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Protect stock from fire this Christmas

New Year period, store owners are filling their shelves and warehouses with increased levels ofstock. While the risk of fire may not be top of mind, retailers are being warned to check their stock isstored safely, that fire equipment is accessible, and sprinkler systems and fire exits are clear to helpavoid a fire disaster. 

According to Kerry White from fire protection specialist Wormald, “During the busy holiday tradingseason we see many retailers overstocking their storage systems. In doing so, they risk blocking orbaffling their sprinkler systems. In the event of a fire, sprinklers can’t function properly and the retailerthen risks losing everything. We are urging store owners and managers to undertake a fire safetyaudit of their premises in the lead up to Christmas to reduce potential fire hazards.”

Fire costs New Zealand an average of $50million1 per year in commercial property damage alone.This excludes the costs associated with loss of output due to damage, as well as direct or indirectinjury costs. Fire can impact businesses with significant costs resulting from personal injuries,damage to stock and property and lengthy downtime.

“Fire extinguishers must be checked each year to ensure they have enough pressure and are workingcorrectly. Fire hoses also need to be checked for the likes of corrosion and cracks. Remember, insurance premiums may be affected if fire systems aren’t working properly and losses may not be covered if legally required equipment is found to be lacking,” he continued.

Wormald recommends the following to store owners and managers to help reduce the risk of a fire, particularly in the lead-up to the busy holiday trading season:

  • Check your storage areas to ensure excess boxes are not baffling the sprinkler system.

  • Ensure you have appropriate fire safety equipment for certain stock or new stock items that may require a different fire extinguisher. For example, some hazardous materials require CO2 fire extinguishers rather than dry powder extinguishers.

  • Ensure fire safety equipment is maintained and serviced. Fire extinguishers and hose reelsshould be tested each year. Check the yellow tag (NZS4503) around the neck of the fire extinguisher and around a fixed location of hose reels to check when they were last serviced.1 The Cost of Managing the Risk of Fire in New Zealand: Report by BERL for The New Zealand Fire Service Commission 2005

  • Make sure floor stock is not blocking fire exists and access to fire alarm manual call points, fire extinguishers and hose reels are easily accessible.

  • Take a walk around the store to ensure all fire exit signs are clearly visible and that fire doors can be opened and not blocked with excess stock or worse still, barred or locked.

  • Train staff on the use of fire equipment and procedures. With many retailers employing casual staff over the holiday trading season, it is important to ensure all staff are trained on how to use fire safety equipment and that they know what to do in the event of a fire emergency.

Most fires are preventable and many can be contained if the right fire safety solutions are in place and people are trained to respond appropriately. Wormald provides a wide range of fire safety products from portable fire equipment to large scale fire detection and suppression systems for the retail and commercial sectors. Wormald also offers a number of fire safety training courses ranging from the use of fire extinguishers to comprehensive warden training. For more information on Wormald's products and services call 08004 WORMALD.