This article about the benefits of good housekeeping for fire safety in apartments has been written by Greg McCulloch, Westside Fire Services.
Table of Contents:
- QUESTION: Can my strata company fine me for keeping pot plants on common property?
- ARTICLE: Good Housekeeping Goes Beyond Your Front Door
Question: Can my strata company fine me for keeping pot plants on common property?
I am an owner-occupier. Can my strata company fine me for keeping pot plants on common property?
They have asked me to move my pot plants from my front door. They have been there for 9 years with no problem. Everybody got an email asking that we remove anything on common property including plant pots or they will issue a fine.
My pot plants are not a safety hazard. People can easily get passed them. Could you please tell me if strata can issue a fine if I reuse to move them?
Answer: The strata by-laws should determine if a fine can be imposed or not.
It is not clear if the pot plants are in an access way. If they are then they should be removed as they are a potential trip hazard and will be a source of fuel in the event of fire.
The strata by-laws should determine if a fine can be imposed or not.
3.2 People who have control of a workplace or control of the access to and egress from a workplace, such as the building manager or site manager
Under Section 22 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984, people who have, to any extent, control of a workplace must ensure, as practicable, that the workplace and all entrances and exits are safe so that people may enter, leave and use the workplace without exposure to hazards.
This section of the Act applies to a person who has any control of:
- a workplace where people who are not employees of that person are likely to be in the course of their work; Or
- the means of access to and egress from a workplace.
This includes owners and lessors of premises who may have no involvement with the work activity carried on by employers or others at the premises but have retained some control over the premises.
The duty imposed by Section 22 relates to the physical condition of the workplace and all access ways used to enter and exit, including roads, walkways, doorways and lifts. Areas of control may also include stairways, car parks and common foyers and gardens shared by tenants. Fire prevention and control and emergency evacuation would be part of the duty to ensure that people at the workplace could exit safely.
Section 22 duties are limited to the areas that are under the person’s control and it is important that the areas of control are clearly defined in contracts between parties.
In many instances, an employer will have control over their own premises and the responsibility for the means of access and egress to and from the premises. In this case, the employer must also ensure that anyone else’s employees are not exposed to hazards on the premises. The employer’s duty to provide his or her own employees with a safe working environment still applies and includes the specific requirements listed on the previous page.
The following checklist is a brief outline of the legislative requirements for the person who has control of a workplace or control of the access to or egress from a workplace.
- Emergency evacuation procedures have been developed.
- Fire prevention and control equipment have been provided.
- Entrances and exits are safe and all tenants and any other people at the workplace are able to exit safely, for example, the exits actually work and are not obstructed.
This post appears in Strata News #406.
Article: Good Housekeeping Goes Beyond Your Front Door
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.
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.
Please note this advice was provided prior to the proclamation of the new strata title amendments and will be updated in due course.
- WA: False Fire Alarms – Top Tips to Avoid a Financial Penalty
- WA: Q&A Requirements for Evacuation Notices and Planning for Emergencies
Looking for strata information concerning your state? For state-specific strata information, try here.