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Information pageYou can save money on fire maintenance!

by John Carmichael

If you are with one of the big 3 fire companies you are probably being ripping off.
If you think that statement is a bit over the top, then read on, and see if you can prove me wrong:
Most people don't question their fire services bill, and wouldn't know if they are paying too much, or even if the extras they see on their bill are reasonable.

Get a detailed list of everything you are paying for in your 6 monthly and yearly fire maintenance service, and take it to another fire service company and ask them how much they would charge. Email it to us, we'll refer it to someone who can give you a free quote. Always ask for a detailed breakdown of any extra charges. If they involve replacing an existing extinguisher, it will always be cheaper to buy it, and install it, yourself.

Go and check that the work has actually been done! You're thinking "surely they wouldn't charge me for work they didn't do?". Unfortunately our experience is YES. We are not saying the big companies are dishonest, but there are many instances where it can only be concluded that their employees are cheating or bone lazy. We've even heard of companies charging for 6 monthly service testing, and nobody even turned up! At the very least you should be able to see a number stamped on the metal tag that hangs off your extinguisher or fire hose reel. The number should be stamped on the month that your service/test was conducted. For extinguishers there should be a stamped number every 6 months. Extinguishers older than 5 years must be either replaced, or pressure tested and refilled - see our article on this.

Fire Safety checkup


Be wary of very cheap quotes. There are some "backyard" operators who will do it for silly prices. Be aware that it is you (not them) who signs the certificate stating that your fire measures are up to scratch. It is YOUR responsibility to ensure that the person you hired is "suitably qualified". With the exception of Queensland, there is no recognised legal qualification or licence! It is yet to be tested in court, but if the worst was to happen, you would have to show that you ascertained that the person you hired to service and test your fire safety measures, was indeed "suitably qualified".

The tricks they don't want you to know:

Installing a fire extinguisher is easy, and does not require any special licence. Pay your fire service company to tell you where they go, and what size and type to buy, then do it yourself. All that's involved in installing a fire extinguisher, is really just drilling holes in the wall to fix the bracket. See our article on height location requirements.

Most fire companies make their money not by servicing your extinguishers, but by finding problems with your existing compliance measures. Don't just cop their price for replacing an extinguisher. Our fire extinguisher price list is here. If they say an extinguisher needs replacing, pressure testing, or refilling, check the price of that against a new replacement. You can replace it yourself with one you buy online, from us. Just lift the existing one off the hook and replace it with a new one of the same size and type. No qualification is needed to do this. All our extinguishers are supplied with a wall bracket, so if it doesn't go straight onto the existing bracket, remove it and use ours.

Save big bucks on a new installation
Get your fire services quote broken down: ask for separate figures for supply of items, and install/labour. Ask them for a price for their advice only, ie what size and type to buy. Ask the cost to sign off if you buy new items, and install them yourself to their requirements. Your fire service company only has one real skill, and that's its expertise in knowing what you need, and where it should go. That knowledge comes from their understanding of the Australian Standard. If you find a fire company that is willing to work with you in this way, then you should engage them to do the twice yearly maintenance.

Buy your own fire extinguishers (from us, of course). Most fire protection companies make enormous profits from the sale of extinguishers, the price of which is not usually disclosed on your quote or invoice.

Who is responsible for the Annual Fire Safety Statement?

Ultimately it is the owner of the building who is responsible. The AFSS has to be submitted every 12 months to the local Council and the Fire Brigade. A copy must also be posted at the premises. Council is responsible for enforcing AFSS. The Annual Fire Safety Statement is a declaration that all the fire safety measures in your building conform to the requirements of the Australian Standards. That statement is signed by the owner (see comments elsewhere on this page) If you are a tenant, it depends on what's in your lease as to whether you are responsible for expenses associated with keeping your fire measures up to the Australian Standard. However, as far as Council is concerned, it doesn't matter to them what is in your lease, they will hold the building owner responsible.

Australian Standards
There are 3 Australian Standards for each type of fire safety measure. One is the standard to which they are manufactured, another is the standard specifying where and how it is located and installed, and the third relates to how it should be maintained.
To comply, you have to satisfy all three. So for fire extinguishers, they have to be manufactured according to AS1841, selected, located and installed according to AS2444, and maintained according to AS1851. Another three standards apply to fire hose reels, etc. see our article on Australian Standards for fire

Further reading

Copyright Aug 2012 by J R Carmichael
Disclaimer: The advice on this page should not be relied upon for legal purposes, seek the services of a properly qualified solicitor if you need legal assistance for your fire safety measures.