Category Archives for "Community Outreach"

Bushfires in Australia: What you need to know


Australia is a beautiful country that is home to so many unique and diverse ecosystems. Unfortunately, each year, these ecosystems are threatened by bushfires — and these can have devastating effects on both the environment and our local communities. 

It’s why it’s essential that Australians not only understand the risks associated with bushfires but take steps to prepare yourself and your property. Bushfires in Australia can occur at any time of the year, but the severity and the timing of your “bushfire season” will vary depending on where you live.

Bushfires in Australia have killed more than 800 people since 1851 — which is an absolutely devastating impact. As well as this loss of life, each year, homes, properties, and livestock are destroyed and have the potential to leave people homeless, traumatised, and without access to electricity, telecommunications and, in some cases, drinking water.

What are the causes of bushfires in Australia?

Understanding the causes of these awful natural disasters can help us understand how to prevent bushfires. 

These are a natural part of Australia’s environment, and they can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of the most common causes of bushfires in Australia include lightning strikes, human activity, and dry weather conditions. Lightning strikes are a common cause of bushfires in Australia, particularly in the northern and eastern parts of the country. During the dry season, lightning strikes can ignite dry vegetation, causing fires to spread quickly and unpredictably.

Human activity

Another significant cause of bushfires in Australia can be what we as humans do. Many fires are a result of either deliberate arson or carelessness. However, these fires normally happen in readily accessible areas and are rapidly brought under control. Man-made events might include situations such as:

  • Arcing overhead power lines
  • Arson
  • Accidental ignition in the course of agricultural clearing
  • Grinding and welding activities
  • Campfires
  • Cigarettes and dropped matches
  • Sparks from machinery
  • Controlled burn escapes. 

These can cause fire to spread, dependent on the type and quantity of fuel that is available. Fuel, in this case, can include anything from trees, underbrush and dry grassy fields to homes. 

Wind supplies the fire with additional oxygen, which pushes the fire across the land at a faster rate. Electric power lines being brought down or arcing in high winds have also caused fires. Even events such as camping, cooking, and using power tools outdoors have ignited fires.

Dry weather conditions 

During periods of drought, vegetation can become extremely dry and flammable, which in turn, increases the risk of bushfires in Australia. 

Similarly, high temperatures and strong winds can cause fires to spread quickly. The wind, in particular, makes these difficult to contain. 

Recently, most major bushfires have been started in remote areas by lightning.  During periods of drought, the fuel for wildfires is greater and drier than normal, and bushfires combine to become mega-fires, generating their own weather and spreading the fire further. 

The Importance of Bushfire Awareness in Australia

Bushfire awareness is critical for all Australians, regardless of whether you live in a bushfire-prone area or not. 

By understanding the risks associated with bushfires and knowing how to prepare for them, you can help reduce the impact of fires on the environment and your local community.

One of the most important aspects of bushfire awareness is knowing what to do in the event of a fire. This includes having a plan in place for evacuating your home or property, as well as knowing where to go if you need to seek shelter. It’s also essential to stay informed about bushfire conditions in your area, so you can take appropriate action if necessary.

Preparing Your Property for Bushfire Season

Another crucial aspect of bushfire awareness is preparing your property for bushfire season. There are a variety of steps you can take to reduce the risk of your property being damaged by fire, including:

  1. Clearing gutters and removing debris from around your home.
  2. Trimming trees and removing overhanging branches. 
  3. Ensuring that your property is well-maintained and free from flammable materials:
    • Remove flammable door mats.
    • Don’t store firewood under or near structures
    • Face LPG pressure relief valves away from structures
  4. Installing fire-resistant shutters and screens on windows and doors.
  5. Considering fire-resistant plants/hedges around your structure.
  6. Creating a clear space around your property by removing vegetation and other flammable materials.
    • 1.5 times the height of your trees clear from your house.
  7. Having a reliable source of water available for firefighting purposes.
  8. Maintain access to your property for firefighting vehicles 4m wide x 4m high.
  9. Keeping your property well-maintained and free from clutter.
  10. Ensuring that you have adequate insurance coverage in the event of a fire.


  • Will you leave early? Or will you stay and defend?
  • The Role of the Government in Bushfire Awareness

The Australian Government plays a crucial role in bushfire awareness and management. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in government funding for bushfire prevention and management, including the development of new technologies and firefighting equipment.

Along with providing funding, the government also runs a range of awareness campaigns to educate the public about bushfire risks and what they can do to prepare themselves and their properties. This includes initiatives such as the “Prepare, Act, Survive” campaign, which provides practical advice and resources to help Australians prepare for and learn how to prevent bushfires.

The government also works closely with local communities and emergency services to coordinate responses to bushfires. This includes providing support and resources to any affected communities and coordinating firefighting efforts, evacuation plans, and how bushfire warnings are rolled out.

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Are you prepared for fire risk of lithium-ion batteries?

Lithium-ion battery fire

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in a lot of consumer items. This technology is growing in popularity due to its light weight, high energy density, and ability to recharge quickly and with no memory effect. In Australia, lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in rechargeable electrical devices such as: -

•   Cordless power tools
•   Cell phones, laptops and smart devices
•   e-Rideables/LEV 's e.g., electric scooters, electric skateboards, hoverboards etc
•   Electric vehicles (EV's) or Hybrid vehicles
•   Electric Forklifts
•   e-Cigarettes
•   Camping and gardening equipment
•   Cordless appliances
•   Toys
•   Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)

Lithium-ion batteries make life easier, but their complex chemical-nature make them dangerous if used, charged or stored incorrectly. Lithium-ion battery related fires and explosions can cause property damage, serious injury and even death. As rechargeable batteries have become more common the number of incidents has increased dramatically.

Lithium-ion fires in Australia
In Australia, more than 450 fires have been linked to lithium-ion batteries over the past 18 months, according to data provided by state fire departments with a significant spike in e-scooter fires. 

•   WA recorded 81 of these incidents 2022
•   NSW recorded 180 lithium-ion battery related fires in the past 12 months
•   VIC recorded 120 in the year to July 2022
•   QLD recorded 72 since 2021

These fires can be triggered by overcharging, overheating or exposure to extreme temperatures, short-circuiting, defective or ageing battery cell. Ensuring that you source your products from a reputable seller/manufacturer is an important step as cheap products carry risk. 

Thermal Runaway
When lithium-ion batteries fail, they can undergo a thermal runaway phenomenon which involves a violent bursting of one or multiple battery cells.  Thermal runaway occurs when a lithium-ion cell enters a state of uncontrolled self-heating. This often begins when the heat generated within a cell exceeds the heat dissipated to its surroundings. This results in the release of toxic, corrosive, flammable, and explosive vapours and gases resulting in an intense fire. The fire is self-sustaining and is especially difficult to extinguish using conventional methods or fire extinguishers.  Pouring water on a lithium fire is often very dangerous and counterproductive.

When you’re carrying many lithium-ion batteries in your workplace, the risks associated with thermal runaway increases. If thermal runaway occurs in a single battery, it will overheat the cell and quickly create a domino effect with the other batteries kept close by. As the battery cells continue to overheat and ignite, the fire will continue to grow in intensity.  To manage this risk, look at storing your Lithium-Ion batteries in a safety storage cabinet. These cabinets are usually fire rated for up to 90 minutes both from internally and externally.

High Temperatures Reached
The rapid thermal energy generation during an internal short circuit is typically the tipping point after which thermal runaway occurs. Internal cell temperatures will continue to rise and can quickly reach 500°C at which point the cell catches fire or it explodes. Lithium-ion batteries can also spontaneously combust when exposed to high thermal temperature. Here is an example of one, Dangerous-power-tool-explodes by Australasian Mine Safety Journal

Gases Produced
What usually looks like ordinary smoke is in actual fact toxic, flammable, and explosive vapours. A lithium-ion battery upon contact with water produces hydrogen gas and lithium-hydroxide. Overexposure to Lithium-hydroxide can cause skin irritation or eye damage. Because lithium reacts with water creating a flammable gas, pouring water on a lithium fire is extremely dangerous. A leaking lithium-ion battery when exposed to air or moisture can even produce hydrofluoric acid, which is highly toxic, and can severely irritate the eyes and lungs.

Steps to safely manage lithium-ion batteries products to minimise the risk:

  • Do not charge them when you're out.
  • Do not charge them while you’re asleep.
  • Do not charge them indoors or around items that are combustible.
  • Do not charge them near your exit path where it is likely to impede your egress out of a building.
  • Do not charge a damaged product.
  • Unplug them once charged.
  • Take care to avoid damaging items i.e., dropping, crushing etc.
  • Do not leave or charge them in hot environment or direct sunlight.
  • Using the certified or original battery chargers.
  • Avoid charging damaged batteries.
  • Avoid thermal stress.

Batteries that show any signs of damage should be disposed of carefully. Never throw them in your regular waste or recycling containers. Fires are known to occur in garbage trucks and in waste facilities due to improper disposal of batteries. Even when dead, they can explode or cause fires when crushed or when exposed to moisture. Research online for local battery recyclers.  Below is an image of garbage bin fire, a result of a disposed cell phone.  

Plastic Bin Fire

Damaged batteries a include:
•   Batteries and/or devices that have been involved in or exposed to fire
•   Overheated batteries that may have been emitting vapours or smoke
•   Batteries that show signs of swelling or bulging, leaking, cracks, dents, punctures, or crushing
•   Batteries that have had water or liquid ingress or have been submerged in water.

What to do if confronted by a Lithium-Ion fire emergency
•   If there is sign of overheating, switch off the charger if it's safe to do so.
•   If there is sign of fire, remove yourself from the area to avoid the risk of fire and toxic vapours from the battery.
•   Raise the fire alarm.
•   Isolate the power supply if safe to do so.
•   Use a suitable fire extinguisher i.e. F-500 EA if available.
•   Other extinguishers may not be effective as the excessive heat from a lithium-ion battery in a
     thermal runaway state could cause reignition.
•   If save to do so, remove combustibles stored nearby.
•   Call triple (000) and request the fire service.

Fire Protection in Budget Accommodation Buildings

Budget Accommodation

Under the Queensland Development Code, all Budget Accommodation Buildings must adhere to the fire safety standards set open them by Queensland Legislation. These types of buildings carry a special risk since they serve as housing to multiple tenants, increasing the risk of someone sustaining injury from fires.

In this blog, we’ll go about the basic requirements owners and operators need to adhere to, in order to deem their property safe and up to code.

What are Budget Accommodation Buildings?

By definition, budget accommodation buildings are properties which provide accommodation to 6 or more tenants sharing a common bathroom or sanitary facility.  From this, we can see how they differ from the usual hotel where each guest can enjoy more independence from each other. And we can deduce that budget accommodation buildings are relatively smaller in area, and have a higher tenant-to-floorspace ratio. Per the Building Act of 1975 and Building and Other Legislation Amendment Bill of 2008, some examples of Budget Accommodation Buildings can include but are not limited to:

  • Boarding Houses
  • Backpacker Accommodation
  • Hostels
  • Guesthouses
  • Share-Houses
  • Bed-and-Breakfasts
  • Farmstays
  • Special Need Care-Facilities

Safety Compliance

In essence, if your budget accommodation building has been built, applied or approved prior to 1st January 1992, the structure must comply with the Building Code of Australia, Building Fire Safety Regulation of 2008 and the Fire and Emergency Services Act of 1990. The Fire Safety Standards in Queensland Development Code Mandatory Part MP 2.1 - Fire Safety In Budget Accommodation. includes the following:

More information regarding Fire Safety In Budget Accommodation Buildings is also available from 

Fire Safety Compliance Assistance and Evaluation

Australian Fire Protection has been in the business of providing fire safety and compliance solutions to a wide range of industries. With more than 30 years of experience under our belt, you can rest assured that we can confidently guide you through the ins and outs of keeping your tenants safe and keeping your property up and beyond safety standards.

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