke alarm worked for them .

Look after your smoke alarm - think FIRE SAFETY

Welcome To The Fire Safety & Electrical Blog

We would like to welcome you to the Fire Safety & Electrical Blog!!!

Our goal here is to provide you with ideas on how to protect your workplace from the incident of fire and other Lost Time Incident events.

Over the coming weeks, months and years we will share with you hints, tips and information that we come across to make your workplace safer.

If ever you have questions and/or comments about any of our posts please contact us via email at enquiries@firesafetyandelectrical.com.au - we'll be happy to hear from you.

Our goal with the information here is quite simple - think FIRE SAFETY