Behind the scenes – building safety

By Sue Saunders, Residents 3000

As a CBD resident, how aware are you of your building manager’s responsibilities to keep your building safe and secure?

The basic areas that need regular attention are provisions to deal with fire, water quality, waste, heating, cooling and ventilation, electrical and gas services, security access and general maintenance.

Fire

The most important area of concern is how will the building systems handle a fire?  Buildings are required to have an annual audit to ensure that all essential safety measures as defined in the occupancy permit are maintained according to the legislated standard.  What are these?  There is a long list of items that all be included here.

However, to give you an idea, they include the air conditioning and ventilation systems, emergency lifts and lighting, backup telephone system for communication with the fire brigade, exit signs and fire-proof doors, all systems associated with the fire control centre, fire extinguishers, hydrants and pumps, fire isolated stairs and lift shafts, paths of travel to exits, instructions for occupants, smoke alarms and the occupants broadcast warning system, sprinkler system water pressure and operation, stairwell pressurisation and evacuation procedures.  That is a lot!  But a fire in a high-rise building is a serious business and owners of apartments should know that their building is compliant.

If you are not sure, you should enquire with your owners’ corporation manager or your building manager.

Water

What about water?  Each year a check is needed to see that the backflow valves are working.  You wouldn’t want the building’s waste water going back into your drinking water!  How reliable are the sewerage pumps?  What about the pumps that maintain the building’s water pressure?

And then there are the cooling towers.  These have to be checked for Legionnaires bacteria every week.  Are you sure that your building is being dowsed with chemicals every week?

You know how nice it is to get the windows cleaned.  Those abseiling high-rise window cleaners are skilled operators.  Did you know that the anchor points (from which they hang) must be certified every year to be safe?

Risk and safety report

Although not part of legislation, many buildings have a risk and safety report compiled every two years.  The idea is to have an external professional assessor make sure that the building is properly maintained and that its occupants can move around the building safely.

Matters such as accessibility, lighting, hand rails, floor treatments and the like are reviewed.

High-rise building insurers require that all switchboards are thermo-graphically imaged every year to ensure that there are no hot spots in the electrical distribution systems. Hot spots not attended to could cause a fire.

Inside your apartment

What about inside your apartment?  You should have sprinkler heads in each room, at least one fire alarm system (is the battery operational in case the mains power is out?), a fire blanket and maybe a currently-certified fire extinguisher. Just stop to think now and again, that if there was an emergency in your building, what would you do?  Do you know your exit route?  Where to assemble in case of fire?

Residents 3000 has each year at one of its regular monthly forums a session on owners’ corporations.  Safety has been suggested as a topic for the 2018 forum.

Next time you see your building manager, just think of the work he/she puts in to ensuring that the building functions well and safely.  It is not just about the cleaning!

As a CBD resident, how aware are you of your building manager’s responsibilities to keep your building safe and secure?

The basic areas that need regular attention are provisions to deal with fire, water quality, waste, heating, cooling and ventilation, electrical and gas services, security access and general maintenance.

Fire

The most important area of concern is how will the building systems handle a fire?  Buildings are required to have an annual audit to ensure that all essential safety measures as defined in the occupancy permit are maintained according to the legislated standard.  What are these?  There is a long list of items that all be included here.

However, to give you an idea, they include the air conditioning and ventilation systems, emergency lifts and lighting, backup telephone system for communication with the fire brigade, exit signs and fire-proof doors, all systems associated with the fire control centre, fire extinguishers, hydrants and pumps, fire isolated stairs and lift shafts, paths of travel to exits, instructions for occupants, smoke alarms and the occupants broadcast warning system, sprinkler system water pressure and operation, stairwell pressurisation and evacuation procedures.  That is a lot!  But a fire in a high-rise building is a serious business and owners of apartments should know that their building is compliant.

If you are not sure, you should enquire with your owners’ corporation manager or your building manager.

Water

What about water?  Each year a check is needed to see that the backflow valves are working.  You wouldn’t want the building’s waste water going back into your drinking water!  How reliable are the sewerage pumps?  What about the pumps that maintain the building’s water pressure?

And then there are the cooling towers.  These have to be checked for Legionnaires bacteria every week.  Are you sure that your building is being dowsed with chemicals every week?

You know how nice it is to get the windows cleaned.  Those abseiling high-rise window cleaners are skilled operators.  Did you know that the anchor points (from which they hang) must be certified every year to be safe?

Risk and safety report

Although not part of legislation, many buildings have a risk and safety report compiled every two years.  The idea is to have an external professional assessor make sure that the building is properly maintained and that its occupants can move around the building safely.

Matters such as accessibility, lighting, hand rails, floor treatments and the like are reviewed.

High-rise building insurers require that all switchboards are thermo-graphically imaged every year to ensure that there are no hot spots in the electrical distribution systems. Hot spots not attended to could cause a fire.

Inside your apartment

What about inside your apartment?  You should have sprinkler heads in each room, at least one fire alarm system (is the battery operational in case the mains power is out?), a fire blanket and maybe a currently-certified fire extinguisher. Just stop to think now and again, that if there was an emergency in your building, what would you do?  Do you know your exit route?  Where to assemble in case of fire?

Residents 3000 has each year at one of its regular monthly forums a session on owners’ corporations.  Safety has been suggested as a topic for the 2018 forum.

Next time you see your building manager, just think of the work he/she puts in to ensuring that the building functions well and safely.  It is not just about the cleaning!

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