The risk of emergencies such as fires escalating into full scale disasters in Doncaster Hill apartment buildings are very real. Councils and Owners Corporations have a legal and moral responsibility to provide systems and procedures to ensure that minor incidents do not escalate into full scale emergencies, if and when they do, occupants can be warned and efficiently evacuated to safety.

High Rise Building on Fire Click to Enlarge

High Rise on Fire
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High Rise Fire Dubai Click to enlarge

Hotel Fire 
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There have been growing concerns that current laws do not require fire-safety checks at the planning permit stage. Fire-safety elements are considered later during the building permit process, often once construction has begun. Even then, fire checks are usually conducted by building surveyors rather than by fire authorities. The MFB gets involved only when invited to do so by the developer or if it decides on an investigation. Unless you have a vigilant observer or a whistle blower, we would not know about dangers until it was too late. On one occasion  the MFB had to the use the freedom-of information laws to investigate the design of a high rise apartment complex on Doncaster Hill. After design flaws were found, the developer had to change plans until the fire brigade was satisfied that

tile development complied with requirements. The MFB’s discovery underscored findings of the Victorian auditor -general, who had analysed how closely the state’s builders followed the building code. Of 401 building permits examined, 96 per cent didn’t comply.

Stairways In Case of Fire Click to enlarge

Stairways In Case of Fire
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Never use a lift in the case of a fire. Lifts are not smoke or fire resistant. On every level of the building there is fire fighting equipment such as fire hose reels and portable fire extinguishers for residents to use in the case of fire.Know where these fire hose reels and portable fire extinguishers are and know how to use them.The front door of your apartment should be a certified fire resistant door. Making alterations to the front door can make it unsafe in the event of fire. Check with your building management before making alterations.

  • Exit points should be clearly identifiable by an illuminated green and white exit sign. Familiarise yourself with the exit points that are in your building and where they lead to.
  • Ensure your apartment has a suitable number of working smoke alarms installed.
  • Develop a home escape plan from your apartment, and practise it regularly.
  • Fire stairs provide a safe environment that will lead you to a safe place away from the building. Never chock open any fire stair doors as this will cause smoke and heat to enter the fire stairs.
  • Fire stair doors and external apartment doors are designed to self close every time. Report any problems with these doors to your building management immediately.
  • Never leave anything in a fire stair well at anytime!
  • Never place burning or hot materials, flammable liquids or oily rags into garbage chutes.
  • Sprinkler heads should not be interfered with. Never hang anything (coat hangers included) off sprinkler heads. You and your furniture will get very wet!
  • Damage to sprinkler heads, excessive smoke from the kitchen or steam from the bathroom are major causes of false alarms in residential high rise buildings, You may be charged $500 for the infringement and up to $130 for an administration fee.

Fire safety tips

If you cannot escape by the fire stairs, do the following:

  • Close all windows and doors to stop the smoke entering your apartment.
  • Call the fire services and tell them there is a fire in your apartment block. Tell them your apartment number and that you are unable to get out of your apartment safely, and then follow any advice given to you by the fire service



  1. Em Dee says:

    It is ridiculous that the Metropolitan Fire Brigade would have to go to the trouble of employing the freedom of information law to inspect a plan to see if it complies with fire safety standards. Never mind about the welfare of the high rise occupants..the bureaucrats have to make their presence felt! You would think the authority would be only too willing to have cooperated on such an important issue.

  2. Le Storm says:

    We cannot rule out terrorism, not just a fire, especially in the large apartment buildings where so many people are concentrated. Unfortunately people seem indifferent to the threat. We purchased our Doncaster Hill apartment nearly 4 years ago and have no knowledge of any evacuation plan for our building. We would sell it tomorrow if we could get our money back.

    1. Lady Major says:

      We know of a couple who paid $688,720.00 for a Doncaster Hill apartment back in 2011 and now have it for sale at $599,000.00. A loss of nearly $90,000.00, plus agents commission and solicitors costs… if they are able to sell it. Meanwhile in that period the price of detached established housing in the area has increased by approximately $400.000.00.

  3. Leeral says:

    When it is realised that a building does not comply with fire safety standards an alternative solution may have to be found but what if there is no alternative? All staircase wells should be pressurised to keep smoke out during a fire so as occupants are not asphyxiated while escaping a fire. Our building has a garbage room directly off the stairwell which I believe to be illegal and I can’t see how they can rectify the problem.

  4. Jasmine says:

    Age newspaper reports that a 55-storey skyscraper and a hotel have been added to growing list of Melbourne buildings installed with flammable cladding.
    The state’s building regulator has announced another seven buildings with non-compliant cladding were recently identified as part of their ongoing building audit.
    That process was launched after a near-catastrophic fire at the Lacrosse Building in Docklands was found to have been fuelled by combustible material on the tower’s facade. The audit has already netted other 15 buildings with non-compliant cladding, including the Royal Women’s Hospital, which has been placed on a heightened fire response due to fears its cladding could fuel an unusually ferocious blaze. It seems as though resident safety is being trivialised in favour of the developer.

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