Megastructures and fire risks: the challenges of complexity and automation

Increased automation of factories and warehouses makes it easier to process and deliver products quickly to the market.

But they create their own challenges for fire safety.

Tightly packed product storage and the use of robotic retrieval systems have become increasingly attractive for supply chains, particularly during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Global companies such as Amazon are investing in huge warehouses, such as the 200,000 sqm facility in Western Sydney, and automating many of its functions.

But this increases risk and the potential for a fire to break out that cannot be reached by fire fighters.

Density of storage sees flammable commodities packed more closely to each other, leaving fewer aisles or passageways that could be accessed by fire fighters to reach a blaze.

This storage requires open-top bins that prevent water or flame retardants from getting through to the fire, making it harder to extinguish.

The result, potentially, is a conflagration that burns longer and causes more damage to the building, its products, and the company brand.

What should the price of convenience be?


Michael Stuckings

Group Manager Account Engineering, AFM Insurance

In his current role as Group Manager Account Engineering, Michael is responsible for leading of team of engineers who provide expert loss prevention engineering, risk management and business continuity advice to some of Australia and New Zealand’s largest companies. Michael is also involved in a number of external organisations including the Insurance Council of Australia, Fire Protection Association of Australia and Standards Australia. Michael is the current Chairman of Australian Standards committee FP-004: Automatic Fire Sprinkler Installations.

Since joining the FM Global group in 2001 Michael has also worked as Operations Chief Engineer, Group Manager Field Engineering and as a consultant engineer. Michael’s prior experience includes 10 years working as an electrical engineer in both the coal mining and water/wastewater industries where he gained skills in design engineering, project management, maintenance and operations.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Newcastle and a Masters of Commerce (Finance) from the University of NSW.

Murray Mackne FPAA 2022

Inspector Murray Mackne

Fire Safety Advisory Unit, Fire and Rescue NSW

Inspector Murray Mackne is an operational firefighter serving with Fire and Rescue NSW for 32 years. He has spent the last four years of his career working as a Team Leader with the Fire Safety Advisory Unit in the Community Safety Branch, where he provides advice to industry on the suitability of Performance based design solutions presented by Industry to FRNSW. The branch has approximately 50 staff with a mix of administration, engineering, and operational staff.

Ian Collins

Ian Collins

Emergency Plan Strategist, Fire Awareness Technology

Ian Collins is a Fire Safety Assessor, Emergency Plan Consultant and Trainer who believes in protecting life and property through implementation of an Emergency Plan.

Qualifications: Mechanical Engineering, Training and Assessment, Fire Safety Assessor and Advisor.

With over 40 years’ experience in Emergency Plan development, Training, Fire Safety Audits and Special Hazards Fire Systems design.

Positions: Fire Safety Coordinator for American Express Australia/New Zealand, First 5 Minutes, consultancy roles with Fire Awareness Technology, Noel Arnold & Associates, Baseline training, Eagle Fire, and the Insurance Council of Australia serving on Australian Standard FP12 together Wormald/Fire Control Special Hazards divisions.

Tass Georgas

Tass Georgas

Manager and Senior Engineer - Fire Safety Strategy, Policy and Reform, Fire Rescue Victoria

Tass is the current Manager and Senior Engineer of Fire Rescue Victoria’s Fire Safety Strategy, Policy and Reform unit. Following the highly publicised Lacrosse Apartments and Grenfell tower fires, his and his team’s principal focus is to advocate for legislative and technical fire safety reform, which supports safer buildings and firefighting environments.

Tass’ professional fire safety journey commenced more than 20 years ago when he joined the Country Fire Authority, which subsequently lead to 19 years of service with the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade and now Fire Rescue Victoria. Prior to joining Victoria’s fire services, Tass worked in local government and private industry as a building surveyor and building inspector.

Tass academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Technology in Building Surveying and Master of Engineering in Construction Management at Swinburne University. Tass has also completed the Graduate Diploma in Building Fire Safety and Risk Engineering at Victoria University. Since graduating, he has continued to deliver the fire brigade intervention model theory to students undertaking the Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate courses at VU.

Tass is a registered fire safety engineer with Victoria’s Business Licensing Authority and he also maintains registration in the categories of  building surveyor and building inspector with the Victorian Building Authority.

Tass is a passionate supporter of the round ball game and on most Sunday afternoons, you will often find Tass at Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium, supporting South Melbourne FC.

David Lonergan

David Lonergan

Technical Manager, FPA Australia

On 1 March, 2022, David Lonergan joined the FPA Australia team as Technical Manager, based in Sydney.

David is well known to the fire protection industry, with over 30 years’ experience in consulting and contracting, working with companies such as Sydney and Melbourne Airports, Sydney Metro, Arcadis, WSP, and Exova Warringtonfire.

He has worked on several major infrastructure projects including the North West Rail Link, iconic structures such as Places of Worship – Qatar and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and a variety of building types, including large complex residential towers, aged care facilities, industrial developments, and government buildings.

David is a fire safety engineer and an accredited FPAS practitioner in fire systems design and fire systems certification, and has been a long-term contributor to our Technical Advisory Committees.

With hands-on knowledge of the fire protection sector, a passion for education and technical consistency, and a strong working knowledge of standards and regulations, David will provide excellent support and counsel to the current technical team.