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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Sheds & Garages Increase Value!

Posted on : July 16, 2011

Buyers and Renters demand a Shed.

Properties that have a seperate workshop, shed or garage have an advantage over properties without, by demanding higher sell prices, additional rent and also increase the chance of a sale or rental. In regional areas where the mining boom is prevelant, real estate agents report the advantages to property owners of the contsruction of a double garage or shed. Investment properties are sort after with the shed as an extra.

Reported in The Australian Property Investor – the article relates to Queensland towns of Mackay, Gladstone and Bowen. The comment by local realtor David Bugeja recently ” the ones to sell fastest were the properties with sheds”. He also reported that for a capital outlay of approximately $12,000 in a shed or garage – this will add an expected increase of $20,000 to the sale price and an extra $20 per week in rent.

In the same article Mr. Tooma of The Shed Company Mackay said “for between $10,000 and $12,000 a fully erected shed can be placed on site with the approval certificate, earthworks and concrete done”.

Even A Small Shed adds Value

The property investor can purchase a property with an existing shed or simply add a double garage to a property without. The end result is an increase in capital gain within a short time period or a guaranteed extra rental income. As stated in the article – it is wise to check local council requirements as to approvals, easements, sewerage locations and location.

For an investment of as low as $12,000 for a double garage to return an additional $8,000 extra is an extremely attractive option.

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Carbon Chaos in Shed Industry

Posted on : July 8, 2011

Shed Industry – Carbon Day!

All the lobby groups, MP’s, Companies and Political Parties are busy in the corridors of power until the announcement is made on Sunday. What has the shed industry been doing in regard to this Carbon Tax to date? Not a lot! It’s a matter of how much will this impact our business after the details have been released for analysis! The questions are not on how will this impact global temperature, sea level change or the ability to reduce our carbon dioxide footprint – but how much will it cost the industry, how will sales be affected and how do we reduce the tax. No different to any tax – yet it is another TAX. Below are a few key points that may be important in the shed industry.

  • The carbon price: this is being based on a price of $23 per tonne of CO2 a low start but set to increase at 4% per year plus inflation.
  • Compensation: The shed industry may miss out – but there will be billions of dollars handed out to consumers at the rate of $10.00 per person per week. But only to who? Tradies, petrol, groceries, electricity, meat, coal etc etc.
  • Business: Trade exposed industries may be covered – lets see – the steel, mining, manufacturing, contruction and retail are all looking for a way out.
  • Electricity generators: this is the big one – electricity costs are rising every year and with this conversion to renewables, is it realistic.
  • Who: Agriculture is definitely out, but to what extent?
  • Transport: This is the big if? What will it cost to transport a shed to the customer in 2, 5 or 10 years time?

If the shed industry is compensated – the question must be asked “Why are we paying a TAX on something I will be compensated for?” For how long?

The shed industry operates on steel manufacture – a 100% fully recycleable product – so we are going to be influenced from BlueScope and OneSteel in regard to price rises.

This small diagram will ask whether it is possible to generate pwoer through renewables in the future to guarantee supply of AUSTRALIAN Steel after sunday?

Energy to Result
The sunday announcement will affect all concerned in the shed industry: owners, distributors, rollformers, manufacturers, erectors, engineers, council income, buyers, truck drivers and the list is endless. Keep an eye on the forum – because all the comments will be there! http://forum.shedeye.com.au/forum.php
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Carport Exempt Developments

Posted on : April 8, 2011

NSW SEPP – Exempt Developments for steel Carports

Don’t be overwhelmed by the complexity of this flow chart, if you follow it step by step it is relatively straight forward!

Please click on the image for a larger view.

Where to start on this monster!

What is a class 7a building?  It is effectively a carpark for over 3 cars, this naturally excludes non-rural classifications  due to the 20 meters squared limit for non exempt developments.  It is interesting that the definition of a carport suitable for exemption is defined at least 2 open sides with at least 1/3 of the perimeter open.

Shedeye is not sure why some of these rules have not been applied to the Garden Shed exempt development for example

  • Must be at least 1 meter from any registered easement, sewer main or water main.
  • The roof of the development must be located at least 500mm from each lot boundary
  • 20 meters squared limit for allotments of less than 300 meters squared, and 25 meters squared limit for allotments greater than 300 meters squared

Why does a Garden Shed not require these rules, however a Carport does?

All in all the SEPP is a massive improvement and goes a long way to helping to improve the inconsistencies between councils in Australia.

For an overview of the rules and regulations in regard to sheds, carports and garages click here.

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When a Shed is not a Shed!

Posted on : February 26, 2011

It is very important to get the classification of your shed, garage or carport correct (Class 1a or Class 10a) as per the previous article.

Take the following Development Tribunal decision from the Toowoomba City Council as an example of getting the classification wrong.

In this case a carport was used as an entertainment pavilion, however the council gave approval as a Class 10a building in the expectation that the structure was to be used as a carport.  When the builder went to sell the property, the carport was completed and used in the promotions for the sale of the property, by the builder, as an entertainment pavilion. The applicants bought the property on the understanding that the structure could be used as an entertainment pavilion.

The new owner’s decided to put in a pool that would block vehicular access to the Class 10a structure.  The council came to the conclusion that “…when used as an entertainment pavilion it is considered habitable i.e used as part of living in the residence.”

This case became complex and eventually the ruling from the Tribunal was “in accordance with Section 4.2.34(2)(b) of the Integrated Planning Act 1997, changes the decision of the Toowoomba City Council, dated 6 September 2006, by allowing the structure to remain in it’s current location and re-classifies the existing structure from a Class 10a carport to a Class 1a building subject to the structure remaining 100% open at all times”

Who was responsible for paying the additional fees to convert the building from a Class 10a to a Class 1a?  Not to mention the amount of time that was invested from the new owners, in presenting their case to the Council and Tribunal and the delays it caused to adding their pool!

There are a great many cases where the classification has been made incorrectly and it has caused a great deal time delays, and in some cases cost.

Take a look at this article where a building was funded from the federal stimulus program for Black Rock Primary School, it was incorrectly classified as a Class 1oa and it looks like it will have to be moved.  Try moving a $200,000 shed!!

Mandy Grogan at the basketball stadium that does not comply with building and fire regulations – Photo: Justin McManus

What a pain, make sure you classify you shed correctly!

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