As the weather heats up and retailers look forward to Christmas and New Year sales, stores are filling shelves and storage areas with increased levels of stock. In doing so, it is important that stores a maintain vigilance and check stock is stored safely, fire equipment remains accessible, and sprinkler systems and fire exits are clear to help avoid a fire disaster.
John Lynch from fire protection specialist Wormald warns, “During the busy holiday trading season we see many retailers overloading their storage areas. In doing so, they risk affecting the spray pattern of their sprinkler heads. In the event of a fire, sprinklers may not function properly and they risk losing everything. We are urging store owners and managers to undertake a fire safety audit of their premises in the lead up to Christmas to reduce potential fire hazards.”
“Fire extinguishers must be checked every six months to ensure they are in an operational condition. Fire hoses also need to be checked for corrosion and cracks. It is also critical that there is clear access to the fire extinguishers and fire hose reels, so they can be used without delay if the need arises. Remember, insurance premiums may be affected if fire equipment isn’t working properly and losses may not be covered if equipment is found to be lacking,” he continued.
Fire can result in significant losses due to commercial property damage and can also impact businesses with substantial costs resulting from personal injuries, damage to stock and property and lengthy downtime.
Wormald recommends the following risk reduction strategies:
- Check your storage areas to ensure excess boxes are not blocking the sprinkler heads. Stock stored under a sprinkler head should have a gap from the underside of the sprinkler head of at least 500mm.
- Ensure you have appropriate fire safety equipment for certain stock or new stock items that may require a different fire extinguisher. For example, some hazardous materials require Carbon Dioxide (CO2) fire extinguishers rather than Powder extinguishers.
- Ensure fire safety equipment is maintained and serviced. Fire extinguishers and hose reels are required to be tested every six months. Check the yellow tag around the neck of the fire extinguisher and around the nozzle of hose reels to check when they were last serviced.
- Make sure floor stock is not blocking fire exists and access to fire extinguishers and hose reels is easily accessible.
- Take a walk around the store to ensure all exit signs are clearly visible and that fire doors are open and not blocked with excess stock, or worse still, barred or locked.
- Train staff on the use of fire equipment and procedures. With many retailers employing casual staff over the holiday trading season, it is important to ensure all staff is trained on how to use fire safety equipment and that they know what to do in the event of a fire emergency.
Most fires are preventable and many can be contained if the right fire safety solutions are in place and people are trained to respond appropriately.
For more information visit www.wormald.com.au