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Building Regulations: Fire Evacuation

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Fire Evacuation

Employers and personnel in charge of a workplace are responsible for developing a fire evacuation procedure and ensuring adequate practice and training is provided to all staff.

In this article, we discuss:

  • Fire evacuation procedures

  • Fire evacuation distance from building

  • Fire exit building regulations

  • Passive fire control for commercial buildings

What are the fire evacuation regulations for commercial buildings in Australia?

Anyone responsible for or in control of a workplace must ensure they do the following:

  • Develop an evacuation plan for fire emergencies.

  • Display the evacuation procedure clearly in the workplace with diagrams that indicate where the emergency exits are and a "you are here" symbol.

  • Practice the evacuation procedure at regular intervals.

  • Train any staff who may be required to assist with controlling or distinguishing the fire or directing other people to the evacuation route.

What should be in a fire evacuation plan?

A fire evacuation procedure is an important document that explains the steps you will take in case of a fire emergency. It should be clear and easy to understand.

When developing evaluation strategies for a workplace, you should consult the employees and make an assessment of the workplace to identify potential hazards.

Your evaluation process should include:

  • Phone numbers of relevant emergency services

  • Address of the nearest hospital

  • The personnel who are responsible for calling emergency services in case of a fire

  • The personnel who are responsible for responding to the emergency (for example, using fire extinguishers or applying first aid)

  • How staff will be alerted of the emergency (for example, fire alarms and/or visual alarms)

  • Clear, actionable steps you will take (in chronological order)

What are the steps of a fire evacuation procedure?

An emergency evacuation process should be developed for the specific workplace, which means not all procedures will be the same.

Below is an example of steps in a fire evacuation process:

  1. Assist building occupants who are in immediate danger (if safe)

  2. Restrict and reduce the danger if safe to do so. This may include using a fire extinguisher, shutting doors and windows or turning off the power.

  3. Raise the alarm to notify building occupants.

  4. Call for emergency help from the fire department.

  5. Attempt to extinguish the fire (only if you are trained and qualified to do so).

  6. Evacuate the building using the safest escape routes and the nearest exit.

  7. Gather at the designated assembly area and make sure everyone is accounted for. Wait for further instructions from emergency personnel.

What is the ideal fire evacuation distance from a building?

An 'assembly point' is the place where building occupants should meet after they have evacuated from the building. It should be a safe distance from the building, but it should also be easy and safe to access by all people, including elderly individuals, children, and those with disabilities.

A general guide for how far to place the assembly point from the building is to multiply the building height by 2. For example, for a two-story building that is 8 meters high, the assembly point should be at least 16m away.

When deciding where to have an assembly point, advice from professionals and local council bodies should be sought to ensure the ideal location is chosen.

Fire exit building regulations

Emergency exit doors and fire-rated doors in commercial and office buildings must comply with the Building Code of Australia. They should be clearly marked and signs should be installed which point to them.

Fire escape routes (including hallways) should be kept free of obstructions and clearly marked to enable safe passage in the case of an emergency.

Fire exits should generally be at least 1 metre wide, but advice from the local council should be consulted based on the specific workplace and local building regulations.

Fire control systems for commercial buildings

Fire safety systems typically fall into one of two categories: passive or active fire control.

Passive systems (like fire proof doors and windows) are always working and do not need to be activated. Active systems (such as alarms and sprinklers) must be activated in the event of an emergency.

Both active and passive systems are essential for commercial buildings, including high-rise buildings. All systems must comply with the regulations outlined in the Building Code of Australia (AS4072.1 and AS1530.4).

Regular maintenance and testing are also required to ensure all fire-rated systems are in good working condition. Being prepared for a fire emergency at all times can save lives and better protect your building and assets.

Order fire control systems with Australian Fire Control today

Ensuring your workspace is equipped with high-quality fire control systems that meet Australian Standards is an essential step towards improving safety for all occupants.

Australian Fire Control specializes in a range of fire control systems, including fire rated doors and windows,

steel protection solutions, and more. We can also assist with AS1851 maintenance.

Give us a call today to discuss your project needs.

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