Any fire, no matter whether it’s big or small is disastrous for a business. Fire protection testing is critical for every business as it has been estimated that up to 90% of fires are preventable.
Fire protection testing involves getting your business routinely inspected to check that it is meeting fire safety standards. Depending on the size of your business, this can include checking fire extinguishers, testing domestic smoke detectors, checking fire blankets and where appropriate checking fire hose reels.
Do I need fire protection testing for my business?
Every business should have fire protection equipment on their premises and should be undertaking regular fire protection testing. It’s an important step for you as a business owner to protect you, your employees, onsite visitors, your business and premises. All equipment requires regular testing to ensure that it is fit for purpose. It’s particularly important with fire equipment that isn’t used regularly because it needs to be ready to go if it’s needed.
Many businesses are non-compliant with fire standards because they don’t get their equipment serviced regularly enough or because their equipment isn’t kept in an appropriate position where it is readily accessible. Don’t let your business be one of them.
What fire protection equipment do I need?
It’s always best to consult the experts to get an individual assessment for your business. But depending on the size and type of your business, the fire protection equipment you should have can include fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, fire blankets and if necessary, fire hose reels.
Fire extinguishers are the easiest way to protect your business in the event of a fire. It is estimated over 90% of all fires are first extinguished with a portable fire extinguisher, so if there is a fire at your premises, you want to be certain that the fire extinguisher will work as it is intended to.
How often does my fire extinguisher need to be tested?
It is mandatory for fire extinguishers to be tested every six months under the Australian Standard AS/NZ 1851. You should ensure that the professional who tests your fire extinguisher is aware of these standards and tests your extinguishers to these standards.
In addition to the six-monthly routine testing, extinguishers also need to be pressure tested and refilled on a regular basis and there may be other servicing requirements at 12 months, 3 and 5 years.
What is fire extinguisher testing?
The six-monthly routine test of your fire extinguisher will involve the technician checking several things relating to your extinguisher including:
- Accessible location of the fire extinguisher;
- Intact anti-tamper device;
- Legible operating instructions;
- Visible service tag or label;
- Clean and undamaged extinguisher;
- Securely fitted hose and nozzle;
- Visible location sign for the extinguisher; and
- Appropriately fitted to the wall with the correct support bracket.
The technician will also check the pressure and weight of your extinguisher and in the case of a powder extinguisher, they’ll turn it upside down to ensure the powder is moving freely. The powder inside extinguishers can become hard (like concrete) if powder extinguishers are not regularly inverted as part of your fire protection testing procedure.
When your technician has finished testing your extinguisher, they will record the test on a label or metal tag attached to the unit. It’s a good idea to establish a regular testing agreement with your fire protection supplier and ensure that they keep records of the tests that have been conducted on your premises. This provides an external record that your business is complying with regulations and can assist in the event of insurance claims.
It is important to make sure that no one other than the technician touches the fire extinguisher except in the case of fire. It should never be moved from its assigned location and if used to extinguish a fire, no matter how small, it should be immediately checked by a fire professional.
Fire Blankets – Do I need one?
If your business has a commercial kitchen, then you should have at least one fire blanket which should be located in or adjacent to the kitchen. Fire blankets are used for Class F fires and liquid or clothing fires. Your fire safety professional will be able to advise you on the best place to locate your fire blanket and also advise how many blankets you need.
It is mandatory that fire blankets are tested on a regular basis, at least every six months. If you suspect that your fire blanket has been tampered with or damaged, it should be checked immediately.
It’s important that no one touches the fire blanket apart from the technicians who check it or when it is used to extinguish a fire. The location of a fire blanket should be clearly indicated with signage as if someone needs it, it’s vital that it’s there and ready to go. If the fire blanket is used in a fire emergency, no matter how small, it should be checked as soon as possible by your fire protection supplier to ensure that it is still operational and doesn’t need replaced.
Fire Hose Reels
Fire hose reels can be used by any member of the general public but if there is one on your premises then it is your responsibility to maintain it, and this can be done as part of your regular fire protection testing along with the testing of fire extinguishers and fire blankets.
Domestic Smoke Alarms
Don’t forget to protect your home. It’s essential to get domestic smoke alarms tested regularly. It’s been estimated that smoke alarms can reduce fire deaths from house fires by up to 60%. A reputable technician can test the effectiveness of the smoke detectors in your home with a professional smoke simulation which shows conclusively whether the detectors are in the right position to give you sufficient warning of a fire within the building. Smoke alarm testing should be in compliance with the Fire Standards from the BCA (Building Code of Australia).
Who do I contact for fire protection testing?
There are many companies who undertake fire protection testing for businesses. It’s important when selecting a supplier to ensure that their processes meet the Australian standards for fire protection testing. The technician who visits your premises should have undergone comprehensive training and the business should be a member of the Fire Protection Authority of Australia to ensure you are getting the highest standard of service.
The experts at Jim’s Test & Tag conduct fire safety testing and can advise you on what equipment you need for your business, how often it needs to be checked, where it should be positioned and how to maintain it between visits. As part of Jim’s Test & Tag fire safety services, records are kept of all fire safety tests conducted on your premises giving you peace of mind.
You can combine your fire protection testing with the testing of electrical appliances through Jim’s Test & Tag so both sets of testing can be performed in one visit minimising disruption to your workplace. The technician can also test emergency lighting and first aid kits in the same visit.
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