Redmen Fire Protection Management handles warehouse distribution centre fire protection for many facilities around Sydney, Newcastle and the NSW Central Coast. We have expertise in ensuring you never face a fire catastrophe. In the interest of informing the business community, here are our top warehouse fire safety tips. These will help you prevent or minimize damage to product and facility, pauses in production, or possible injury or death, caused by a fire in your building.
Call it what you want. Any business which has actual tangible goods to sell is going to need a storeroom, a storehouse, a depot, depository, repository, stockroom, magazine, granary, silo, or even just a humble lock-up.
Whatever you have, you must ensure you install both active and passive fire protection system during construction and that it remains in good working order.
Active fire protection systems include:
This equipment needs triggering by smoke or actual flames to activate.
On the other hand, passive fire prevention refers to fire doors and fireproofed stairs. They are part of the building structure and work instantly to prevent fire from spreading, or compromising the structure of the building.
A qualified fire prevention expert should inspect fire protection systems at least once per year to function correctly.
It is also vital that all staff are familiar with the fire safety standards and how each system works in case of emergency to act fast. Regular fire safety training is also essential.
We have a particular focus on warehouse distribution centre facilities with a storage area of 2000 square metres and up. However, whatever the size of your building, please reach out and we’ll be glad to set you on the road to assured fire safety.
The biggest risks to a warehouse’s safety comes from outside.
One of the most catastrophic fires in terms of property damage of this century occurred in Los Angeles, California. In 2008 Universal Music Group’s warehouse of priceless music and cinematic treasures was destroyed by fire. This fire started when a tradesman working on a roof used a blowtorch to warm asphalt shingles that he was applying to a facade. He left before checking that all spots were sufficiently cool. As a result, a three-alarm fire broke out.
So, it’s the visitors who are unfamiliar with proper safety procedures. It’s also the goods that are potentially igniters such as lithium ion batteries or highly combustible fuel such as plastics.
These are who and what pose the biggest threat when it comes to fire safety and prevention in your building.
This includes delivery drivers and tradespeople who come on site and don’t understand your safety protocols. To reduce fire and safety risk, it’s good practice to ensure the warehouse has fire protection systems installed. See below for more information. All visitors should undergo some form of OHS training and induction before working in your depots and storehouses.
If you do have tradespeople on site, especially those doing work which may involve possible sources of sparks, we recommend isolating the work area and giving it an added degree of supervision.
This sort of work can include:
Too often, we get the call after an incident occurs. With advanced notice however, Redmen can help create safe situations so all electrical, plumbing, and other trade works are isolated before construction, repairs, or maintenance begins. This can not only reduce financial outlay following an incident, but the preparation can prevent injury or death also.
Staff rooms and all entries and exits need to be clear of stock, garbage and recyclables.
Properly store and dispose of materials such as cardboard, packing foam, plastic wrapping and pallets.
Like with any workplace, staff should get a proper onboarding. This should include fire extinguisher training so they do not pose a risk to the building and other employees. Fire safety is everybody’s responsibility, so it’s important your people know what to look for, and how to act, to help prevent a fire starting. These are just some areas that you should cover in your onboarding process. Repetition is an important part of learning, so ensure mentioning fire safety regularly in staff meetings or in communication via staff notices.
Restrict smoking to certain locations on site with wall or ground-mounted ashtrays available (powder coated metal and sand-filled are ideal). These need emptying regularly so cigarette butts don’t create a fire.
In the 21st Century, with all the health dangers of smoking known, perhaps ban it all together. Perhaps include smoking cessation programs in your package of benefits for workers.
Electrical equipment and combustible materials need proper maintenance and monitoring. That electrical equipment needs regularly checking to make sure it isn’t faulty.
Fire safety equipment, such as ceiling sprinklers, should also get regular maintenance to ensure proper functioning in the eventuality of fire. However, also that they don’t leak and damage warehouse supplies.
Staff should also have a clear understanding of evacuation procedures and what to do in the event of an emergency.
Warehouse distribution centre fire protection has some unique regulations. For example, roller doors need a certain sized fire extinguisher located near them. This is because more air can enter the building compared to a regular doorway. Because of this the volume of fire suppressant in the extinguisher needs to be sufficient in putting out the fire.
At least one fire warden needs to work on each shift at the warehouse to assist in the event of an emergency. The warehouse designed should include multiple exit and assembly points (muster points) so there are a variety of escape routes and safe areas to congregate, given the large scale of these buildings.
Your warehouse or distribution centre is often the hub of your business operations. Don’t let a fire imperil your ability to operate smoothly.
During the construction of your storehouse or depository, you must ensure that fire safety is a key consideration.
Passive fire protection or fire stoppers are construction measures that you take to either stop a fire starting or stopping it from spreading. See our passive fire protection page for more information.
Here are the passive fire safety elements to consider:
Fireproof your stairs to prevent fire from travelling up the stairwell.
Fire-resistant stairs significantly reduce fire damage, reduce repair costs and prevent injuries or death that a fire can cause.
A fire door is an integral part of any warehouse’s safety hardware. They are fire resistant doors that still allow for an easy escape upon opening.
Fire curtains and walls work by limiting the spread of a fire.
Fire sprinklers extinguish or limit a fire through a water spray triggered by heat. They do not usually activate through smoke detection.
A fire or smoke alarm system is mandatory for almost every building with public access. A fire alarm notifies everyone inside when there has been a fire. The necessary steps are then either to evacuate safely or take measures to extinguish it.
Traditionally, fire alarms have manual pull stations next to doors people can raise the alarm and get help quickly. However, some modern systems use sensors.
The fire blanket is a fire safety item found in in functional rooms such as kitchens. It must be fire-retarding and easily accessible to employees and visitors.
A fire blanket’s purpose is to smother small fires, such as those caused by faulty electrical appliances or in cooking. You can also use them to wrap around people if their clothes catch on fire.
A fire extinguisher provides temporary protection against small fires. It is vital to have portable fire extinguishers in easy-to-reach locations.
Once a warehouse is in use, you must conduct a statutory fire risk assessments inside and outside the building to identify the potential causes of fire. These ensure that you are in compliance and allow you to address the hazards and ensure your visitors, employees, and property are safe.
The law says that fire safety evacuation diagrams and maps need to be throughout your warehouse to allow employees and visitors to see the fire safety plan in case of fire easily. You must post maps for all designated fire escape routes. These maps must appear in all rooms, corridors, and exits or entrances. These maps should be next to smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and fire doors. Each location where there is a fire safety element should have a map nearby so people can find their way out safely.
The fire safety map should include an evacuation plan, outline all possible escape routes, and include valuable building information, such as stairwells covered by fire curtains. Our sister company, Safety Maps specializes in evac diagrams.
Remember, early fire detection and prevention is always better than cure. Ensure your building has the necessary warehouse distribution centre fire protection systems and follow through with regular fire safety checks.
Rely on Redmen to customise a solution to meet your warehouse distribution centre fire protection needs. Whether it is at one site or multiple locations, we have the capabilities to offer you a full suite of site Fire Protection Maintenance management solutions of your systems and assets. Redmen covers all technical services including fire protection inspection, testing, preventative maintenance and reactive maintenance, and staff evacuation preparedness.
You should consider our Comprehensive Maintenance Program.
We will proactively maintain your Fire Protection Systems and Equipment and conduct annual audits (AFSA) to benchmark the performance of your assets, and ultimately provide an Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS). Our team of qualified technicians will work to prolong the life of your critical equipment and to ensure you have fewer unplanned maintenance events.
As a client of Redmen, we take the time to understand your needs and will work with you to build a Fire Protection CMP solution that will meet your operating and budgetary requirements, whilst complying with Australian Standards and our industry’s Code of Practice.
We also offer you the convenience of a single point of contact, through a trained dedicated Key Account Manager
Our preventative fire protection maintenance programs are designed to maximise performance and reliability, while minimising disruption and running costs.