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Urban Fire

What is Urban Fire?

Urban fires can be caused maliciously, by accident, or as the result of an unforeseen ignition. Fires may also be the result of a natural cause such as earthquakes or lightning. The most common cause of fire in the home is cooking. However all causes can be just as deadly, here are some common examples:

  • Smoking (dropping lit cigarettes or leaving matches and lighters within reach of children)
  • Faulty electrical appliances or wiring
  • Clothes dryers or any other mechanical household equipment
  • Electric blankets
  • Candles
  • Home heating (flammable items too close to heaters or open fires)
  • Chemical spillages

Why Urban Fire considered an Emergency?

As the City Port Adelaide Enfield has a hot, Mediterranean-style climate, the region experiences days of extreme fire danger every summer and large fires have been recorded in the region even as early as the late 1800’s.

The City Port Adelaide Enfield has a large number of industrial areas including Petroleum Storage facilities which carry a real threat of explosion and fire risk.

In a large scale emergency event it is possible to have a large number of fires occur in a short period over a wide suburban area, so that all Fire Service resources fully committed and overwhelmed presenting the risk of fires spreading destroying homes. These risks mean there could be displacement from homes, many casualties and loss of life.

What can I do?

 

Prevent

Roles and responsibilities
The National Strategy for Disaster Resilience, developed by the Council of Australian Governments, provides high-level guidance on disaster management to agencies with a role in emergency management.  Foremost in the Strategy is the principle of all of society taking responsibility for preventing disasters.

In the context of Urban Fire:

Individuals
People should be aware of their own fire risks and should follow advice from emergency services when responding to warnings.

MFS Website

CFS Website

To increase community resilience, individuals should actively plan and prepare for protecting their own life and property.  Resilience is also increased by knowing and being involved in local community disaster or emergency management arrangements, and volunteer role.

Act safely
The following tips will help you to prevent the outbreak of fire:

Kitchen safety
The kitchen may be the biggest fire hazard and fire starter in your home. A high level of diligence is required when cooking to ensure you adequately manage the risk of fire.

  • Cooking food should never be left unattended
  • Check your appliances regularly for cracks or worn electrical cords
  • Make sure curtains and towels are always clear of heat sources
  • Have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen
  • The stove is not counter space and nothing should be left on top of the stove

Electrical Safety

  • Have your system checked and maintained regularly
  • Be proactive about electrical cords and appliances
  • Make sure you do not run extension cords under rugs or in high traffic areas.
  • Cords should not be touching nails or screws.
  • Keep items away from outlets.
  • Make sure the outlets and extension cords are not overloaded.

Store flammables properly

  • Combustibles should be stored in well ventilated areas and in the proper container
  • Keep combustibles in the shed away from potential heat “triggers.”
  • Any rags or materials that have had contact with those flammable materials should be immediately disposed of
  • Matches and lighters need to have their own special place away from heat and small curious fingers and eyes.

Don't skip chimney maintenance

  • Inspect your chimney regularly, and clean them before "fire season" each year
  • Keep your wood stoves, pellet stoves, and fireplaces clean and in good
  • Check regularly to be sure that branches and leaves are kept away from the chimney area
  • Your chimney should also be at least 3 feet taller than your roof, insulated, and have a spark arrestor on top.
  • Look into purchasing a Chimney Fire Suppressant device that puts out chimney fires when its smoke emissions rise up the flue to replace the oxygen. This is a good safety measure to have available even if you keep your chimney in good repair.

Smart Landscaping
Fires don’t just start inside your home. Outside maintenance can help prevent fires that start or enter your property from getting to your house.

  • Keep landscaping well-watered, clean, and well-spaced
  • Don’t neglect your roof and keep gutters clean, especially of dry leaves.
  • Keep your Driveway clear of overgrowth and clutter
  • Make sure a fire truck can get unobstructed access to your property.

Maintain your vacant block
Unmaintained vacant blocks can cause a number of issues to neighbouring properties, they detract aesthetically from the local area, encourage illegal dumping and they increase the opportunity for urban fire.

Council regularly conduct fire prevention inspections across the Council Area under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005.  These inspections can identify properties that require works to be carried out to reduce the threat of fire to life or property.

The easiest way to maintain your vacant blocks is to engage a contractor who can slash/cut the vegetation on the block regularly.

Government agencies, local governments and communities
Organisations should include Fire risk within their Community Emergency Risk Assessment activities. This includes consideration within emergency management planning and land use planning.

Resilience is developed through land management and planning arrangements, assessment of risks, supporting individuals and communities to prepare for extreme events, and having effective education programs available.

Additional prevention tasks carried out by state and local government include:

  • Risk assessments to gain an appreciation of fire risk;
  • Engaging with the community regarding fire risk;
  • Working with communities to plan the management of urban fire risk;
  • Providing emergency information and fire warnings;
  • Ensuring an effective, well-coordinated response to an Urban Fire event
  • Helping communities to recover and learn following an earthquake and build their resilience to future events

Private Industry and businesses
Businesses play a fundamental role in supporting a community’s resilience to disasters. They provide resources, expertise and essential services on which the community may depend. Businesses, including critical infrastructure providers, can also make a contribution by understanding the risks that they face and ensuring that they are able to continue providing services during or soon after a disaster

Businesses should plan for the risk of disruption, and ensure arrangements are in place to maintain critical services where required.

The links below are designed to help businesses plan for emergency situations:
Business Continuity Plans – A quick guide to impact analysis and plan development
Plan and prepare – State Government advice on how to protect your business

For additional information about Urban Fire:
You may also like: How to store fuel for emergencies
SAPOL How to prepare for a Disaster (PDF)
Community Fire Safety Advice

Prepare

Things you can do now to prepare for an Urban Fire event:

Understand your risk

Fire Notifications
Whilst it is not possible to predict the timing and size of a fire, fire notifications are provided by the MFs and CFS, who monitor and report on fires within South Australia. This is done on a 24/7 basis for the purposes of emergency warnings to alert governments, emergency services and the general public of emergency situations.

For MFS emergency incident, such as structure fire, bushfire, chemical spill, gas leak and smoke in the community you can visit the current MFS Media Releases or connect to the MFS Twitter account for current and up to date warnings 

Bushfire incidents
For current Bushfire information and warnings for incidents in Country Fire Service (CFS) or Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) area:

For more up to date information you can visit the CFS website, CFS Twitter and Facebook accounts or you can Call the Bushfire Information Hotline on 1300 362 361

Household plans
The South Australian Emergency Management Sector encourages every household, business and farm to have a written emergency plan.

Prepare an Escape Plan
Every home should have a fire escape plan; you should be prepared to escape under toxic smoke if necessary; here are some tips that could save your life in a house fire:

  • The first priority is to get out of a burning house choose the route with the least smoke and heat
  • When there is smoke, always crawl low to get under the smoke
  • Consider two means of escape from each room (windows and screens should be easily opened)
  • Provide alternatives for anyone with a disability
  • Close internal doors (if safe to do so) to prevent fire and smoke from spreading.
  • Once outside move to a safe place and phone Triple Zero (000).
  • Once out, STAY OUT, never go back inside a burning building.
  • Practice your plan
  • Make sure everyone in your house knows the plan.
  • Learn and practice your building's evacuation plan.
  • If you hear the fire alarm, leave immediately.
  • Use the stairs - NEVER use a lift/elevator during a fire.
  • Further information about safe living in high rise buildings

If you live in an apartment building
It is worthwhile having a plan for what you would do if your usual way of living is disrupted for several days. Here are some suggestions of things you can do to prepare for being homeless after a fire:

  • Put together an emergency kit  - See our guide in the links section
  • Be sure to have temporary care lined up for your pets
  • Fix potential hazards in your home or business
  • Investigate your insurance policy
  • Create a list of the contents in your house complete with photographs. This will be useful for insurance claims and tax deductions following an event.
  • Find a fast and safe route to a place where you can get to safety in your home, place of work and school.

 

The information below will help you further assess your situation and prepare for a fire

Smoke detectors

  • Install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement
  • On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room (or den or family room) or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations
  • Smoke alarms installed in the basement should be installed on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs leading to the next level
  • Smoke alarms should be installed at least 10 feet (3 meters) from a cooking appliance to minimize false alarms when cooking
  • Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises). Wall-mounted alarms should be installed not more than 12 inches away from the ceiling (to the top of the alarm)

Teach your family fire safety
Teaching your family about fire safety is a way you can help with fire prevention, you should teach them about possible fire hazards and to be aware of their actions.

  • Teach your children how and when to call triple zero – 000
  • Practice a fire drill with them at home
  • Educate them about risks of fire in the home, for example:
    • Placing clothing over a lamp
    • Leaving a blanket too close to a heater
    • Using an oven or bar-b-que

The CFS provides an activity book for children which can help you start the conversation.  There are also a large number of fire safety apps, eBooks, lesson plans, and other fun ways to teach kids about fire safety available online.

Build to Australia’s Building Codes
Australia’s building codes set out data and procedures for determining fire safety in structures and their components, whilst detailing minimum requirements for structures. Councils are responsible for ensuring the application of building code provisions. Please make sure you Contact Council if you require assistance from our Development, planning and building services. Find out more about what Council can do to assist you

Protect your finances
Emergencies are really expensive and can become a significant long-term burden.  To ensure that your finances are safeguarded you can protect your main income source by taking out life insurance and income protection insurance.