This article was posted on the Fire and Emergency NZ website last year during New Zealand's lockdown in 2020. The information is still valid for lockdown 2021 so this is reposted as a reminder to those who work with chemical stocks and processing equipment.
Businesses preparing to return to work? Check chemical stocks and processing equipment
23 April 2020
As businesses across New Zealand prepare to return to work, Fire and Emergency is asking they check any chemical stocks and processing equipment are in good working order.
Fire and Emergency National Manager Risk Reduction, Roxanne Hilliard says it’s important to include these checks in any preparations to return to business as usual to prevent any hazardous substance accidents.
“As many businesses had to shut down abruptly as we entered COVID-19 Alert Level 4, there could be some risks as they begin to return to operations next week.
“For example, there could be accidents from leaks or issues from containers or processing equipment that have been sitting dormant, or people forgetting what chemical goes in which container after a month away.”
“Make sure there are no leaks in your chemical stocks and that connections on pipes and equipment for handling chemicals are in good working order.”
“Double check that you are mixing the right chemicals and that you are putting the right chemical in the right containers when transferring chemicals.”
“If you do have an accident with any hazardous substances and cannot manage it safely, call 111 and ask for Fire.”
WorkSafe has guidance available that helps businesses work through a plan about how to start up safely, which you can find on its website.
Note: Fire and Emergency is the lead agency for hazardous substance emergencies and has a responsibility and legislative function to provide risk reduction advice.
All of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 4 until 11:59pm on Friday 27 August, with a review on Friday.
Auckland will remain at Alert Level 4 until 11:59pm on Tuesday 31 August 2021, with a review on Monday.
At alert level 4 FSN will not be conducting Trial Evacuations due to lock down and Covid-19 guidelines, however our staff are still working from home checking and replying to emails, and returning phone messages.
At alert level 3, not all buildings will be occupied again yet and FSN are unable to conduct Trial Evacuations as building occupants are unable to safely physical distance while evacuating in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines.
We can still offer refresher online Fire Wardens training and full Wardens training via Zoom meeting or in person by prior arrangement (in an environment where Covid-19 physical distancing guidelines can be adhered to for our consultants’ and your safety).
In level 2, our consultants will be in the office and some trial evacuations may be able to be carried out. Our consultants will connect with building point of contacts to discuss the next due or overdue Trial Evacuation and what the next step will be for your building.
All of our team will follow Covid-19 guidelines and protocols at all levels and are happy to discuss the risks and how to manage them with you at any time, at all applicable levels.
We know that some people and businesses are affected more than others and that people may be feeling anxious or under pressure at this time. As a company we promise to work with you to provide the right advice and information to ensure that you are able to meet your obligations during this time, in as stress free way as possible, under the Fire and Emergency NZ (Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures, and Evacuation Schemes) Regulations 2018.
False alarms can make building occupants fire alarm complacent and less likely to react to genuine alarms. This can contribute to delays in fire evacuation. Refer to Fire and Emergency website to learn the most common sources of unwanted Fire Alarm activations.
Oily kitchen towels, warm laundry that hasn't cooled properly, an increase in furniture stained with linseed oil are all contributing factors in commercial fires in New Zealand. Businesses that are mainly affected include florists, massage parlours, cafes, restaurants, hotels, motels, day care centers, aged-care facilities and hospitals. Fire Safety is important, and often its the basic prevention methods that are overlooked. To learn more read the Stuff article attached...
As of Monday 15th February to midnight Wednesday 17th February, Auckland moved to Level 3 and the rest of NZ moved to level 2. We want to remind everyone about what is required and how FSN will operate in alert levels 2 &3 this includes for Fire Evacuations/ Fire Warden Training/ Fire Extinguisher Training & Evacuation Chair Training :
Level 3: For the Auckland Office, we can’t operate Fire/Trial Evacuations, however training meetings etc can be conducted on Zoom and the training link can be sent to wardens.
Level 2: Physical distancing – General: keep a 2 metre distance in public (e.g., playgrounds, parks, retail businesses, shopping malls or walking along the street).
What to expect from your FSN Consultant during a Trial Evacuation:
We take this opportunity to thank all of fantastic Wardens & clients for supporting our proudly NZ owned and locally operated business. This is not new territory for us and you can ensure your health and safety is paramount to us during any Trial Evacuations/ Fire Extinguisher/ Fire Warden Training courses.
By Laura Trask - FSN Senior Fire Safety Consultant
With the popularity of multi-storey retirement living on the rise, retirement villages and aged care facilities are now needing to address the additional risks related to fire safety in multi-storey structures more than ever before.
The increase in multi-storey retirement living including the popular independent living apartment complexes has a direct link to our large aging population ( "hey boomer I am looking at you!")and the density of residential living in popular locations.
Retirement Villages need to be prepared to cater to ALL persons in an event of an emergency and to take special consideration of how individuals will safely navigate through the multi-storey building.
When it comes to fire safety, there are certain groups and individuals with a higher risk of injury or death, including individuals with disabilities, chronic health conditions and those individuals with mobility issues.
It’s crucial that Retirement Villages have safety procedures in place that are accommodating to these groups of people.
Multi-storey Retirement Villages are designed with elevators, which of course, should in most cases not be used in the event of a fire. The primary reason is due to a piston effect where a lift can either draw down smoke or push it to other areas of the building via the lift well, with smoke inhalation more likely to cause fatality than the fire itself.
One solution however is to install fire isolated lifts at a significant cost to the development. Internationally, there is a push for fire safe refuges to be incorporated into stairwells and the provision of Evacuation Chairs, something that is now being pushed in New Zealand as well.
At the end of the day, multi-storey retirement living is going to continue to increase. Retirement Villages must remain vigilant in undertaking regular fire evacuation/ fire warden training and having a comprehensive evacuation scheme in place, as the result of a fire in a multi-story building can be much more catastrophic than that of a single level building.