Ensuring community safety
The Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service (NTFRS) is an integral part of the Territory community and the Fire Safety Command ensures public fire safety issues are reduced as part of the wider strategic focus.
The Fire Safety Command covers building fire safety and engineering (reports and inspections), licensing and compliance, hazard abatement, NTFAST and fire investigations.
It is important to remember that during a total fire ban, members of the public cannot weld or use a grinder or do other hot works. There can be no fires in the open air. Penalties do apply for breaking the rules.
You can help prevent arson
The NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services is committed to the protection of life, property and the environment.
Each year large areas of the Territory bush are devastated by bushfire; destroying flora and fauna, and threatening homes and businesses. Scientific research by the CSIRO has identified that this annual destruction of our bush by fire will have a long term negative effect on the Top End's biodiversity.
Bushfire arson is costly to the community with the loss of property, cost of firefighting resources and the disruption of business, due to the need for volunteer firefighters to be away from work.
Many of these fires are deliberately lit by bushfire arsonists. We need the help of the public to detect and assist with the apprehension of these arsonists. Report suspicious behaviour and fire lighting. Bushfire arson is a crime.
Prescribed burn advice
The NTFRS are conducting prescribed burns in the Darwin/Rural area. The burns are expected to commence at approximately 9:00am every day and continue for most of the day during the burns season, weather permitting.
Pay attention when driving and if the roads are affected by smoke, turn on your lights and drive carefully.
People suffering from asthma or breathing ailments should consider leaving for the day or staying indoors.
Asthma sufferers should take all precautions, if in doubt call the Asthma Foundation on 1800 278 462 for more information.
Contact the Bushfire Mitigation Section on the general enquiries line.
Building fire safety
In the interest of public and building occupant safety, the NTFRS formally recognise Australian Standard (AS) 1851-2012 as the relevant standard for the Routine Service of Fire Protection Systems and Equipment. Recognition of AS 1851-2012 is in accordance with Regulation 11 (1AA) (6) and schedule 2 of the NT Fire and Emergency Regulations.
NTFRS operational crews conduct building fire safety inspections throughout the Territory on buildings listed in Schedule 2 Prescribed Buildings of the Fire and Emergency Regulations. The inspection program aims to ensure owner/occupiers comply with building fire maintenance requirements in accordance with AS1851-2012 in the interest of occupant and community safety.
Community Fire Safety has provided tools and samples to assist owner/occupiers with maintaining their legislated building requirements.
Other essential information
Asbestos and mesothelioma
Asbestos was widely used in construction during the 20th century and had many desirable properties, including insulation from heat, noise attenuation and reducing building susceptibility to fire damage.
Unfortunately, one of its less desirable properties is that asbestos fibres can become airborne during disturbance such as a fire and lodge in a person's lungs, where it may lead to a potentially fatal condition known as mesothelioma. This is a debilitating form of cancer of the lungs.
As a result of this discovery, asbestos has been banned in Australia, but buildings erected in past decades may still contain asbestos and therefore may constitute a risk to firefighters.
Firefighters who enter an area where airborne particulates or dangerous toxins are present should take care to protect their lungs, by wearing appropriate protective clothing and equipment.
Fibres released during a fire and overhaul stage can remain in the air for some hours, creating a risk of contracting malignant mesothelioma.
A good way to enjoy fireworks on Territory Day is to attend one of the NT Government funded public fireworks displays around the Territory. Remember, common fireworks are explosives and must be handled with care and respect to prevent injury and property damage. Here are some tips to reduce potential harms if using your own fireworks:
- Do not buy more fireworks than you can safely use on Territory Day. It is illegal to possess fireworks outside of Territory Day.
- Clear a 10 metre in diameter area to light your fireworks in and use a sand bucket to stabilise fireworks, especially multi-shot fireworks.
- Have a hose or bucket of water ready for emergencies.
- Do not wear synthetic (e.g. nylon, rayon, polyester) clothes around fireworks as stray sparks can cause them to catch fire.
- Faulty fireworks can still go off, leave for 15 minutes then douse with water.
- Never point, hold or throw lit fireworks.
- Never give fireworks to children under 12 years of age. Supervise children at all times.
- Don’t hold more than one lit sparkler together at the same time.
- If you get burnt, cool the area immediately by submerging in cold water or gently pour cold water on the burn for at least 15 minutes.
Fire at sea
Here are some tips for dealing with fire risks on the water:
- Be prepared
- Have a written plan about what you're going to do if a fire breaks out. It'll help you to think through the issues you need to consider and prepare for.
- Make sure firefighting equipment is serviced regularly.
- Read the instructions on how to use the equipment.
- Make sure firefighting equipment is stowed where it can be grabbed in a hurry, that crew know where it is and how to use it, that fuel is stored in appropriate areas, and that good housekeeping is maintained.
- Plan to assign two crew to tackle the fire so they can back eachother up without getting in the way. Consider having other crew prepare to abandon ship, and others to manoeuvre the vessel to facilitate firefighting and safety.
- Prior to going to sea, brief the crew about safe practices, location and use of firefighting equipment, and their roles if fire breaks out.
- At sea, have a fire drill.
- Keep flammable material (oily rags, paper) away from engines, galley areas and other ignition sources. Don't smoke in bunks.
- Check shaft bearings, engine belts, the electrical switchboard and other electrical and mechanical components to ensure they are functioning properly.
- Make sure fuses and wiring are the correct size to prevent overheating and short circuits.
- Minimise the flammable materials, including fuels carried aboard. Make sure gas lines and regulators are in good condition and have a current compliance certificate. Is the gas shut-off easy to access? Do all crew know where it is?
- Is the metho stove always out when refuelling? Take precautions whenever re-fuelling the vessel with petrol and diesel: no smoking, mobile phones off, earth the nozzle/filler, earth the fuel tank, isolate power
- Minimise risk while at sea
- Turn off gas when not in use
- Vent battery boxes
- Use correct fuses and wiring
- Keep electrical circuit board and circuits dry
- Keep gas bottles and outboard fuel containers outside, with fumes draining over the side
- Don't re-fuel stoves while in use.
- Keep flammables away from the galley and engine box
- If fire breaks out
- If you spot a fire on board, immediately raise the alarm amongst the entire crew.
- The helmsman should turn the boat to minimise wind across deck and slow fire spread.
- If possible, manoeuvre to keep flame and smoke over the side, rather than in the boat. Opening hatches before the fire is knocked down may increase fire intensity. On the other hand, it may be necessary to open hatches to improve visibility below and provide fresh air for any crew tackling the fire. Be prepared to manoeuvre the boat and open/close hatches as necessary to assist fire-fighters.
- Gather your fire-fighting resources, and make sure they are put into the hands of trained crew who are appropriately dressed. No synthetic clothing.
- Tackle the fire, extinguishing it as quickly as possible. Remember to turn the gas off as soon as possible if it's on - assign a member of the crew to do this immediately.
- Make sure all signs of fire are eliminated. Look in lockers, under cushions, behind lining, in wiring conduits etc if necessary.
- Evaluate damage: is anyone injured (burns, smoke inhalation)? what's been lost (essential gear, communications, fire-fighting equipment)? can we continue safely, or should we immediately return to port?
- If vessel endangered
During the fire, the skipper needs to continue to evaluate if there's a possibility that the vessel is in danger of burning out of control and eventually sinking. If burning freely, the crew will need to abandon the vessel well before it sinks.
Follow an 'abandon-ship' procedure:
- Raise the alarm via a standard mayday call on the radio.
- If you have one, prepare the liferaft and survival equipment.
- Ensure crew don lifejackets, and leave the vessel before they are endangered by the fire, and before the vessel sinks.
- Get well clear (the gas cylinder may explode violently before the vessel sinks).
- Safety Tips
- Most flammable vapours (e.g. LPG, petrol) are heavier than air and accumulate in the lower parts of a vessel, including the bilge. If there's a leak, immediately eliminate all ignition sources and ventilate the boat to clear all traces of flammable vapours. Consider installing gas detectors.
- Install a smoke alarm on vessels where people sleep. Consider an arrangement for temporary installation while the vessel is being used.
- Safety Equipment
Safety equipment you should consider includes fire extinguishers, a fire blanket and a strong bucket.
- Mounting: Secure extinguishers and fire blankets in a visible position close to, but not on top of, the areas they are designed to protect. For example, the extinguisher for the galley should not be mounted on a bulkhead too close to the stove; similarly with fuse boards and engine compartments. If a fire occurs the extinguisher may be unreachable.
- Fire extinguishers: Extinguishers recommended for boats are of the dry chemical powder type, with a minimum rating of 10BE. Every month, check the pressure gauge for correct pressure, and turn the extinguisher upside down and shake it vigorously to loosen the powder. Have the extinguisher serviced every 6 months, or immediately after every use. Fire extinguishers are designed for small fires. Familiarise yourself with the use of fire extinguishers before any fire occurs. Read the instructions. If a fire occurs the extinguishers must be applied immediately. If you are delayed by looking for an extinguisher, reading the instructions or unwrapping it, the fire may grow too large for the extinguisher to extinguish
- Fire blankets: A fire blanket is ideal for stovetop fires and can be used to wrap around people if their clothes catch fire. A fire blanket measuring one metre by one metre will be adequate in most circumstances.