The city of Johannesburg's Fire Brigade has been in the news recently due to a number of problems they are facing as a department. Some of the problems include poor maintenance which has resulted in break-down of vehicles. The most concerning one is the recent revelations that they have a shortage of fire engines.
For companies, this may mean that, in case of emergency, they might be reliant on their own equipment or the fire brigade team might arrive later that anticipated. For this reason, it is essential that companies ensure that their fire protection mechanisms and fire equipment is always up to date.
The South African fire protection regulations are very strict when it comes to fire prevention and equipment. SANS 10400 Part T, which regulates Fire Protection, stipulates that employers have the responsibility to ensure;
1. the occupants or people using the building will be protected ' including persons with disabilities;
2. the spread and intensity of any fire within buildings, and the spread of fire to any other buildings, will be minimized;
3. sufficient stability will be retained to ensure that such building will not endanger any other building: provided that in the case of any multi-storey building no major failure of the structural system shall occur;
4. the generation and spread of smoke will be minimized or controlled to the greatest extent reasonably practicable; and
5. adequate means of access, and equipment for detecting, fighting, controlling and extinguishing such fire, is provided.
It will be of paramount importance for companies to know their risks and what kinds of fires are possible in their premises. This can be achieved by doing a risk assessment and ensuring that premises meet the compliant standards stipulated above in terms of fire protection in premises. The fire equipment must be compliant with the SABS standards and regulations.
Fire equipment should be assessed for hazards, risks and effectiveness on a regular basis. Fire hydrants and fire extinguishers should be inspected on a monthly basis and practically checked if they will serve their purpose in case of a fire. With the department struggling with inadequate fire fighting equipment, they might be reliant on the functionality of your fire hydrant to put out a fire.
Some important requirements for effective fire protection include:
- fire detection and alarm systems,
- provision and maintenance of fire-fighting equipment, installations and fire protection systems,
- water reticulation for fire-fighting purposes,
- hose reels,
- automatic sprinkler and other fixed extinguishing systems,
- portable fire extinguishers,
- mobile fire extinguishers,
- fire-stopping of inaccessible concealed spaces,
- firemen's lift,
Ensuring that your fire protection mechanisms and fire equipment is up to scratch will ensure that companies at least meet the fire department half way in emergencies.
MAKROSAFE is an accredited health and safety consulting company that can assist you in relevant aspects of fire protection. We can conduct Risk Assessments on your fire equipment and fire protection mechanism to establish if they are compliant with the relevant regulations. We conduct monthly inspections on equipment and we have the know-how and expertise in all legal requirements. Contact us and let us evaluate your premises and equipment so that when a fire emergency strikes, you are one step ahead, while you wait for the Fire Brigade services.
Read full story on fire engine shortages here: Johannesburg Fire Brigade fire engine crisis.
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