Children at risk in fires

Ferm Engineering has developed evacuation modelling tools for child care and aged care facilities.

The egress models will be launched in February 2020 and Ferm Engineering CEO Steve Burton and fire consultant Wayne Blake will present them at an international Society of Fire Protection Engineers conference in New Zealand in March.

The models will then be consolidated into an engineering design guide for Engineers Australia’s Society of Fire Safety (SFS).

Egress modelling is a specialist area Ferm has been developing for the past decade.

Steve chairs an SFS expert team that is examining changes to child care centre regulations proposed by the Australian Building Code Board in a National Construction Code (NCC) out-of-cycle amendment.

The proposed changes have been available for public comment. Steve’s comments are available here.

Steve, who has lectured on and conducted training in fire design for child care facilities since 2016, says the proposed amendments need more changes before the revised NCC is finalised.

Steve has assisted Qld’s Department of Housing and Public Works prepare information on the issues for a Building Ministers’ Forum in December.

In particular, he says the proposals for child care centres in high-rise buildings need modifying. Large child populations will cause evacuation delays in high-rise buildings, so fire engineering of egress points is crucial in existing and new facilities. The same applies to schools that provided child care, hospitals, aged care facilities and disability services.

Steve says the current draft amendments to NCC 2019 are not the best fit for the child care industry and will be “a real cost to operators”.

Children have no voice in their safety so it’s up to adults in the industry to drive change, formulate appropriate training and standards for the future, and foresee risks before they present themselves.

That’s what sets Ferm Engineering apart from others in fire safety.