When it comes to your business’s fire preparedness, take no chances! Fire safety equipment is crucial in any workplace environment. You must have a tested, functioning alarm system, fire extinguishers, and a comprehensive fire escape plan for your workplace in an emergency. 

Maintenance of fire safety equipment is a significant responsibility for business owners. Regular upkeep of fire safety equipment should be consistently undertaken, ensuring compliance with the Australian fire standards. 

Here is the ultimate guide to fire equipment maintenance for businesses, encompassing smoke alarms, extinguishers, fire blankets, egress plans, and more! Read on to ensure you’re up-to-date with fire safety standards and, if not, learn how to comply to protect your employees and business assets. 

What is Fire Safety Equipment?  

Fire safety equipment covers a broad area of equipment, both hand-held and battery-operated, typically found in the workplace. Broadly speaking, fire safety equipment in the workplace covers items such as:  

  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fire blankets
  • Smoke alarms
  • A prominently displayed fire safety plan within the workplace
  • Clearly marked fire exits, compliant with Australian fire safety standards building codes

Which Australian standard covers the maintenance of fire extinguishers?  

For businesses, they must meet more specific legal requirements, as part of the Australian Fire Standards, one standard, known as AS 1851 Standard, governs the fire system maintenance and storage of fire safety equipment. All businesses must adhere to Australian fire standards and should always have the following fire safety equipment on-site.  

  • Fire alarms are installed and either hard-wired into the electrical system or routinely tested
    and batteries replaced when necessary
  • Fire exit signage is posted near the fire exit doors
  • At least one easily-accessible fire extinguisher is on-site and has passed inspection by a licensed
    fire inspector
  • Your business location adheres to all Australian fire safety building codes, including having
    multiple points of egress via doors, windows, and easy access to a fire escape

What Maintenance Does Fire Safety Equipment Need? 

A certain fire equipment service is required by law and required by your business insurance company. This includes functioning, tested fire alarms and regularly inspected fire extinguishers. Common fire equipment maintenance involves:  

  • Visual inspections of fire blankets to check for signs of wear and tear. If present, replacements
    will be necessary
  • Fire extinguisher maintenance is essential. Visual inspections of fire extinguishers to check for damage.
    Similarly, a replacement will be required if signs of damage are present, such as a broken pin,
    excess rust on the metal exterior, or a compromised lever system
  • Regular testing (once a month or so) of smoke alarms. If your smoke alarm goes off randomly, it’s
    likely that its batteries are low and need to be replaced
  • Updating fire plans (as part of your fire equipment services) after any workplace layout changes
    or renovations

Fire Maintenance Best Practices 

Even though office fires are rare, comprehensive preparation is vital. Adhering to these fire equipment maintenance best practices will ensure the safety of your workplace and employees. 

Check Your Smoke Alarm Systems Regularly 

The primary fire safety equipment essential for offices is a smoke alarm. Typically powered by mains power, it’s crucial to conduct regular tests. Best practice involves biannual inspection by a qualified service technician. 

Visually Inspect Your Fire Extinguisher For Signs of Damage 

If your fire extinguisher is overdue for inspection and replacement is not yet feasible, visually examine it for signs of rust on the outer casing or damage to the pin, pull-tab, handle, and nozzle. Any fraying in the nozzle or breaks on the handle or pin could render your fire extinguisher ineffective during an emergency. Plan for immediate replacement. Avoid storing extinguishers in damp locations to prevent casing rust.

Have a Staff Meeting About Fire Planning 

Conversations about potential disasters like fires are necessary for workplace safety. Practicing and understanding the necessary steps during an emergency is crucial. Educate all staff members about evacuation procedures, regardless of their location in the office. 

Ensure employees know fire safety measures, including ‘stop, drop, and roll’ and know the nearest escape route. Familiarize all staff with the location of fire extinguishers and how to operate them effectively. 

Inspect Emergency Lighting Systems 

Certain offices might activate emergency lighting systems during power outages, common during fire incidents. Regularly visually inspect and test these systems to guarantee their proper functioning in emergencies. 

3 Types of Fire Asset Management 

When taking stock of your fire prevention strategies as a business, it’s important that you understand what ‘fire asset management’ is and how conducting proper fire asset management can improve your readiness in the event of a fire. 

Below are the three types of fire asset management. These make up important parts of your fire system servicing and code of fire prevention. 

Prevention and Preparedness Management 

If you own a large-scale business with many employees, retraining and re-drilling them on fire prevention and fire safety equipment maintenance is always beneficial. Known as Prevention and Preparedness Management, this type of fire asset management should take place annually if not every six months.  

Depending on your work environment and whether a fire has recently occurred (even a small one extinguished by an employee), you may need to frequently perform fire prevention and preparedness discussions and training. 

The more prepared one is in the event, the less likely they are to panic and make rash, counterproductive and potentially fatal decisions. 

Firefighting and Suppression Management 

When it comes to firefighting and suppression management in the workplace, it’s important that your on-site teams always know the locations of fire extinguishers, as well as any other specialist equipment they may need, such as A-FFF foam for dealing with chemical fires, or the location of fire blankets. It’s also important that your staff knows when a fire is not their responsibility and when to get out of the building and let the professionals handle the situation. 

Post-Fire Recovery and Rehabilitation Management 

Suppose the worst has happened, and you’ve been unfortunate enough to have a major fire in your workplace or home. Understanding your options with your employer or business insurance company will play a key part in your post-fire recovery process. 

Additionally, any rehabilitation that needs to take place on a personal level for injuries sustained during a fire, or mental health checkups for residual trauma from such an event must take priority over re-opening your workplace or battling with an insurance company for fire damage coverage for your business. 

The Importance of Safety and Fire-Fighting Equipment 

Learning how to use fire-fighting equipment safely and effectively is critical. Maintaining and regularly checking equipment like fire extinguishers, fire blankets, and smoke alarms reduces response time during a fire emergency. 

Strategic Fire Safety Maintenance Schedules 

When it comes to the maintenance of fire safety equipment, there is a schedule of maintenance typically printed onto your fire extinguisher or a recommendation from a smoke alarm manufacturer for when to replace your smoke alarm. 

A strategic way of fire equipment maintenance could be replacing your fire extinguisher after each inspection cycle or replacing the batteries in your smoke alarm every six months. Or, if your smoke alarm has been going off randomly, it may be time to replace the entire unit. Monthly inspections of things like fire blankets and corresponding replacement, if necessary, is also important.  

By maintaining a tightly adhered to maintenance schedule, you know that your equipment is always good to go in the event of a fire! 

What Type of Fire Equipment Needs To Be Checked?  

In general, you need to check the function of your fire extinguisher, smoke alarms, and emergency lights (if you have them). 

Final Thoughts 

Neglecting fire equipment maintenance in a business setting can have severe consequences. Proper assessment and replacement of equipment when necessary are critical for the safety of employees and the protection of business assets. Don’t overlook fire equipment maintenance; it could be a life-saving decision.  

Contact our expert team today to discuss your needs. We provide a full range of services, including mechanical, and we work with clients from a range of industries

A large multi-campus Victorian client had experienced a fire services diesel fuel pump failure where the pump was called to start on a weekend due to a fault in the system. The nature of the fault did not call the fire brigade and as a result, no one knew the pump was in operation. As there was no means of identifying the pump was operating all diesel fuel reserves held in the pumps tanks the pump completely depleted. This resulted in a significant failure of the pump and a replacement be installed – a several thousand-dollar exercise.

The client looked at several options, including running a signal to the BMS which was an extremely costly exercise due to the location of the pump.

Hirotec was able to install our wireless HiroLytics solution incorporating a fuel level sensor in the pumps tank. Trigger alarms via SMS and Email were set at 75% full mark (per AS1851:2012) and a second alert trigger at 50% full.

Additionally, both the client and Hirotec can remotely monitor fuel level via a web-based dashboard identifying any fuel depletion spikes which may warrant further investigation.

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Following a successful relationship of over 10 years, Hirotec are proud to have extended the Maintenance Contract for the provision of HVAC services for ACT Schools with ACT Property Group for a further 2 years.

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Project // Fire Gas Suppression Installation
Project Value // $1.5M 
Completion //  September 2020 

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The existing bank is an original 1900’s build, where the original air conditioning installation of over 25 years ago was based on a smaller area with an open plan arrangement. We identified that the existing system had passed its life cycle and required replacement to achieve better performance and comfort conditions along with lower running costs. 

Our project team conducted a full site review and assessment, identifying that the existing system was also under sized by approximately 8kW, and selected a larger Actron Split Ducted System to complete the upgrade. Our Canberra team completed the majority of the decommission, removal and installation of the new system long with the local support of electrical contractors, rigging companies and waste management.  

Hirotec will continue to provide complete end to end design, engineering, installation and maintenance solutions for our national clients.

Thank you to NAB and the local Bega business partners. 

Following a successful relationship that commenced in 2013, Hirotec are proud to have extended the Mechanical and Electrical Services contract with Jones Lang LaSalle for the IBM commercial portfolio nationally for a further 12 months.

IBM is a multinational consulting and technology company that provides hardware, software, cloud-based services and cognitive computing across the globe.