The Coricraft store on fire in Boksburg

You would think working close to a fire station would give peace of mind that should a fire break out, the fire department would be able to respond quickly and save the day.

While the fire department does train to respond rapidly, fire moves faster than humans can react. There are many variables that affect how quickly a building fire spreads but generally, without any protection systems installed in a building, the fire department has less than five minutes to get on site and start fighting the fire.

Earlier today a fire broke out at a shopping centre in Boksburg. While information is scarce as to the source of the fire (some witness reports state that Coricraft left the roof aircon on overnight and it shorted, causing the fire) it is clear that a Coricraft shop was the first building to go up in flames which then posed the risk of spreading to adjacent stores. The centre has been evacuated with no loss of life reported but it does bring up the important question – was a proper risk management process followed in determining how best to mitigate all risks of the centre?

When a landlord requires insurance on a building, a company is often contracted to evaluate the premises and install a fire protection system that suits the category of business. A Coricraft shop has highly flammable contents in the form of furniture, so would require a different system than say, a restaurant where gas cookers are used to prepare food. Once a fire protection system is installed, ASIB often gets called to inspect the system and write a report evaluating if the system is fit for purpose, according to a specific standard. That report is used by brokers and insurance companies to assess the risk of insuring a premises, in combination with other factors.

Where a building has been adequately sprinkler protected, generally a fire can be controlled to a limited area until the fire department arrives and extinguishes the fire. Where a building hasn’t been properly sprinkler protected, it stacks the odds against the fire department being able to contain and suppress a fire.