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The east coast of Australia has seen an early start to the 2019 bushfire season with severe smoke haze and poor air quality throughout much of New South Wales and southern Queensland. The Insurance Council of Australia estimates insured losses from the early season bushfires to be over $165 million.

Smoke from these fires has settled over Sydney and Canberra, setting off fire alarms and halting ferry services as famous landmarks disappeared behind some of the worst smoke haze seen in many years. 

 

The smoky conditions affected numerous properties owned and operated by Chubb policyholders. Often smoke detection systems need to be isolated to prevent false alarms and unnecessary system activation but this can lead to increased risk in the event of an actual fire, particularly for unmanned spaces. 

 

If isolation of smoke detection systems is necessary, the following precautions and alternative arrangements can help to significantly reduce the risk:

 

  1. Notify appropriate third parties and authorities such as tenants, the fire brigade and insurers (fireimpairment.au@chubb.com) of any fire protection system impairments. 

     

  2. Ensure that key staff, security and/or fire wardens (covering all shifts) are alerted, and that procedures are in place to raise the alarm and activate suppression systems, should a fire be observed.

     

  3. Implement additional patrols when smoke detection systems are isolated. The focus should be on higher risk, business critical and unmanned areas. In situations where the premises are fully protected by automatic sprinklers it may be possible to reduce the need for additional inspections.

     

  4. Every effort should be made to avoid hot work when smoke detection systems are isolated. If any cutting, welding, or other hot work is necessary then we strongly recommend that formal hot work management procedures are in place. The Chubb hot work permit is available on our website

     

  5. Please send the completed Fire Impairment Form (available on our website) to fireimpairment.au@chubb.com for larger or longer duration impairments such as those involving:

    • more than 10% of the site or the data rooms; and
    • extending longer than 8 hours or overnight
       
  6. Restore any isolated smoke detection systems, fire protection and security equipment at the earliest opportunity.

     

For further advice on bushfire preparation, safety procedures and current warnings, we recommend reading information by the NSW Rural Fire Service. We also have Bushfire safety tips available on our website. 

 

Chubb has a team of dedicated risk engineers who can assist policyholders in preparing for the bushfire season.

 

For more information, please contact Risk.Engineering.au@chubb.com

1As of 13 December 2019

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