AS 1851 Fire Safety Standards
The AS-1851 is an Australian Standard that sets out requirements for routine fire protection equipment and services requirements. Rules and procedures outlined in AS-1851 cover different types of fire equipment and procedures related to the proper functioning of fire hazard systems and emergency planning.
These rules and regulations ensure that building owners remain in compliance with the existing fire safety standards. To ensure that you’re fully compliant, the fire safety equipment and other apparatus inside your building must be regularly inspected, tested, and serviced by a licensed professional.
For the safety of building occupants, you must have evidence that the existing fire protection equipment meets the rules outlined in the AS-1851. When needed, building owners should be able to provide such evidence in the form of records and inspection reports. To give you some idea, here is a brief overview of what AS-1851 covers:
What does the Australian Standard AS-1851 cover?
AS-1851 can be divided into two distinct parts. The first part covers the scope and general guidelines related to the underlying topic. The remaining thirteen sections offer comprehensive guidance on how to inspect and maintain individual equipment and services. Except for the first section, the other thirteen sections are subdivided into four subcategories: general, procedures & precautions, frequency, and routine service schedules.
- Scope & General
- Automatic fire sprinkler systems
- Fire pumpsets
- Fire hydrant systems
- Water storage tanks for fire protection systems
- Fire detection and alarm systems
- Special hazard systems
- Delivery lay flat fire hose
- Fire hose reels
- Portable and wheeled fire extinguishers
- Fire blankets
- Passive fire and smoke systems
- Emergency planning in facilities
As discussed, sections 2 to section 14 are each subdivided into four similar subcategories. The general subcategory outlines the procedures needed to ensure compliance. The second subcategory provides an overview of how to perform those procedures. The third subcategory outlines the frequency of service and inspections. The last section is basically a continuation of the third section. It contains sample checklists and tables.
Stages of fire equipment maintenance
According to the rules of AS 1851, all building owners, safety inspectors, and surveyors should follow four steps to ensure proper maintenance.
First Stage: The first stage requires a trained professional to carefully inspect the fire safety equipment. The AS 1851 contains a checklist, which needs to be followed.
Second Stage: After the inspection, it is time to record your observations. Depending on the frequency of service schedule, AS 1851 standards clearly indicate what items should be checked and how to check them.
Third Stage: If there is a fault in the equipment, AS 1851 also provides detailed instructions on how to fix the problem. Such findings are recorded in the activity report.
Fourth Stage: The final stage is an annual condition report, which includes all the records, problems, and observations associated with particular equipment.
It is important to note that each Australian State has its own legislation regarding the rules of AS 1851. While you may find minor differences in how the local fire equipment safety reports are compiled, the AS 1851 is the primary source of information. Other regulations such as AS 2293, covering exit and emergency lighting, may complement AS 1851. Your local fire protection services agency can help you understand additional requirements if any.
Frequency of inspections
Fire protection services often highlight the need for frequent inspections. Regular inspections are critical to staying compliant because each piece of equipment has a different inspection schedule. According to the guidelines of AS 1851, routine service frequencies may vary between 30 days and one year.
For instance, section 1.11 of AS 1851 manual suggests that fire sprinkler systems, pumpsets, hydrants, water storage tanks, fire alarms, special hazard systems, and smoke control features require monthly checks. On the other hand, passive fire and smoke systems should be inspected after every three months.
Similarly, hydrant valves, fire hose reels, portable fire extinguishers, fire blankets, and emergency planning services require bi-annual assessment. Certain types of equipment such as delivery lay flat fire hose only needs to be checked once a year.
Depending on the rules, almost every major instrument related to fire services requires more than one inspection every year. Therefore, fire and smoke control features of mechanical services are to be inspected every month, three months, six months, and after a year.
Routine fire services records
A successful inspection involves maintaining logbooks entries, tags, labels, and keeping a hardcopy summary record according to the type of equipment. For instance, you’re only required to keep logbooks of automatic fire sprinkler systems but other types of equipment such as fire hydrant valves have additional requirements. According to the rules, fire hydrant valves need proper labels, tags, and a summary record.
The AS 1851 standard clearly outlines what you need to record and how to keep service records. To get a better understanding, here is what it suggests about the most commonly used equipment i.e. fire extinguishers:
- You should check fire extinguishers every six months.
- Records of periodic inspections should be recorded on the tag or a label attached to each fire extinguisher.
- If the fire extinguisher does not have a pressure gauge, the inspector should make sure that it is still full.
- Where necessary, you should visually check the fire extinguisher to make sure that it is in a proper working condition.
- The fire extinguisher should be refilled, pressure-tested, and emptied after specified intervals.
Defect classification and non-conformance
Critical Defect: A defect that renders a system inoperative
Non-critical Defect: A system impairment or faulty component not likely to critically affect the operation of the system.
Non-conformance: A missing or incorrect feature that does not affect the system operation but is required to facilitate ongoing routine maintenance.
Fire protection maintenance requirements
The regulatory standards for fire safety equipment are extensive. Not only must you provide the appropriate amount and type of fire safety equipment, but also maintain and replace your equipment to assure reliability and effectiveness.
These regulations detail the amount and type of fire safety equipment available as well as the maintenance and replacement of this equipment to ensure compliance.
To comply with these standards, all business owners are required to have an adequate number of fire extinguishers and fire safety equipment available. They must also be sure to provide reliable escape routes in case of emergency evacuation.
There is a wide range of fire protection equipment used in a building to maintain fire safety standards. Fire extinguishers, fire hose reels, fire blankets, fire doors, and smoke alarms are just a sample of the list of fire protection equipment used in a typical building.
Every one of these types of fire equipment must be inspected, tested and serviced by a fire technician to ensure compliance with AS
Since fire extinguisher services and fire safety protocols are to be followed strictly, you can also hire or take guidance from companies offering fire extinguisher services. Trained professionals can properly inspect the equipment, carry out functional tests, verify, and do visual inspections. In fact, it makes sense to let professionals take care of the responsibility so you can focus on your core business activities.
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