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5.3 Fire Management

Last Modified: 30-Nov-2018 Review Date: 01-Jun-2019

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Purpose

​​To provide residential care workers with information and clear procedures to follow in case of fire or potential fire to keep all children and staff safe, accounted for, and able to return to normal activities as soon as possible.

Practice Requirements

  • ​​​Residential care workers must be familiar with, and understand procedures set out in the home’s Fire Management Plan
  • The overriding priority is the protection of life. To minimise the risk of fire residential care workers must be vigilant and maintain a low risk environment. 
  • Managers must develop and implement a Fire Management Plan and fire prevention strategies for their house and property. 
  • Everyone must follow the Fire Management Plan and must use social responsibility to carry out additional maintenance and precautions. ​​

Procedures

  • Fire Management Plans
  • 1. Fire Risk Assessment
  • 2. Fire Prevention and Preparation Planning
  • Summer Fire Prevention Strategies
  • 3. Response
  • 4. Recovery
  • 5. Review
  • Fire Management Plans

    ​A Fire Management Plan (FMP) must be developed to identify the resources and services required to manage in a fire emergency. An effective FMP prepares residential care workers and enables them to: 

    • assess the situation, call emergency services and assist those in danger; 
    • evacuate if appropriate 
    • inform relevant people 
    • support and reassure those who may need it, and 
    • undertake recovery operations (later) to assist in returning the site to normal. 

    The plan must be prepared and practiced with all members of the home (children, residential care workers and visitors) before the start of the bushfire season, and when new children and staff join the home. Residential care workers must be familiar with the FMP and understand their role and responsibilities if there is a fire. 

    The FMP must: 

    • be developed on the basis that all children and residential care workers will leave for a safer place 
    • identify where children and residential care workers and will go, how they will get there, what they will take and how they will know when to leave 
    • assist children and residential care workers to be prepared, organised and know what to do when a fire or bushfire starts 
    • cover a range of situations that may be faced 
    • cover what children and residential care workers need to do if things go wrong 
    • include a backup plan in case it is not possible to leave in time or if it is too late and too dangerous to leave when roads are closed and filled with smoke, and 
    • include what will be done with pets and/or livestock (for example, horses). 

    Note: If there is livestock that can be moved out of the area, allow plenty of time to move them. Never release animals out on to the road to run free. This is dangerous for fire trucks and vehicles, and you may be legally responsible if they cause an accident. 

    When developing a Fire Management Plan the five stage process is: 

    1. Fire Risk Assessment 
    2. Fire Prevention and Preparation Planning 
    3. Response 
    4. Recovery 
    5. Review
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    1. Fire Risk Assessment

    ​Fire Risk Assessment to determine the following: 

    • ​What is the fire or bushfire risk? 
    • How will residential care workers know what is happening in the area? 
    • If there is a fire or bushfire, how will residential care workers stay alert and know when to take action? 
    • How prepared is the property? 
    • What options are there if residential care workers and children can’t leave for a safer place? 
    • How prepared are residential care workers and the children for being in a fire or bushfire, as it can be a traumatic experience. ​
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    2. Fire Prevention and Preparation Planning

    All residential care workers are responsible for maintaining the home and grounds to minimise the risk of fire. Managers and residential care workers must work with the Facility Management team to maintain the property, land and gardens to a safe standard and in good working order. Fire prevention strategies must be planned and carried out in a timely manner. ​​

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    Summer Fire Prevention Strategies

    ​Summer Fire Prevention Strategies

    Fire prevention strategies must be carried out during spring (before the start of summer) on an annual basis. The safety and health representatives, manager and residential care workers must work with the Facility Management team to complete all fire prevention strategies. 

    Homes located on larger blocks must have an annual Facility Management Fire review completed by 1 September each year. The manager must work with Facility Management to complete the FESA review and all recommended actions by 1 November each year. 

    The Summer Fire Prevention Strategies Checklist must be completed and signed by relevant parties, placed in the Emergency Records File and emailed to Facility Management

    A mid-summer review must be conducted at each home during the month of January. This must include reviewing all tasks on the Summer Review Checklist, recording the actions required and completing those actions by 1 February each year. The Mid-Summer Review Checklist must be completed and signed by relevant parties, placed in the Emergency Records File and emailed to Facility Management

    Physical Environment 

    Everyone’s social responsibility is to prepare their home and property for the fire and bushfire season. Everyone must follow the Fire Management Plan and carry out additional maintenance and precautions when necessary. Where a significant risk is identified, expert advice must be obtained to maintain a low risk environment. 

    The following actions are required when necessary: 

    Starve the Fire 

    Keep the area around the home clear so that embers will have less chance to start a fire when they hit the ground. 

    • Cut long grass and dense scrub. 
    • Rake up leaf litter and twigs under trees regularly to prevent a build-up. 
    • Have lower tree branches (up to two metres off the ground) pruned to stop a ground fire spreading into the canopy of trees. 
    • Remove shrubs and small trees under and between larger trees. 
    • Create a fire break - clear vegetation along the boundary of the property Make sure you meet your local government’s firebreak requirements. 
    • Keep roof gutters and valleys clear of leaves and bark. 
    • Retain a safety zone. 
    • Create and maintain a 20 metre circle of safety around your home and other buildings clear of all rubbish, long dry grass, bark and material that may catch fire. 
    • Create and maintain a minimum two metre gap between your house and tree branches. 

    Plan your garden so that your vegetable garden, lawn, pool or patio is on the side of the home likely to face a fire (where the bush is). 

    Fill the gaps 

    • Block any gaps under floor spaces, in the roof space, under eaves, external vents, skylights, evaporative air conditioners, chimneys and wall cladding. 
    • Check that there is metal fly wire mesh on all vents to keep sparks and embers out. 

    Avoid fire traps 

    • ​Do not pile wood against or near the home. 
    • Remove any timber, rubbish or old junk lying around the property. 
    • Store fuel containers in a shed away from the home, and have a firebreak around it. 
    • Keep LP gas cylinders on the side of the home furthest away from the likely direction of bushfires (where the bush is).​
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    3. Response

    Responses are the actions taken immediately before, during and immediately after a fire. Responses include: 

      • the process for determining the level of risk and/or threat, and the course of action to be taken 
      • turn the air-conditioning off 
      • the evacuation process for moving residential care workers and children to a place of safety 
      • notifying the Director, Residential Care or his/ her nominated delegate, as soon as it's safe to do so,, and 
      • the process for returning to the home once the threat has passed, or to alternative accommodation if this isn't possible. 

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    4. Recovery

    ​These are strategies to restore the emotional, environmental and physical wellbeing of affected children and residential care workers. 

    Following an emergency or critical incident, the manager, the home psychologist and the Facilities Management Team must: 

    • ​take appropriate actions to return the home and property to normal 
    • develop and implement medium to long-term strategies in conjunction with specialist support residential care workers to identify and manage the ongoing social and psychological needs of those affected, and 
    • modify specific procedures of the Fire Management Plan as determined by the operational debriefing.​
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    5. Review

    ​​The manager and home’s psychologist review each fire emergency. They: 

    • organise an operational debriefing to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the Fire Management Plan 
    • openly communicate any issues and/or faults in procedures, and any suggested improvements, and 
    • maintain associated documentation.​
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