Antiquation – Australia and outdated fire logic.

I recently found myself in a hot debate in one of the worst imaginable places on earth. Yup, Facebook, the place of hero’s and zeros who dual it out to post happy and politically neutral non-offensive banter in order to sell the dream of utopian bliss, the like button. Sadly however, the reality of my point must have detracted from the kumbaya point of the group and it was swiftly deleted.

What I was indeed focusing on made me consider an important and critical factor around reality, common sense and logic in stressful situations. As my current studies and supervisor have shown me, the world and realm of disaster response, management and resilience is both complex, challenging and forever changing.

Let me ask you before I get into the crux of it… If you we’re with a loved one in a public place, for some reason your phone wasn’t working and you had no means of calling for help. Suddenly your loved one became ill, you panic for a moment and rush to recall something about DR-AB-, something, something you were taught. Now what, “shit, I need help” you say to yourself. Suddenly you glance up and see a big red button with the words FIRE ALARM written on it. What do you do?..

I have asked a few people including our experienced current and ex emergency staff, the answer was clear. My original positive, yet challenging response to a company advert on this FB group saying something to the effect of ‘SEE THIS?.. DON’T DO IT!.. Fines for misusing a fire alarm can be serious’. I politely challenged the concept. After all, do we have to use it ONLY for a fire, what about smoke sightings, chemical spills, car crashes, chest pain, structural collapse, break and enters, broken lifts etc etc. I even went so far as to call the state in questions fire brigade and simply ask… “Hey mate, if I had…”. Of which the answer was a resounding “YEAH, why wouldn’t you?!” from, this particular Station Officer (SO), and yes of course I agreed with him. You see we are referencing outdated and antiquated logic that does not allow for a realistic person to take charge, use whats readily available around them and defend their life, space, property and situation with an available option. Now for sure, sections of the Act relate to the misuse of fire alarms in a criminal negligent and facetious manner. BUT, does this include the aim protecting oneself and the above? Do we really push wording so hardthat we sell that as fear to drum up ‘sure business’. Well we don’t accept this logic and will openly challenge antiquation as the ‘norm’ because it’s a ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ position. What traumatic event has ever been safe and secure? When has fire and rescue fined a person for activating the Emergency Warning System (EWS) to signal the Automatic Signalling Equipment (ASE) to dispatch a truck with 4 very qualified and responsive subject matter experts to assist, call for police, for more support or medical care? Further, after scrolling the act, (not to far) it goes on to say;

150B False calls (1) A person must not—

(a) ask QFES to provide a fire and emergency service at a place unless the service is required at the place; or (b) give a false alarm of fire. Maximum penalty— (a) if the offence is committed during a state of fire emergency at a place to which the declaration of emergency applies—250 penalty units or 1 year’s imprisonment; or (b) otherwise—100 penalty units or 1 year’s imprisonment. (2) For subsection (1), a request may be made orally, in writing or by conduct. Example of conduct being a request for QFES to provide a fire and emergency service at a place— activation of a break-glass alarm (3) An infringement notice under the State Penalties Enforcement Act 1999 may be issued to a person for a contravention of [s 150C] subsection (1) only if a fire investigation officer is satisfied, having investigated, the person does not have a lawful excuse.

Now my story doesn’t end here. With emergencies coming in all shapes and sizes and events of ever-increasing nature taking hold as common place in our world, society and existence, is it time for a re-think? Is a big red button with FIRE ALARM outdated? Are we that backward that we cannot draw the conclusion that its an alarm that calls the services of the nearest fire and rescue service through the operations centre of the state or local area command? Does hyper-referencing only part of a law from well over twenty years ago counter the realism of a sharp increase of dependancy (age, health, population), improvement of technology (better and prolific) and an improvement of capability (fire rescue medical capacity and training) outweigh the logical conclusion of hitting the big red button? Can we indeed hit it if we really need? Is this telling us more by-way of catalyst?

We believe more work needs to be done to educate, promote and to push for better realism and practicality of installed systems, training and public awareness of this life saving logic. Sorry to push and offend our social media friendly ‘safe space’ but can we please re-learn the art of debate and cultured logic before mum gets hurt.

To end and in summary, “mate, if you were laying there with chest pain, I’d hit the scary red button if I had to”.

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