Fire safety is a concern in public spaces such as commercial buildings. Typically, a fire threat could lead to injuries as people scamper for safety. On the other hand, the occurrence of fire could cause property damage, injuries, and loss of life if the building does not have fire prevention and control mechanisms.
In Australia, all commercial buildings should incorporate essential safety standards. Typically, the building design should help prevent and combat fires. Moreover, the building should have fire safety equipment to reduce or prevent fire damage. A building that meets this standard receives an occupation certificate that deems it safe for tenants and their clients. However, over time, the fire response equipment could become dysfunctional. For instance, wiring issues could affect the fire alarm's functionality. On the other hand, unscrupulous individuals could damage the extinguisher's operating mechanisms. When this happens, the building becomes unsafe for occupants.
For this reason, the Australian government compels property owners to conduct annual fire safety assessments to establish the condition of fire safety equipment. The inspection examines the following;
- The functionality of the alarm system. For instance, are the heat sensors functional? Does the alarm send a signal to the fire department? Do the sprinklers have sufficient water pressure?
- The functionality of the emergency lighting system. Remember, these lights guide people to the emergency exit during a fire.
- The size and location of the emergency exits. These exits must be accessible to everyone in the building.
- The condition of the fire extinguishers. For instance, are the extinguishers appropriate for the fires that could erupt in the building? Are the locking pins intact? Does the extinguisher have sufficient pressure?
- The presence of mould and dirt in the ventilation systems. These contaminants affect the flow of hot air and smoke during a fire.
- Whether the building has sufficient emergency water supply to help put out fires.
After the assessment, the owner receives an annual fire safety statement detailing the functionality of the various fire response equipment and strategies. If they are in excellent condition, the property owner gets a fire safety certificate that certifies the building has the required fire response and prevention mechanisms. Usually, the document should be displayed at the entrance to ensure people who access the building have confidence in its safety.
If the building does not meet the required standard, the owner must make improvements to ensure the building complies with the essential safety standards. Once these improvements are made, the owner receives the fire safety certificate.
When conducting annual fire assessments, the rule is to hire an accredited practitioner to conduct the annual fire inspection. The professional will inspect the essential safety measures and give recommendations to ensure the building meets the required standard.