How DEM Fire Identified And Rectified A Potential Retail Risk

fire alarm on the wall of business center.

According to Baker Consulting, there are 78 regional shopping centres across Australia with at least one department store and 291 sub-regional centres with at least one discount store as an anchor tenant.

There are 1,120 neighbourhood or supermarket based centres. These centres, including CBD centres, are calculated at 1,630, each exceeding 1,000m2 of gross lettable area (GLA) that require detailed fire safety and prevention strategies to protect its occupants.

Warehouse Fire Inside

Fire essential services requirements in retail

The NSW Government has introduced legislative compliance requirements for fire safety in retail shopping centres across the region to strengthen fire safety certification in new and existing retail properties. In 2020, the state government announced that complaint approvals would be required for annual property surveys from accredited practitioners in fire safety. Fire safety specialists must also assess and sign off annual Fire Safety Statements (AFSS).

Fire expert looking at the camera while pointing at the Fire exit building plan

DEM Fire experts go above and beyond

A large retail property operator commissioned DEM Fire to conduct their annual property survey which required a property assessment for the AFSS. As industry experts, during the inspection, testers pay particular attention to the fire engineered systems and solutions per Fire Engineered Reports (FER).

For this particular assessment, our Accredited Practitioner Fire Safety (ACFS) and tester completing the survey observed a fire evacuation tunnel designed and approved by the FER presented a significant fire hazard.

The evacuation tunnel was being used as storage for excess building materials which is against the report’s recommendations, not only as a risk of catching fire but also as a navigable area due to potential smoke risks. In a large establishment like a retail shopping centre that attracts a significant volume of foot traffic, this could be catastrophic.

Fire experts checking the fire control system

Proactive retail fire safety experts

DEM Fire’s APFS identified the risk this fire safety hazard presented to the public, tenants and employees of the retail property and immediately engaged in discussing fire safety solutions to review with the appointed fire safety engineer.

The initial solution provided by the fire engineer would have come at a significant cost to the client; however, with our internal experts, DEM Fire worked collaboratively with the engineer and client to propose an alternative, more cost effective solution.

Fire system expert installing fire control on pipes

The retail fire safety solution

We proposed installing a fire sprinkler system in the affected evacuation areas. This fire safety solution was designed to meet the fire engineer’s necessary fire protection recommendations, offered minimal operational inconvenience for the client, its tenants and patrons, and came within budget.

Once the fire safety system was approved, DEM Fire’s fire engineers and sprinkler system team completed the project after hours. This retail fire safety solution is one example of how we can work with you and the necessary governing authorities to develop a fire safety solution in shopping centres.

We meticulously assess each property layout and compliance report to find a solution that meets fire safety certification requirements stipulated by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

To speak to one of our retail fire safety experts about your retail property, contact us to find out how we help.

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