Emergency Procedures and Planning – What is it and why do we need it?
For many a Fire Safety Officer, planning for the unpredictable is second nature.
While it can be tough to tell when disaster might strike, it makes the process simple. If we don’t know when an emergency should occur, then procedures and plans must be put in place so that we are always ready to respond to an array of emergency situations.
Knowing The Building
Emergency planning requires an intimate understanding of the building.
For example, to make emergency evacuation diagrams to display throughout a large building, it can’t just be any old cookie cut version of the same reused plan. It has to be relevant to the physical structure of the property, as well as any other legal requirements about fire escapes.
Communication is Key
One way to improve the overall safety of the building is to clearly inform the people that spend the most time in the building, often the tenants or employees, the best course of action to take.
It’s great to have the building owners and employers informed, but everyone should be empowered to help themselves and even help others in a disaster or hazardous scenario.
There are Australian standards (AS:3745-2010) for emergency plans that must be adhered to. It has to be clear about where the evacuation routes are and where the emergency equipment is kept. It should also outline the different kinds of emergency alarms, and provide a clear set of procedures for what to do during different types of emergency situations.
These procedures include:
- Exiting the building
- Assembly Areas
- Assisting disabled
- Personal Threats
To make sure that your Emergency Plan’s instructions are clear and effective, test evacuations can be a helpful exercise. It provides valuable insight into areas of weakness and strength. It can allow for changes to be made to the plan.
If it’s a subpar emergency plan or the occupants are unprepared, lives could be at stake.
Everyone should be made intimately aware of the procedures and their roles in the case of an emergency.
Wardens & Emergency Planning Success
Wardens are another way to ensure the success of emergency planning in your building. They need to do some training, but once that is completed, they will be prepared to handle an emergency. The recommended method for training fire wardens is to have a mixture of online and face to face.
Are Your Plans up to Date?
These plans must be regularly kept up to date with the most recent legislation and should account for any changes in the building structure itself from things like renovations.
What can happen if I’m not compliant?
Essentially, non-compliance opens up the corporation, business owners and managers for lawsuits.
Not only are you potentially costing yourself a lot of money in fines, legal fees and payouts, but you are also endangering the lives of employees and gambling the entire livelihood of the business and the property it operates from. There is also the genuine threat of jail time.
It is a mandatory requirement under Australian law that an emergency plan is put into place.