As a facility manager, the responsibility to ensure your building(s) are prepared for an emergency ultimately falls on your shoulders. While this may seem a daunting prospect, reducing your risk exposure is simple if you tackle each compliance requirement in a structured manner.
The elements listed below explain what actions are required to set up your emergency planning initiatives for the first time, achieve 100% Compliance to your specific obligations, and maintain 100% compliance in the future.
Establish an Emergency Planning Committee (EPC) and Appoint a Fire Safety Advisor
An Emergency Planning Committee (EPC) is formed for each facility by the persons responsible for that facility, and is a requirement of Australian Standard 3745-2010.
Your emergency planning committee compliance obligations:
Have at least one member trained appropriately in EPC training
Meet regularly (at least annually) and record meetings
Maintain on and offsite records
Develop the emergency plan
Identifying events that could eventuate in an emergency situation
Ensuring that the emergency plan is readily identifiable and available to the appropriate persons
Establishing an emergency control organisation (ECO) to operate in accordance with the emergency plan
If deemed necessary, establishing a specialist emergency response team (ERT)
Depending on the nature of the particular facility(s), the EPC may be formed either for an individual facility, or group of facilities. However as a facility manager, it is your responsibility to ensure that the EPC has adequate resources to enable the development and implementation of the emergency plan.
Fire Safety Advisor
In Queensland, it is a requirement under the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 to have a Fire Safety Advisor if you have 30 or more staff and/ or depending on your type of facility.
Compliance obligations include:
Being the nominated, trained and licensed Fire Safety Advisor for the building and/or tenancy
Reviewing/ co-ordinating the current building/ tenancies Fire and Evacuation Plan
Co-ordinating any surveys, training, or document reviews
Ensuring required training and exercises for the building are undertaken
Ensuring compliance to legislation and relevant Australian Standards
The legislation allows having outside consultants, such as EvacServices, act as your Fire Safety Advisor.
Document your Written Emergency Plan and Response Procedures
The written emergency plan documents the systems, strategies and procedures relating to the response and management of emergencies.
The EPC in collaboration with the facility owners, managers and occupiers are required to determine which types of emergencies warrant specific emergency response procedures within the emergency plan.
The EPC, ECO, the management of the facility and nominated staff must participate in the implementation and maintenance of the emergency plan, as appropriate to their role within the organisation.
The emergency plan shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
Activities for preparing for, and prevention of emergencies, such as training, and maintenance
Overall control and coordination arrangements for emergency response, this must include evacuation strategies for occupants with a disability
The agreed roles and responsibilities of the emergency control organisation and occupants of the facility in preparation for, during and after an emergency
The emergency plan must include, but not be limited to, the following elements:
A clear statement of purpose and scope.
Information on the structure and purpose of the ECO.
Identification of the facilities to which it applies.
Descriptions of the fire safety and emergency features of the facility.
The organisational arrangements for the facility.
The emergency procedures shall address the method of warning and communication to be used during an emergency.
An emergency response procedure is also developed for all facilities addressing the following:
The responsibilities and duties of the ECO and the actions they are to take during an emergency, including those roles and duties previously outlined.
The responsibilities of facility occupants and the actions they are to take in an emergency.
The arrangements for evacuating the facility.
The arrangements for emergency preparedness and response.
The current emergency contact details.
Mobility Impaired Occupants
The emergency plan and response procedures must also document the procedures for mobility impaired occupants. As part of this process, Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans, or P.E.E.P.s, are required to be filled out for each mobility impaired occupant, and kept with the responsible warden and at the emergency control point.
Mobility impaired occupants include both permanently and temporarily impaired occupants.
You can download a template for the P.E.E.P. here.
Draft your Emergency Evacuation Diagrams
One of the key requirements of compliancy with Australian Standard 3745, is the correct design and installation of Evacuation Diagrams and Signs.
Evacuation diagrams & signs that provide emergency and evacuation information must be displayed in all facilities, in locations where occupants and visitors are able to view them. The location within the facility and number of evacuation diagrams are determined by the EPC.
In most cases, building management should install diagrams in the common areas of the buildings. Tenants are responsible for ensuring that there are diagrams installed within their tenanted areas. Of course, this may be different at your depending on leasing requirements.
The place that corresponds to the place in the building where the diagram is displayed. E.g. ‘You are here’ signage.
The route from (you are here) to the nearest exit.
Each exit of the building.
Any intercommunication devices in the common areas, e.g. Warden Intercommunication Points.
The location of manual call points or break glass alarms
The location of any firefighting equipment in the building e.g. fire extinguishers and hose reels.
The designated assembly areas for evacuation outside the building.
Although there are specific elements that the diagrams must include, the standards and regulations allow for a degree of design freedom, so you can make the diagrams both visually appealing and equally functional.
Establish your Emergency Control Organisation (Wardens)
The Emergency Control Organisation (ECO) is the person or persons appointed by the EPC to direct and control the implementation of the facility’s emergency response procedures. The ECO is also commonly referred to as the warden team.
It is important that the ECO be appropriate to the facility and to the emergency response procedures as documented in the emergency plan.
The titles of ‘chief warden’, ‘communications officer’, ‘floor warden’ or ‘area warden’ ‘warden’ and ‘assembly area co-ordinator’ should be used when these positions are included in the ECO. Titles for other positions may be determined by the EPC.
Facility management must ensure that wardens at the facility are identifiable in an emergency situation by the use of coloured apparel, such as helmets, caps and vests.
Chief Warden, deputies and communications officers are identified with a white helmet
Floor and Area wardens are identified with a yellow helmet
Wardens are identified with a red helmet
First Aid officers are identified with a green helmet with a white cross.
Warden responsibilities are set out within the Emergency Plan and communicated to the wardens during training. Further information on warden responsibilities is available here.
Facility Managers should review the wardens at their site at least monthly to ensure that the ECO is appropriate for the facility, and that the lists remain up to date. We recommend using a warden management system, such as EvacConnect, to make this job easy.
Undertake training requirements
There are specific training requirements for EPC, ECO and general occupants.
All occupants, including ECO members, must receive training to enable them to act in accordance with the emergency response procedures (annually), and first attack firefighting (every 2 years).
Some state requirements require occupants receive basic information on how to safely evacuate within 48 hours of first starting on site.
Emergency Planning Committee
At least 1 member of the EPC must be appropriately trained
Emergency Control Organisation
All members of the ECO must attend training at intervals not greater than 6 months
In addition to the ECO training, the Chief Warden must also receive additional training in relation to their duties
Some states require qualified Fire Safety Advisors to provide training in certain workplaces. In most cases, training can be undertaken online through a system such as EvacConnect.
The ECO and occupants shall be supplied with training materials appropriate to each person’s role and level of responsibility as determined by the emergency plan. Training materials must be site specific.
Regular checks of the communication system should be carried out, either at monthly intervals, or as determined by the EPC. Records shall be retained.
Partake in an Evacuation Exercise
A program of site-specific emergency response exercises must be developed at each facility. The aim of these exercises are to determine the effectiveness of the emergency response procedures, ECO actions and occupants’ response, both when first developed and on an ongoing basis.