AUST – Hendry advises that whilst modern buildings are being built higher, they still need to maintain safety standards for the occupants. As well as AS 3745-2010 ‘Planning for emergencies in facilities’, one of the basic safety measures that still forms part of this safety network is the provision of fire extinguishers and hose reels, that is, first attack fire fighting training.

All fires start small, and there is still a strong case for suppressing small fires before they test the structural design of the whole building. These first attack fire fighting appliances are available to occupants to use but, like most tools, they are only as effective as the person using them, and most WHS professionals see the risk in providing any first attack fire equipment to employees without first providing training as required under AS 3745, in the use of the equipment.

When and who should use a first attack fire appliance will be determined by the AS 3745 nominated Emergency Response Procedures, but it is up to the Emergency Planning Committee to ensure that occupant training is provided in their use.

First attack fire training should not just progress straight to identifying the class of fires and selecting the correct extinguisher – as important as this is. Personnel should first be trained in preparing for fires, reporting the fire, and in determining if it is safe to use the first attack fire equipment.

Note that at some facilities the Emergency Planning Committee under AS 3745 will decide to establish an emergency response team, whose duties may include the use of emergency response equipment in a first attack fire. This may involve the advanced use of other portable fire protection equipment and hoses.

In all cases, the use of first attack fire equipment by authorised individuals or teams require appropriate training, as determined by the AS 3745 nominated Emergency Response Procedures and as identified by the Emergency Plan.