Shed Fire Safety!

Posted on : October 27, 2011

Shedeye Science.

Shed and Garage Fire Safety

Number 0001 of the Shedeye Science Series.

All garden sheds, domestics sheds and garages are a potential fire hazard – not from the shed itself – but from the behaviour of the owners and what they store inside the structure. Currently there are no rules in relation to alarms or safety procedures for sheds and garages. All Australia States have useful information on fire safety in Class 10A buildings as shown below for each state:

Just about every shed or garage (whatever variety) in Australia is utilised for storage from household furniture, cars, workshops, garden equipment & chemicals, pool chemicals, motor bikes, electric machinery, gas, fuels & oils, paint and junk. A great many of these items are highly flamable and hard to extinguish when ignited. This list is only small and some of the above combinations of the items above can be very dangerous. It is wise to consult with the above websites on the dangers of these various combinations. The Queensland Fire website has a specialised Shed Fire Safety report that could be extremely valuable to all shed owners in Australia. If in doubt call your local Fire Brigade if you are unsure of any of these instructions given in the report. Rural sheds have a different set of rules regarding fire safety and the above websites should be able to assist in this area.

Below is a photo of a double garage steel shed that resulted in costly damage to property, motor vehicles and a costly visit by the local fire brigade. Along with insurance claims and the lengthy time period for replacement – there is also the very high risk of injury or death to people. The causes of all shed fires have to investigated by the fire department to provide data for insurance claims and statistics.

The Results of fire in a double garage!

The Queensland statistics for Fire Safety Measures conducted in 2008 are below.

Fire safety measures

Of the 1,589,354 Queensland households an estimated:

  • · 97.3% (1,547,001) has smoke alarms;
  • · 93.5% (1,485,847) has a safety switch or circuit breaker;
  • · 78.6% (1,249,457) removes external fuel sources from around their home;
  • · 51.8% (822,561) has a home fire evacuation plan;
  • · 44.1% (700,487) has a non-mains external water supply;
  • · 42.4% (674,103) has a fire extinguisher;
  • · 31.5% (500,398) has a fire blanket;
  • · 9.9% (156,829) have a bushfire survival plan; and
  • · 2.7% (43,218) has a fire sprinkler system.

But how many have applied these concerns to your garage or shed? How many sheds have fire alarms installed, and how many are fitted with fire extinguishers. These two items should be compulsory for the backyard shed in Australia. There are roughly 10,000 house fires per year, causing more than 1,500 injuries and 70 deaths. Currently there are no statistics for shed fires only in Australia but a search of shed fires on Google will result in many hits.

The problem with sheds being utilised as living space is not only illegal, but does not comply with BCA Class 1 building regulations and hence a very high risk fire hazard. Power connection to a shed also requires a Licensed Electrician for all electrical work in the shed. Extension leads providing power and lighting to the shed are highly dangerous and illegal. All electrical installations must comply with Australian Standards and the BCA as well as being completed by a licensed electrician.

Safety in our domestic garage or shed is important and these items above should be discussed during your investigation or quoting stage from a shed reseller. The cost of smoke alarms and fire extinguishers is very small in relation to the overall shed cost.

Do a quick check on your shed – before it too late. Make sure you check out the relevant fire services in your state for safety procedures and regulations. Workplaces in Australia required Material Saftey Data Sheets on all chemicals, liquids etc not only for fire harzard reasons but for poison dangers also. We ask employers to provide this for the saftey of all employees – yet don’t apply the same rules to family and friends. The number of shed fires have increased recently in the news and endangers life and property.

Is Your Shed Shedeye Science Safe this Weekend?

The number of posts in the Shed Forum on this topic highlights the number of sheds have been burnt down in the last year.

See Article in the Shed Forum!

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2 Responses to “Shed Fire Safety!”

  1. The Roofer said...

    Great – wonder why there are no stats on these shed fires by the state & federal governments. The fire guys would know for sure – some good links there Shedeye, especially for safety in the shed & garage for home owners!

  2. Sheds said...

    Absolutely, fire is one such factor that you should take an keen interest in and make the arrangements to see that you have been well equipped against the occurrences of any of such instances. Educating ourselves adequately before giving in for the idea or calling for some professional help is the best way to keep such hazardous situations from occurring.

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