Detrimental effect of uncontrolled personal audio headset use within office environments during fire scenarios

Responding to a fire scenario via receipt of audible alert cues has always been a fundamental part of human behaviour, however a rising number of office workers, both nationally and internationally, are using personal audio headset devices which may be putting them at increased risk in a fire scenario. The rise in headset use has been attributed to a reliance on technological communications and the popularity of open-plan office arrangements. These changes have led to the professional acceptance of personal audio headsets being used throughout the working day in office environments.
Review of existing fire strategy design literature has identified gaps in consideration for occupant identification of fire alarm cues where elected audible headset devices are utilised.
Outcomes of this research identifies numerous trends pertaining to the risks associated with uncontrolled headset usage within office environments, namely:
 72.5% of participants reported general headset usage in a normal working day
 53.3% of participants reported required headset usage as part of workplace roles
 65% of participants confirmed their personal headset use as uncontrolled
 75% of participants reported office workplaces located within structures not requiring automated fire alarm systems in accordance with NCC DtS provisions
 78% of participants reported no presence of visual occupant warning fire alarms
 Personal headset usage within office environments is generally on the rise
As an immediate outcome of this research, it is hoped fire safety professionals may gain a greater understanding of the gaps present within traditional fire alarm design considerations.

Presenters

Dale Spurway-Humphries Associate Fire Safety and Fire Services Manager Lucid Consulting Australia

Dale Spurway-Humphries is a fire safety and fire services consultant with a unique combination of fire system trade experience as well as academic credentials in fire safety engineering and building surveying. Since commencing in the fire industry in 2007 he has undertaken roles as designer / draftsman, Electrician specialising in the installation and maintenance of fire protection systems, fire services and safety engineering consultant specialising in the remediation of existing buildings, and most recently leading the South Australian Fire Project Management division at Lucid Consulting Australia. These varying roles and experiences have provided him with vast insight into industry he so highly regards.