Fire Safety Audits: How to Make Your Organisation Compliant to Australian Standards
A Fire Safety Audit is a proactive approach to managing fire safety and ensuring compliance with Australian Standards. By conducting regular audits, addressing deficiencies, and staying up to date with regulations, you can create a safer environment for occupants and protect your organisation from potential risks and losses.
Table of Contents
- What is a Fire Safety Audit?
- AS 1851:2012 – Routine service of fire protection systems & equipment
- What’s included in a Fire Safety Audit?
- When is a Fire Safety Audit required?
- What are the benefits of a Fire Safety Audit?
What is a fire Safety AUdit?
A fire safety audit evaluates a building, facility, or premises for compliance with fire safety regulations, standards, and best practices. It also ensures that all fire safety equipment is maintained to a high standard. Audits are closely tied to the current fire services maintenance standard Australian Standard 1851-2012, which is a fundamental reference for maintaining fire protection systems and equipment.
The primary goal of a fire safety audit is to achieve several key objectives, including identifying potential fire hazards, evaluating the effectiveness of existing fire safety measures and systems, and providing recommendations for enhancements to improve overall fire safety.
These audits are typically carried out by qualified professionals in the field of fire safety. This may include fire safety professionals, consultants, or assessors with expertise in fire safety management and regulations.
Australian Standard 1851:2012 – Routine service of fire protection systems & equipment
Australian Standards 1851:2012 outlines the specific requirements and guidelines for inspecting, testing, preventive maintenance, and surveying fire protection systems and equipment. The standard covers:
- Evacuation plans.
- Fire monitoring systems.
- Fire alarms and smoke alarms.
- Fire, smoke management, and venting for heat and smoke.
- Other fire safety equipment (extinguishers, blankets, sprinklers).
It serves as the primary regulatory framework for building owners and stakeholders to ensure that their fire protection systems are in compliance with Australian fire safety standards.
What’s included in a fire safety audit?
A fire safety audit determines any ﬁre safety compliance and risk deficiencies. A comprehensive fire safety audit includes:
- Fire Safety Systems and Equipment: This includes evaluating the functionality, adequacy, and maintenance of critical fire protection systems and equipment, such as fire alarm systems, fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, and fire suppression systems.
- Emergency Escape Routes: Assessing the availability, suitability, and accessibility of emergency escape routes and exits to provide occupants with safe means of egress during an emergency. These routes should be unobstructed and well-marked.
- Fire Doors and Compartmentation: Examining the condition and effectiveness of fire doors and fire compartmentation helps prevent the spread of fire within the building. Properly functioning fire doors and compartmentation are vital for containing fires.
- Emergency Lighting and Signage: Verifying the presence and functionality of emergency lighting for providing illumination during power outages, ensuring safe evacuation. Additionally, assessing the clarity and visibility of fire safety signs and notices helps guide occupants during emergencies.
- Safety Training and Staff Awareness: Reviewing the level of fire safety training provided to staff and occupants ensures they are aware of emergency procedures and know how to respond effectively during an incident. Training and awareness are critical for swift and safe evacuations.
- Hazardous Materials and Storage: Examining the storage and handling of hazardous materials to prevent fire incidents and ensure compliance with safety regulations. Proper storage practices reduce the risk of hazardous material-related fires.
- Fire Safety Management and Records: Evaluating the fire safety management plan and associated documentation, including maintenance records and testing schedules, helps ensure compliance with safety standards. Proper record-keeping is essential for tracking maintenance and testing activities.
- Vulnerable Occupants: Considering the specific fire safety needs of vulnerable occupants, such as the elderly, disabled, or children, is crucial. Tailoring fire safety measures to accommodate their needs enhances overall safety.
After conducting a fire safety audit, a detailed report is shared. This report should highlight the findings and identify areas of concern or non-compliance. Most importantly, it should provide clear recommendations for improvement. These recommendations may involve actions to rectify identified deficiencies, enhance fire safety measures, and ensure that the premises are well-prepared to respond effectively to emergencies.
When is a fire safety audit required?
Conducting a fire safety audit at least annually is an important best practice to ensure that fire safety processes, procedures, equipment, components, and systems are adequate and functioning correctly. Fire safety audits should be undertaken more regularly, in response to:
- Changes to the structure, size or layout of the building or worksite.
- Increases in the number of staff or visitors present.
- Changes to the use or storage of new or existing hazardous substances.
- Introduction or removal of new equipment or machinery.
- Changes to ability levels of employees – e.g. an individual with a disability is hired or an injured employee returns to work.
- Changes to relevant fire safety, WHS and building regulations.
- Fire accident or incident within the building.
What are the benefits of a fire safety audit?
- Compliance with Regulations: Adhering to regulations is not only necessary for legal compliance but also for ensuring the safety of building occupants.
- Early Detection of Issues: Frequent audits allow for the early detection of potential fire hazards, malfunctions, or deficiencies in fire safety systems and equipment. This early detection enables timely corrective action.
- Preventive Maintenance: Regular audits help ensure that preventive maintenance is carried out on fire safety systems and equipment. Preventive maintenance helps extend the lifespan of equipment and reduces the likelihood of unexpected failures.
- Adaptation to Changes: Buildings and facilities often undergo changes, such as renovations, occupancy increases, or changes in hazardous materials storage. Regular audits help ensure that fire safety measures are adapted to these changes.
- Occupant Safety: The safety of building occupants is of paramount importance. Regular audits ensure that emergency procedures are in place and that occupants are adequately trained to respond to fire incidents.
- Insurance Requirements: Insurance providers may require regular fire safety audits as a condition of coverage. Compliance with these requirements can impact insurance premiums and coverage terms.
- Liability Mitigation: Regular audits demonstrate due diligence on the part of building owners and operators. In the event of a fire incident, being able to show that regular audits were conducted, and necessary actions were taken can help mitigate liability.
- Business Continuity: Ensuring fire safety measures are in place and functioning correctly helps protect business continuity. Emergency incidents can result in costly disruptions, and proactive safety measures can minimize these risks.
A fire safety audit is an essential tool to proactively manage fire safety, minimise fire risk, and create a safer environment for occupants and users of the building or facility. Take the right steps to make your facility fully compliant and safe for occupants. With our proven auditing processes, fire safety training and experienced consultants, First 5 Minutes ensures your fire and life safety issues are properly identified, addressed, and managed.