This article about the benefits of good housekeeping for fire safety in apartments has been written by Greg McCulloch, Westside Fire Services.
The Western Australian Building Commission has provided guidance on Fire Safety in Apartment Buildings. Good housekeeping, effective maintenance and routine servicing are paramount in ensuring the building occupants are safe in the event of a fire. While the building may have good active and passive fire measures, they will be of little use if there is bad housekeeping. It is the responsibility of all owners and occupants to ensure good housekeeping is met.
A summary of the Building Commission’s housekeeping recommendations is:
Keeping Fire Stairs and Escape Routes Clear
Escape routes should be free of any obstruction – strictly no storage anywhere on common escape stairs and in corridors
- Storage in escape routes can contribute to fire load and render the building unsafe.
- Obstructions make it difficult to exit in a fire evacuation event and hinder access for firefighters.
Keeping Fire Cabinets Storage Free
The storage of materials in fire cabinets or cupboards can delay access for occupants or firefighters who may require the equipment in an emergency.
Not Interfering With Fire Safety Componets
It is essential that any fire safety service is not interfered with as this could affect its operation in an emergency event. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Never tampering with smoke alarms – they are an important part in providing building occupants with a warning in the event of a fire, particularly where occupants are sleeping.
- Never storing things high up that could block sprinkler heads or smoke alarms.
Reducing Fire Hazards
It is important to reduce the chance of a fire and prevent it from spreading into escape routes:
- Power board electrical safety – poor maintenance and incorrect usage of power boards can start a fire.
- Never wedge open fire doors – a fire door is required to be self-closing, which is important in restricting fire or smoke from spreading into escape areas giving occupants sufficient time to escape.
Minimising the Amount of Combustible Materials in and Around the Building
Excessive amounts of combustible materials, including household rubbish, should not be stored in or around the building including (but not limited to) balconies and inside individual units. Ensure rubbish bins are not stored against the external walls of the building.
Fixing Defects Found in Fire Safety Equipment
Fix or promptly report faulty fire safety issues to the responsible person for immediate rectification – this may include;
- Faulty escape lighting (light flickering or not working).
- Faulty smoke alarms (flashing light and/or beeping sound).
- Damaged signage.
- Fire doors not self-closing or latching properly.
- Penetrations through fire rated walls or floors not sealed or protected appropriately.
Routine servicing is essential to demonstrate fire safety systems and equipment are continuing to operate, and to identify any faults or defects that require rectification or repair.
Important Information – Fire Safety in Apartments
The Western Australian Building Commission’s fact sheet on Apartment fire safety can be found here: Fire Safety in Apartment Fact Sheet.
- WA: False Fire Alarms – Top Tips to Avoid a Financial Penalty
- WA: Q&A Requirements for Evacuation Notices and Planning for Emergencies
This post appears in Strata News #264.
Have a question about good housekeeping, effective maintenance and routine servicing or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.