Does your business or building have a plan for dealing with unexpected emergencies? If you think you don’t need a plan, think again. 

If you are the owner, manager or operator of a facility, building or workplace with occupants or visitors, you are required to have an emergency evacuation plan in place. 

But this doesn’t mean a simple drawing pointing to an exit. An evacuation plan must meet specific requirements to comply with Workplace Health & Safety Regulations, or else you risk non-compliance fines and, even worse, putting your building occupants at risk. 

A survey conducted by Fire & Safety Australia has shown that, on average, less than 50% of building occupants know what action to take and where to evacuate to during an emergency. This creates panic resulting in a slow evacuation and ultimately exposes people to unnecessary danger. 

With a correctly designed and implemented evacuation plan, you’ll make sure evacuations run smoothly and everyone is accounted for as fast as possible, making it easier for emergency services and possibly saving lives. 

As stipulated in the NSW emergency management policy, your evacuation plan must incorporate the following:

Evacuation Diagrams

The evacuation diagram is a critical component of any evacuation plan. It is the responsibility of the building manager or business owner to ensure it is up-to-date and compliant. In accordance with AS3745, the evacuation diagram must show the following as a minimum:

  • Validity dates
  • Site address & name of the facility 
  • A symbol legend in accordance with the diagram
  • Designated exit points of the building
  • Evacuation routes
  • Location of firefighting equipment, including fire extinguishers, fire blankets, fire hose reels etc.
  • Location of Emergency Assembly Area 
  • The “You Are Here” location
  • Location of Fire Indicator Panel (FIP)

The evacuation diagram has specific requirements regarding location, size, orientation and presentation, so it’s not something you can mock up yourself and stick up with blue tack. For this reason, it’s best to have a fire safety expert assess the building and draw up a diagram tailored to your specific facility or site. 

Emergency Response Plan

An emergency response plan allows building occupants to be aware of their surroundings and who to contact in case of an emergency. These aren’t strictly limited to fire either; they could include everything from bomb threats and natural disasters to robberies, chemical spills/leaks or medical emergencies. 

The Emergency Response Procedure generally includes: 

  • Contact details for emergency & utility services such as the fire brigade.
  • Warden & other ECO member details.
  • Written Evacuation Procedures
  • First-attack firefighting equipment, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) information & instructions
  • The Evacuation Diagrams for the facility
  • Emergency Assembly Area location

Emergency Training

Emergencies can cause stress, panic and confusion, so everyone in the building must be adequately prepared and familiar with the evacuation procedures. The best way to ensure this is through emergency training. Elected fire wardens and occupants should undertake emergency fire training to rehearse their duties and preparedness according to the emergency response plan. 

From establishing responsibilities and operating a fire extinguisher to alerting the fire department and ensuring visitors or those with mobility issues are taken care of, emergency response training gives people the confidence to respond quickly and effectively to a fire. 

Ensuring that your evacuation plan is complete and compliant, it’s best to have a fire safety expert assist in drafting your emergency planning. 

At Betta Fire Protection, we have a team of evacuation planning professionals who will work with you to design an emergency evacuation plan that fits your business – ensuring compliance with all relevant Australian Standards and maximising safety.  Give us a call on (02) 8669 9100 to get your evacuation plan sorted.