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6 Fire Safety Tips Like You’ve Never Heard Them Before

Stuart Read
8 Jul
Reading time: 3 minutes
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If Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steve Irwin had a baby – and that baby attended military school and rose through the ranks to become an Army Commando – that baby would be Steve Todd, Senior Firefighter slash Emergency Management Consultant at the City of Sydney Fire Station.

Having received a medal last year for 25 years of loyal service to the public sector, Steve has seen it all. Burst sewage pipes, people extinguishing a powerpoint with 9kgs of dry powder, even a guy who was convinced the smoke detector with a blinking red light above his desk was a camera and had been freaking out thinking he was under constant surveillance.

Here are 6 tips from the man himself about how to safeguard yourself and your co-workers from fire (and embarrassment).


Smoke Alarms

Excess moisture, dust and even fly spray can set off a smoke alarm. Got one in the office? Know how to see if it works?
Everyone seems to think burning toast is the best way to test it out, it’s not – it’s by using the Test button. Go figure.


Break Glass Alarms

If you need to break one of these, don’t go looking for that little red hammer you see in the movies. Pushing on the glass will do the trick. Here’s a handy hint – the white alarms won’t call the fire services, but the red ones will. Of course, in an emergency always call 000 immediately.


Alarm Tones

Always follow the tones. An alert tone goes off first for 3 mins and then comes the evacuation tone, meaning everyone out. This 3 minute interval gives fire wardens time to gather everyone for evacuation and to mentally prepare for the silly questions and alarmists, warns Steve.


Fire Stairs

Fully fire-rated and built to keep out smoke, fire stairs are pretty much the safest place to be in an emergency. They’re also a strict food and drink-free zone as any spilled tea or coffee is a serious slip hazard. Steve once witnessed an employee trying to make an escape down some fire stairs with a cup of tea and some toast balanced on an open laptop. Yes, really.


Power Shortages

The maximum amount of time employees can stay in the office during a power shortage is 90 mins. That’s as long as the backup lighting in the fire stairs is built to run for and after that time they start to dim, which becomes a safety hazard when trying to evacuate people.


Fire Extinguishers

Contrary to popular belief, they don’t contain water. A black band around an extinguisher = CO2 / dry ice, white band = dry powder. Kitchen fires are some of the most common types of fires. Steve’s best tip for avoiding them? “Just don’t cook, find a great take out place nearby instead.”

A massive thanks to Steve for the most interesting, informative and downright entertaining fire safety training!

If your company is looking for training that won’t put your employees to sleep, contact Steve at


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