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Fire Emergency Procedures: A Guide for Australian Businesses

6 Nov, 2023

Being prepared for a fire emergency is absolutely critical for all Australian businesses. 

Ensuring that your employees and customers are protected during a fire emergency should be a top priority for any business. Having a well-structured emergency evacuation plan is the key way to achieve this. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the essentials of fire safety and emergency procedures, with a focus on keeping it simple and memorable for all involved.

Keys to Effective Fire Emergency Procedures

Complex procedures are often forgotten when panic sets in. To counteract this panic, your emergency procedures should be simple and memorable. Regular training and drills are key to ensuring that every member of your team knows what to do in an emergency.

Plus, in the event of a fire, everyone in your business should understand their role. Whether it’s sounding the alarm, assisting with evacuation, or managing communication, each person’s contribution is vital.

Make Your Emergency Procedures Memorable

One of the best ways to stop panic from leading to forgetfulness is through the use of mnemonics and acronyms. They can help make emergency procedures easier to recall, even in stressful situations. One valuable tool is the RACE acronym:

  • Remove: Identify and remove individuals from immediate danger.
  • Alarm/Alert: Sound the alarm or alert others to the fire.
  • Confine: Attempt to confine the fire, if safe to do so.
  • Extinguish/Evacuate: Extinguish the fire (if it’s small and manageable) or evacuate the area if it’s not safe to fight the fire.

Immediate Actions

Alarm and Emergency Notification

All employees should know how to activate the building’s fire alarm system. Regular fire drills can help ensure that this knowledge is ingrained. As soon as the alarm is activated, it’s essential to notify emergency services. A swift response can make all the difference in preventing further damage and ensuring the safety of everyone involved.

Communication During a Fire Emergency

In your organisation, ensure that there are trained and designated emergency response personnel. Their expertise can be a lifeline during an emergency. When you’re planning for an emergency, it’s also essential to select a designated point of contact who is responsible for coordinating communication. They will have the authority to make critical decisions and convey information to employees, ensuring that everyone is safe and accounted for. 

Physical Accessibility of Emergency Procedures

As part of your emergency planning procedures, it’s critical that you mark emergency exits clearly, and ensure that fire safety equipment is easily accessible and regularly checked for functionality. It’s also essential to have detailed maps, and signs, as well as clear and easily understandableevacuation diagrams, which will help everyone navigate the building safely in the event of a fire. Regularly review and update these maps to reflect any changes in the layout. You’ll be very thankful for these in an emergency. 

Assembly Points and Evacuation Locations

Designating assembly points where everyone can gather safely after evacuating the building are critical, helping to ensure accountability while also aiding in headcounts, which are vital in a fire emergency. Make sure that headcounts are performed at assembly points to ensure that everyone is safe.

Special Considerations: Assistance and Disabled Occupants

Some individuals may require special assistance during an evacuation. Have clear protocols in place to support them, and consider tasking specific individuals with helping disabled occupants. Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) are a highly effective way to plan for the safe evacuation of disabled occupants. 

Responsibility of Fire Wardens or Marshalls

Appoint fire wardens or marshalls whose primary responsibility is to assist with evacuations and ensure that everyone follows the emergency procedures diligently.

Post-Evacuation: What Comes Next?

Checklist for Post-Evacuation Protocol

After evacuating, it’s important for businesses to have a structured post-evacuation protocol. This should include checking for any remaining occupants, notifying emergency responders, and accounting for everyone.

Role of Emergency Responders

Emergency responders play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of your business and its occupants. Therefore, it is vital to follow their guidance before and after evacuation.

Legal Requirements and Compliance in Australia

In Australia, fire safety codes of practice and regulations vary from state to state. It’s essential to understand and comply with the codes of practice and regulations applicable to your location. We can’t stress enough how important it is to both stay up to date with changes in regulations and to regularly update your emergency procedures to align with those changes.

Quality Safety Training for Your Team

It is crucial that employees are aware of how to use fire extinguishers and other emergency equipment. This knowledge can save lives. Regular fire drills are also essential for any workplace. They give occupants the chance to learn and practise their responsibilities during a fire emergency.

Emergency Contacts

Another important aspect of fire emergency planning is keeping a list of emergency contacts. These contact numbers should be created and made accessible to all employees. This list should include the fire department, police, and medical services. It’s important to build connections with local community and emergency service organisations, as they can provide valuable support and resources in case of a fire emergency.

Documentation and Record-Keeping

Maintaining detailed records of all emergency drills, incidents, and training sessions is another critically important part of post-emergency evacuation. This documentation is useful for ongoing safety assessment and improvement. This should also include keeping logs and safety data sheets readily available. This information is critical in ensuring the safety of your employees and emergency responders.

Review, Update, and Ongoing Training

Emergency procedures must be malleable and subject to regular reviews and updates in order to reflect changes in your organisation, technology, and regulations. Training should never be viewed as a once-off. Ongoing training and safety updates are essential for keeping everyone prepared for a fire emergency. It’s so important that you schedule refresher courses to ensure that knowledge remains current.

Additional resources

Never underestimate how important it is to create and implement effective and memorable fire emergency procedures. After all, good fire emergency procedures don’t just not only protect organisations, but they can literally save lives. Need some help getting your emergency procedures in line? The team at Fire Block Plans is here to help. We’ll create a fire block plan tailored to your business.