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What does an Emergency Control Organisation (ECO) do?

2 Oct, 2023

An Emergency Control Organisation (ECO) plays an essential role in safeguarding every business and community.

To help you better understand the important work an organisation’s ECO does, we’ve put together this guide exploring their functions and significance. We shed light on the vital responsibilities they hold during emergencies, particularly for fire safety, and how important this group is to keeping people and property safe.

What is an ECO?

An Emergency Control Organisation, or ECO, is a group of individuals within an organisation or community who hold the responsibility of overseeing emergency preparedness and emergency response planning. At the heart of it, the ECO’s primary objective is to ensure the safety and well-being of all individuals in the unfortunate event of an emergency. 

What are their general roles and responsibilities?

Here are some of the key roles and responsibilities you can expect your ECO to be in charge of:

  •       Chief Warden

The most vital role within any ECO, the Chief Warden is responsible for ensuring all aspects of an emergency plan are properly prepared & implemented. The Chief Warden will liaise with all Fire Wardens & other ECO members to make sure everyone is familiar with their roles & responsibilities. The Chief Warden is responsible for notifying emergency services in the case of an emergency & is ultimately responsible for the safe evacuation of all visitors & occupants.

Chief Warden can be identified by wearing a white vest & hard hat/cap.

  •       Deputy Chief Warden

In the case that the Chief Warden is away on the day of an emergency, the Deputy Chief Warden is expected to carry out all of the Chief Warden’s responsibilities. This means that the Chief Warden must ensure that their Deputy is up to date with all emergency procedures and that there is no day when both are absent from the facility.

  •       Fire Warden

Fire Wardens or Wardens are responsible for ensuring a safe workplace. This refers to before, during & after an emergency. Working in conjunction with the Chief Warden they are responsible for things like trial evacuation drills, general house-keeping to reduce fire hazards & personnel checks/counts to ensure no one is left behind in case of emergency.

The roles of a Fire Warden may vary between facilities depending on the structure of the ECO & size/nature of the facility.

Fire Wardens can be identified by wearing a white vest & hard hat/cap.

  •       Communications Officer

The Communications Officer plays a vital role in any ECO. They are responsible for both the internal and external communication of the organisation. Internally, they must ensure that all emergency response information and equipment are up to date, keep records of all emergency situations and keep all contacts current. Externally, they are responsible for communication with emergency response personnel, authorities as well as the occupants of the building. They are also tasked with the important role of sharing messages from the Chief Warden to other members of the ECO.

Communications Officers can be identified by wearing a white vest & hard hat/cap & “Communications Officer” label on their vest.

  •       Area/Floor Wardens

Larger facilities may be divided into separate areas, each of which is designated to a particular warden. In the event of an emergency, the warden overseeing the area is responsible for the safe evacuation of visitors & occupants in that particular area/floor if required. The Chief Warden will communicate with the area/floor wardens to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Area/Floor Wardens can be identified by wearing a yellow vest & hard hat/cap.

Ultimately, each member of an ECO plays a vital role within it. They work in tandem to ensure that a facility is well-equipped in the event of an emergency.

Complying with Australian regulations

In Australia, adherence to emergency management regulations is not merely a best practice; it is a legal mandate. Statutes like the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 require business owners to create and execute emergency plans and procedures to a high standard. Failure to comply with these obligations can result in substantial penalties and, more crucially, endanger lives.

Need help creating an Emergency Control Organisation?

When managed effectively, an ECO works diligently behind the scenes, planning, training, and managing all facets of your workplace’s emergency response. Yet, it’s important to remember that establishing this organisation and ensuring each member has the correct training will take time and effort. 

If your organisation needs some help creating robust and effective emergency plans, you’re not alone – Fire Block Plans is here to help! We specialise in delivering top-tier fire safety solutions tailored to Australian business practices, so you can ensure your ECO is best prepared and performing as safely and effectively as possible.