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Workplaces need to get fire wise

By Kace O'Neill | |5 minute read

Fires in the workplace are often disregarded as freak accidents that rarely occur. But when they do, the ramifications can be ghastly – showing the importance of fire safety measures.

Fires for businesses can inflict considerable losses in terms of infrastructure, income, and productivity. These consequences should create an urgency to ensure that fire safety measures within workplaces are up to par. However, it is not often high on the priority list.

Data suggests that not everyone is taking it seriously, with nearly a third (30 per cent) of Queensland businesses reporting the perceived risks as very unlikely, while only 62 per cent of businesses felt prepared if they had a fire.


HR Leader recently spoke to Jim Tsanidis, specification manager of fire systems and solutions at Brooks Australia, about how businesses can best secure their fire safety measures and lessen the damaging effect that a fire can have on their organisation.

Tsanidis explained why businesses often neglect fire safety measures as a top priority: “Probably one [reason is] it’s an additional cost to the business, and obviously they don’t see the disruption that could happen or the other costs that could happen if they lose the business to a fire.”

What does it take for businesses to get that wake-up call? Tsanidis believes that health and safety protocols or insurance companies could apply that needed accountability that will push businesses into moving it up their priority list.

“It could be an insurance issue whereby taking something out, the insurance might give you a reduction on your premiums and things like that,” Tsanidis said.

“The other thing too is you will have minimum downtime if something goes wrong, if you detect it early. That means your business can still continue.”

In terms of the actual equipment and protocols that should be in place, it is the simple ones that businesses are still often times neglecting and not maintaining.

“[Businesses need to] have some sort of fire detection or early-warning systems to alert any occupants or employees of the danger at hand. There also needs to be one place where these people can evacuate safely and early before the path out starts to fill up with smoke and they can’t evacuate,” Tsanidis said.

“[It’s also important] to have some sort of equipment to fight a small fire where you can suppress it before it becomes an issue.”

Complacency when it comes to not maintaining these safety measures can be extremely detrimental to not only the safety of an organisation’s employees but also business outcomes. Even if a fire doesn’t prove to be a threat to the safety of employees, it can shut down business operations for some time.

“It depends on the type of building, the classification, and the occupancy. But if it was, let’s say, a manufacturing plant, sometimes switchboards overheat, burn out and drop big production lines then not only do you stop the production line, you’ve also stopped people working there, they can’t do anything,” Tsanidis said.

Overall, businesses must move safety measures for a potential fire up their priority list. If disregarded, it could prove the downfall of a business and endanger employees.

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.