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Fire safety – A timely reminder

This article originally appeared in Queensland Bowler magazine, July 2018 edition

Having recently completed our own annual fire and building evacuation training, I thought it would be a great time for a refresher on the obligations of building occupiers in the event of a fire at your club. The legislation relating to fire safety procedures for buildings highlights six points which are key in ensuring the safety of your members and guests in the event of a fire. These are summarised below:

1. Fire and evacuation framework

Building occupiers must have a fire and evacuation plan that contains the following key features:

  • Evacuation diagram;
  • Evacuation Co-ordination Procedures;
  • Instructions for evacuating the building safely in accordance with the Evacuation Co-ordination Procedures;
  • Method of operation of fire fighting equipment and manually operated fire alarms;
  • Procedures for giving, and ensuring that Fire and Evacuation Instructions are given to persons working in the building;
  • Contact details of the Evacuation Co-ordinator;
  • Contact details of person/s responsible for carrying out the Evacuation Co-ordination Procedures;
  • Contact details of those responsible for giving the Fire and Evacuation Instructions and maintaining the plan.

2. Fire Safety Advisers

If a building is deemed a "high occupancy building", which will include club premises where there are 30 or more employees and the building is classified as Class 6 premises under the Building Code of Australia, then a qualified Fire Safety Adviser must be appointed.

This person must have completed an approved fire safety course within the last three years. If the person remains appointed beyond three years, they would need to be re-accredited.

Where an occupier operates within two or more high occupancy buildings, they may appoint the same Fire Safety Adviser at each venue. Occupiers that currently trade from a high occupancy building have 12 months to appoint a Fire Safety Adviser and for new occupiers of high occupancy buildings, within 1 month of occupancy.

3. Approval documents for alternative solutions are to be obtained and kept

An occupier must take reasonable steps to obtain "relevant approval documents", which are documents in a building development application that relate to a matter contained in the Fire and Evacuation Plan. For example, where an "alternative solution" to a requirement under the Building Code of Australia has been approved under the Building Act 1975, then a statement made under the Building Act 1975 by an assessment manager to approve this requirement and any supporting document would need to be obtained and kept. "Alternative solution" conditions should be included on a certificate of classification.

4. Evacuation arrangements for a building

Evacuation Co-ordination Procedures are measures that communicate the modes of evacuation during an emergency. This includes checking that all persons have been evacuated and informing the Evacuation Co-ordinator of the number of persons evacuated.

In buildings with multiple occupants, the managing entity (eg body corporate or centre manager) must ensure the whole of the building Fire and Evacuation Plan takes into account the evacuation plans of separate tenants, and that separate tenants have plans consistent with those for common areas.

Evacuation drills must be conducted every 12 months.

5. Door-locking

There is a general prohibition on locking doors along an evacuation route, which means any doors on a path of travel from a building common area to an exit door must be openable. Electronic doors must be able to be manually opened in the event of power failure.

6. Critical defects in fire safety installations

If a person carries out maintenance of a prescribed fire safety installation and becomes aware of a critical defect rendering it inoperable and reasonably likely to have an adverse impact on safety, then the person must notify the occupier within 24 hours of the maintenance.

Prescribed fire safety installations must be inspected at intervals that comply with the relevant current standard for the installation. If corrective action is necessary, this must be undertaken no later than one month after the maintenance was performed unless there is a reasonable excuse.

If you have any queries around fire and evacuation plans, please contact a member of our team.

"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."