4 Tips to manage the safety of your apartment building, while keeping costs to a minimum
There was a mammoth 43,775 false fire call-outs report in New South Wales  and 17,477 in the Melbourne district  last year alone, causing unnecessary disruption to individuals, businesses and the community. A majority of these false alarms were classified as ‘system initiated false alarms’ in building complexes.
Building owners/management are held accountable for any false reports and are required to pay a ‘False call out charge’. In NSW charges start from $1,600  compared to Melbourne which is $2,500 per hour. 
False activation, unmaintained equipment, charges, additional work and stress can be avoidable; if a building’s strata management/owners corporate have the right processes in place to stay on top of all the rules they are required to follow. Which includes safety and security, health, storage of flammable liquids and other dangerous substances and materials.
To help you avoid a false call out charge, be ready for inspection or in case of an emergency the following are our 5 key tips.
- Implement an online filing system to ensure all of your building’s paperwork relating to compliance is available at a moment’s notice.
There are a few reasons for this and why we have chosen it to be number one on the list. Firstly, if there is a fire and your documentation are hard copies in filing cabinets, you run the risk of losing this vital information that you will most likely need in the follow-up fire investigation. So, keeping everything online in one secure place instantly eliminates this risk.
Secondly, Fire + Rescue NSW last year assessed over 3,000 buildings for external cladding and 343 fire safety inspections throughout the year. As you may be aware inspections require you to show all your paperwork, including the following:
- Completed Safety checklists
- Certification and paperwork for equipment such as fire hose, extinguisher
- Maintenance documentation
- Escape routes
- Evacuation plan
- Fire systems logs
With multiple amounts of paper over a long period of time, we recommend you implement an online filing platform, one that can integrate with your current software and is designed specifically for the property industry. This is so you create an organized historical trail of information for the lifetime of the building. A bonus is it will be available to you 24/7.
When deciding which platform to go with, ensure it has features such as ‘drag and drop’, Optical character recognition software, a search field and terminology relevant to the state you’re in.
- Add reminders
Whether its weekly, monthly or yearly checks, it’s important to set reminders in your calendar or on the platform you use choose from the tip above.
Missing a safety or equipment check can result in costly in fees, fines or damage repair bills. As mentioned earlier, false alarms, system initiated false alarms or unforeseen inspections that find your building uncompliant will all lead to additional costs.
Setting up your reminders can give you and your team peace of mind that you’re up to date with everything.
- Have a clear concise checklist available 24/7
Are your checklists up to date? It’s important to maintain the validity of your checklist, if there are changes in state rules and legislations, your checklist should correlate these changes.
The CFA, F+R NSW and MFB have checklists available on their website; they also have a wide range of educational sources and reading materials if you had questions or wanted to ensure your building is the safest it can be.
Again, we refer back to tip one. Storing your checklists on an online platform means they are easily accessible and create an organized place for all completed checks lists to be saved and referred to.
- Your staff wardens
In an emergency it’s reassuring to know you have onsite back up if you need it, hence the need for staff wardens.
In saying this it’s important to not neglect your wardens. What we mean is to ensure the following:
- Schedule regular quarterly or half-yearly meetings
- Conduct Training for any new wardens
- Conduct for any new equipment or systems put in place
- Conduct fire drills
- Ensure all communication and documentation of plans, checklists, how to guides are available on a central online platform.
If you’re interested to find out more about an industry design cloud-based platform as mentioned above and discuss if it would suit your building’s needs go to www.thestratavault.com