We see many examples in the media of the consequences of fires in homes and high-rise dwellings around the world. Many incidents end in tragic loss of life and those that don’t incur major financial cost and disruption to normal routines. In countries with little or no fire regulation this is not surprising, but here in Australia we can do better.
Fire Can Spread Quickly in Modern Dwellings
Our fire-fighting experts tell us that a small fire can engulf a room completely in two minutes and spread throughout the dwelling in less than five. Most modern furnishings are made from highly flammable synthetic materials. They also generate toxic smoke and fumes that are known to quickly overcome occupants.
This is why fire safety and the maintenance of fire equipment is always a top priority item in the group living schemes we manage. WA Strata Management employs experienced and highly trained professional strata company managers who are fully aware of the importance of this aspect of the Council’s responsibilities.
Regular Reviews of Fire Equipment Keep Maintenance a Top Priority
We are able to keep these responsibilities uppermost in mind in a few different ways. When we start working with a new Council, we may request a schedule of any equipment used to maintain the common areas. This would typically include fire equipment such as alarm systems, extinguishers, fire hose reels, smoke detectors and any other items required by the relevant legislation.
This type of review checks that all legal requirements have been met, that equipment has been tested and tagged as required and that any inferior equipment is identified as needing replacement. Depending on the size and complexity of the task, this check is often best outsourced to fire services experts. They are private operators whose business it is to know the technical details of the equipment and any changes to legislation that might require the purchase of new items.
Budget for Maintenance and Replacement of Fire Equipment
Another useful technique is the draft budget which the strata manager prepares for the Council to consider. Here we cost the maintenance of fire equipment for the common areas. When the budget is finalised and approved by the Council, the strata manager could then schedule the maintenance activities into the calendar as required.
Evacuation Procedures Save Lives
A critically important part of fire safety is to have a compliant evacuation program in place, especially in a high-rise, multi-unit complex. This requires specific actions and other legislative requirements that our management staff are familiar with. Their knowledge, in conjunction with private fire safety specialists, is invaluable to Councils that might otherwise struggle to handle their responsibilities in this area.
When fire safety is treated as a priority, the consequences in a multiple occupancy premises are far less dire than when the correct equipment and processes are in place.