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Apartment fire threats

The Federal Government estimates that every year, more than 4500 fires across Australia are caused by cigarettes. One of the biggest causes of fire in apartments and other residential homes is cigarettes which have not been extinguished properly.

Fires in apartments can have a devastating effect on the whole apartment block. Apartment fires have the potential to spread heat, smoke and fire throughout the building very quickly, not only causing considerable damage but also putting the lives of residents at risk.

Some fires in apartments have been caused by a smoker on a balcony leaving it smoldering on an outside table on their deck. Or they flick it off their balcony and it lands on a balcony below, setting fire to items on the other occupant's deck.

Increasing threat

Another increasing fire threat is overheating lithium batteries (officially known as lithium-ion batteries).

The greater use of these batteries has seen fires correspondingly increase. They are contained in everything from large-scale solar energy storage systems to hybrid and electric vehicles, and smaller scale devices like laptops. Most portable electronic devices use single lithium cells, such as cell phones, smart-watches and e-cigarettes. They are also now used extensively for higher-powered portable applications like power tools, remote-controlled vehicles, lawn mowers, bikes and scooters and even in children's toys

Emergency Services departments warn that with the use of lithium batteries expected to increase over the next few years, this could result in a surge of preventable blazes.

Lithium batteries are extremely sensitive to high temperatures and highly flammable. They tend to degrade quickly due to heat. If a lithium battery pack fails, it will burst into flames and can cause widespread damage. Fires mainly start during charging.

Once lithium battery fires take hold, they are notoriously difficult to put out.

Apartment residents should be careful to keep them away from flammable material and ensure they use charging systems specifically manufactured for your product rather than less costly, unbranded versions.

Lithium batteries should not be left on a permanent charge— even overnight can trigger overheating. When the device is charged, it should be unplugged.

Be prepared

Strata communities can do a lot to minimise fire risks in their buildings.

Regular fire safety checks should be at the very top of the strata committee’s list. As strata property’s mandatory fire safety requirements will differ a little from state to state, each property’s strata committee should be aware of their local requirements.

Fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, sprinklers and smoke alarms, should be serviced and maintained regularly to ensure they are in good working order and fire doors needed to be clear of any obstructions.

 If there is a fire, it’s important the apartments have an evacuation plan, and all occupants are aware of it.