Early Fire Danger Period –
With over 100 bushfires burning through New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria in August this year, the CFA is bracing for a horrific summer in Victoria.
The CFA is so concerned about the oncoming summer it will bring forward the start of the Fire Danger Period to September 10 in many parts of Victoria. That would mean fire restrictions could come into force within a fortnight almost 2 months earlier than previous years..
As we enter the Fire Danger Period this year, it is very important to take the time to look around your house or farm and clean up any potential fire fuel. Overhanging branches should be lopped and gutters should be kept clear of all leaves and twigs, fallen bark should also be cleaned away from the base of trees, especially near buildings.
During the Fire Danger Period, the CFA recommends carrying a fire extinguisher or knapsack on all farm vehicles.
The use of grinders, welders and chainsaws is permitted during the Fire Danger Period, but among other precautions it is essential to set up shields to block sparks, and to have at hand a reticulated water supply, a fire extinguisher or a knapsack water spray holding at least 9 litres of water.
Stone guards and bash plates which protect areas such as bearings and exhaust systems under vehicles need to be cleared regularly. Often these collect grass and seeds and other flammable material can quickly ignite when these fuels heat up.
Many fires have been started from sparks when slashers have hit rocks or wire; it is good practice to watch recently slashed areas for any signs of smouldering grass.
With the advent of air-conditioned cabins for many farm vehicles it is possible for the operator to become isolated from weather conditions, noises and smells. It is good work practice to stop every now and then and get out of the air-conditioned comfort to keep an eye on outside influences particularly the temperature and wind conditions.
We also recommend that all your existing fire fighting equipment is checked to make sure it is in good working condition. All hoses and pressure gauges on extinguishers should be checked; water in knapsacks should be pumped out and replaced. All tractors or machinery likely to come into contact with grass, stubble, weeds or other vegetation should be fitted with a 9 litre stored pressure water extinguisher or a knapsack.
Fire Extinguisher Types and Classifications –
Portable Fire extinguishers are essential in the containment or extinguishing of fires before they take hold. But it is very important to use the correct type of extinguisher for a particular type of fire.
In Australia there are six classes of fire
Class A Fire = Ordinary combustibles, e.g. wood, paper, dried grasses etc
Class B Fire = Flammable and combustible liquids, e.g. petrol, oils, etc
Class C Fire = Flammable gases, e.g. natural gas, methane
Class D Fire = Combustible Metals e.g. magnesium, aluminium
Class E Fire = Electrical Fires, e.g. Kitchen appliances, electrical devices
Class F Fire = Cooking Oils and fats e.g. deep fryers
Fire extinguishers are distinguished by their labels and coloring, since 1999 in Australia, fire extinguisher colors were changed so that now they are now red and are distinguished by different colored bands.
The most common types of Fire extinguishers and their uses are –
Water Extinguishers- Solid Red Color
Suitable for Class A fires, can be dangerous if used on Electrical or Cooking fat fires and are considered unsuitable for Class B and Class C fires.
Dry Chemical/ Dry Powder Extinguishers – Red with a White Band
These extinguishers are further classified into ABE or BE fire extinguishers
ABE extinguishers are suitable for Class A, B and E type fires, but are not considered effective on Class F (cooking oil) fires
BE extinguishers are suitable for B and E and F type fires, but have limited effectiveness on Class A fires
Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers – Red with a Black Band
Most suitable for electrical fires as leaves no residue, effectiveness is affected by wind, Has limited effectiveness on Class A, B or F fires.
Foam Extinguishers – Red with a Blue Band
Suitable for Class A and B fires but considered dangerous if used on Class E fires
Wet Chemical Extinguishers –Red with an Oatmeal Band
Suitable for Class F fires and effective on Class A fires but not considered effective on Class B fires and can be dangerous if used on Class e type fires
Fire extinguishers also come in a variety of sizes and ratings. Ratings determine the size of the fire a particular extinguisher is deemed to be effective on. i.e. the higher the rating the larger the fire. The size of extinguishers should also be taken into account when considering the capabilities of staff/personnel to effectively handle and use the extinguisher.
Now is the time many people load up their vans and head up north to the warmer climate for a couple of months of fun in the sun. Although all new caravans come fitted with fire extinguishers, it appears these are very rarely checked or serviced by the caravan owner or by a fire extinguisher technician. Fire extinguishers shouldn’t, but can lose pressure which greatly reduces their effectiveness. The dry powder in the extinguisher can pack down hard which prevents the fire extinguisher operating properly when needed. Gippsland Fire & Safety can service,or replace your fire extinguisher if required to ensure your assets are protected at all times.
Essential Safety Measures
Many shire councils audit buildings and businesses in their Shire for compliance with Essential Safety Measures such as the servicing and testing of Fire Extinguishers and Fire Hose reels. Currently Latrobe Shire are doing essential Safety Measure Audits in Traralgon and Morwell. Worksafe appears to be auditing Fire extinguishers and Fire Hose reel servicing and testing in Leongatha and Korumburra. Gippsland Fire and Safety can service your Fire Extinguishers and Fire Hose reels as part of our regular service schedule or as a once off service if required. We do believe Fire extinguishers and Hose reels should be serviced regularly as per Australian Standard AS 1851.1
Fire Safety in Winter
Ironically, the cooler months in Gippsland are when the most fires can occur in and around the home. As well as having and maintaining the correct fire extinguishers and fire blankets it is also very important to follow some important rules to help prevent fires in the home this winter season.
Some important things to remember are to clean the filter in your clothes dryer regularly, if hanging clothes in front of the heater do not hang them too close. Check your flues and filters on heaters on heating units.
Never leave your electric blanket on for too long and never ever smoke in bed.
It is important to have the correct all purpose AB(E) fire extinguisher close by but not too close to the heat source, and all fire extinguishers should be checked regularly to ensure they will function if and when required.
The following link will explain more about fire dangers in the home –