DEM Fire guide to three-part fire evacuation plans

Evacuation plans, smoke detector and manual call point

Whilst DEM Fire provides holistic fire prevention services, all building owners, agents and managers have certain fire safety responsibilities, which in addition to fire compliance and certification include a key imperative to ensure the safety of the people who live within, work in and visit your property.

A key part of these obligations is a comprehensive Fire Evacuation Plan.

Typically, every large commercial property will have an Emergency Planning Committee (EPC) as defined in the Australian standard for occupational health and safety, AS 3745-2010. The EPC is responsible for developing and managing your property’s fire evacuation plan.

There are three key components to a Fire Evacuation Plan for commercial, industrial and construction sites: evacuation diagrams, an Emergency Response Plan and emergency training.

Evacuation diagrams

It is the responsibility of the ‘Persons conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU) – typically a building manager or owner – to have current evacuation diagrams and ensure they are visible in public spaces.

Colleagues checking the fire exit emergency plan

The requirements for diagrams are listed under AS 3745-2010 and include:

  • Dates of implementation
  • Business name and site address
  • The ‘You Are Here’ location
  • Evacuation routes
  • Designated exit points including fire exit doors
  • Designated emergency assembly area
  • Fire Indicator Panel (FIP)
  • Firefighting equipment locations
  • Diagram symbol legend.

Optional elements for the diagram include location of fire extinguishers, electrical distribution boards, first aid stations, emergency pathways and emergency information such as phone numbers and evacuation procedures.

There are additional guidelines as per the standards that define the number of emergency diagrams required for your property, diagram orientation in relation to ‘You are here’, minimum size (A4), display locations and distance from floor and ceiling.

Emergency response plans

The first step in establishing an Emergency Response Plan is to set up an Emergency Control Organisation (ECO), which includes all staff appointed to specific emergency duties such as the chief warden, floor wardens, emergency coordinators, first-aid officers and communications officers.

Your Emergency Response Plan is a written document that lists the roles and names of these staff members and contact details. Additionally, it includes evacuation guidelines, information on how to manage visitors, specific risks for the property, a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) for any staff who require additional assistance plus other essential information.

You must make emergency response plans, or a summary of the plan’s key elements, readily accessible to staff and site tenants.

Additionally, anyone who operates a Major Hazard Facility (any facility that has chemicals in excess of 10 percent of their threshold quantity) or stores dangerous goods or explosives must lodge the Emergency Response Plan with Fire and Rescue NSW.

Emergency Response Plans should be reviewed annually, and you can be subject to large fines if you fail to implement or update your plan.

Fire safety specialists inspecting building

Emergency training

Training is a key element of fire evacuation plans. It is essential for staff and tenants and to ensure ECO members such as fire wardens are familiar with their role in the event of an outbreak – and can assist staff and visitors to safely evacuate.

You must train appointed emergency staff in procedures before and after a fire outbreak, and it is crucial to conduct regular fire drills so that staff and tenants are familiar with evacuation procedures, including exit pathways, location of fire exit doors and external meeting points.

The training will vary depending on the nature and size of your property. As outlined in AS3745:2010, ECO skills retention training will be no more than six months apart, firefighting equipment training must be no more than two years apart, and you should conduct fire drills at least every 12 months.

Engineer with tablet check red generator pump

Comprehensive fire prevention

Fire evacuation plans are one part of comprehensive fire protection that also includes solution design, system installation, asset management and fire compliance.

With a team of highly skilled and accredited fire safety designers and practitioners in-house, DEM Fire oversees complete fire prevention solutions. We can also advise you on all your fire safety obligations.

We’re committed to expert fire prevention solutions for shopping centres, stadiums, commercial strata and industrial facilities, universities and even landmark arts companies.

Read more about fire safety maintenance, and please contact us for an expert fire prevention solution.

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