Emergency Management Planning

Posted by Andrew McGiffert |21 Apr 11 | 0 comments

In Australia the two states with the highest standards for emergency management plans are Queensland (QLD) and Tasmania (TAS). Whilst other states have general provisions for emergency management they are not a specific as those of QLD and TAS. This emergency management guide has been written incorporating those high standards, whilst taking into account other state requirements and best practice set forward in Australian Standards.

The information that follows is provided as a guide to help developing an effective emergency management plan that provides for national coverage, however compliance with state legislative responsibilities can not be guaranteed as every site is different. It is up to the building occupier to consult with a fire/health and safety professional to ensure suitable formulation and application of the plan.


Emergency Management Plan

The emergency management plan (also known as a ‘fire and evacuation plan’ in QLD) is used to document the organisational arrangements, systems, strategies and procedures relating to the response and management of emergencies.

Plans can be kept in hard copy, or can be stored electronically, but must be available during business hours and be safe in the event of a fire[1].

The plan should include

  • Emergency Prevention
    • Regulator and physical measures taken to ensure that emergencies are prevented. E.g. policies and procedures, maintenance and testing of appliances, good house keeping, etc.
    • Emergency Preparedness
      • May include the membership, structure and duties of the EPC, the appointment of an ECO, development and maintenance of emergency procedures.
      • Emergency Mitigation
        • Measures taken to decrease the likelihood of emergencies occurring and the associated impact on people.
        • Activities for preparing for, and prevention of emergencies, such as training, and maintenance
        • Overall control and coordination arrangements for emergency response. This should include evacuation strategies for occupants with a disability
        • The agreed roles and responsibilities of the emergency control organisation and occupants of the facility in preparation for, during and after an emergency.

Emergency Management Plan Checklist[2]


Statement of purpose and scope


Name and address of the building


Name, address, telephone number and electronic contact details of the owner and occupier of the building


Identification of the facilities to which the plan applies


Descriptions of the fire safety and emergency features of the facility


Existing emergency contact details


The organisational arrangements for the facility


Information on the structure and purpose of the EPC


The method of operation of fire fighting equipment and manual fire alarms in the building


Emergency preparedness and response procedures


Instructions for evacuating the building, including ECO, occupant and visitor evacuation actions


The procedures for giving fire and evacuation instructions to persons working in the building and ensuring the instructions are given


Details of the evacuation coordinator, this would usually be the Chief Warden/Floor Wardens


Name and contact details for persons responsible for carrying out the evacuation procedures (The ECO Team)


Extent of evacuation necessary for differing emergencies


Assembly area locations and alternative locations


Evacuation diagram


The date each of the ECO members joined the ECO group


Training arrangements


The name and contact details for persons responsible for giving fire and evacuation instructions


Statement of the extent of distribution of the emergency plan or excerpts from the emergency plan


A record of distribution, including where personal emergency evacuation plans for people with disabilities are held.


Details of the hours of occupancy of the facility


The EPC nominated validity period for the emergency plan


The date of issue or amendment date on each page of the emergency plan


Name(s) of the person who developed, changed and reviewed the fire and evacuation plan


Responsibilities and duties of the Emergency Control Organisation


Warning and communication methods

In instances where a number of persons fill a position on the ECO team across rotation shifts a person’s title rather than a person’s name will be accepted – eg. Homewares supervisor, duty manager.

The emergency plan should address the method of warning and communication to be used during an emergency. The needs of occupants and visitors with a disability should be considered when developing procedures for emergency warning. This may entail alternative means of communicating emergency information and warnings.


Emergency Response Procedure

The Emergency Planning Committee in collaboration with the building owners, managers, occupiers and employers shall determine which types of emergencies warrant specific response procedures within the emergency plan. Response procedures should address the following:

  • Responsibilities and duties of the ECO and the actions they are to take during an emergency.
  • The responsibilities of facility occupants and the actions they are to take in an emergency.
  • The arrangements for evacuating the facility.
  • The arrangements for emergency preparedness and response.
  • The current emergency contact details.

The specific needs of people who may be present outside the normal hours of

business/operation shall be considered. Communication with neighbouring facilities should also be considered in procedures.

The emergency response procedures should address the extent of evacuation from the facility for different types of emergencies. An evacuation could be a full evacuation, partial evacuation or ‘shelter in place’ with no evacuation.





Bomb threat



Medical emergency



Personal threat



Internal emergency



External emergency






Evacuation coordination procedure

Emergency evacuation procedures should be developed as a part of a risk management process, they must be specifically developed for the particular workplace and its specific hazards.

A ‘complex’ workplace, such as a multi-tenanted building, will require detailed planning together with co-ordination and communication with all tenants in the establishment of evacuation procedures.

Emergency evacuation procedures must be developed as part of broader emergency planning to deal with emergencies of all kinds.

Where a facility has lifts and escalators they should not be relied upon as a means of evacuation from fire, however may be appropriate for use in other types of emergencies.

If you are an occupier of a specified building in Tasmania, you are obligated to submit to the Chief Officer of the TFS, for approval, an Evacuation Plan (EP) for the evacuation of the building in the case of fire[3]


Practice evacuations[4]

All occupiers are required to conduct and evacuation of the facility annually. The practice evacuation must be carried out by an appropriate number of people. It may not be feasible to evacuate, for this exercise, a person with a disability, however the process must be included in the plan. Select staff such as receptionists may be excluded to answer telephone calls[5]. Records of practice evacuations must be retained and can be kept in electronic form. Details required include:

  • The date of the evacuation.
  • The times the evacuation started and ended.
  • Any action taken or required as a result of the evacuation, such as a review of the evacuation instructions.


Assembly area

A primary assembly area a sufficient distance from the emergency should be nominated and made known to all occupants. The selected assembly area should be sheltered from the affected facility and allow for further movement away from the emergency, e.g. a dead end laneway would not be appropriate. The assembly area should be accessible by a route suitable for people who walk with a difficulty or use mobility aids. The movement of large numbers of people has inherent dangers, the assembly area should not require occupants to travel along main roads. A second and possibly third assembly area should be nominated by the EPC and made known to all members of the ECO. Should the primary assembly area be inaccessible a secondary will be required. In cases of bomb threats or civil unrest a secondary assembly area should be available.


Evacuation Signs, diagrams and action guides.

Evacuation Diagrams are used to display a pictorial representation of a floor or area. The diagram provides the locations of emergency equipment and exits. The minimum size of an Evacuation Diagram should be A4 (i.e. 210mm x 297mm) the pictorial representation of the area should be no less than 200mm  x 150mm.

An evacuation sign incorporates the evacuation diagram and other relevant emergency and evacuation information. The procedure outlines the process to follow in the event of a fire or hazardous materials emergency. The minimum size of the evacuation sign should be A3 (i.e. 297mm x 420mm) the minimum size of the pictorial representation of the area should be A4 (i.e. 210mm x 297mm)

Emergency Action Guides are used to display clear and simple instructions regarding the actions to take to raise an alarm or evacuate a building. Action guides can be incorporated into the evacuation sign or displayed as a separate poster[6]

Evacuation diagram checklist:




The ‘YOU ARE HERE’ location


The designated exits in the facility, which shall be green


The route from (you are here) to the nearest exit


The following communications equipment, where installed:

–      Warden intercommunication points (WIPs) which shall be red;

–      Manual call points (MCPs) which shall be red; and

–      Emergency call points (ECPs) which shall be coloured white, or have a black border;

–      Main controls / panels for the occupant warning system


The locations of manually operated fire alarms, e.g. break glass alarms


Hose reels, which shall be red


Hydrants, which shall be red


Extinguishers, which shall be red with an additional appropriate colour as specified in AS/NZS1841.1


Fire blankets, which shall be red


Fire indicator panel (FIP) if provided


Refuges, if present


Validity date


Location of assembly point(s)


The route from each exit to the assembly area


First aid kit locations, coloured green


A legend of symbols used

Individual evacuation diagrams must have the correct orientation with regard to the direction of egress and its location to the ‘You are here’ point. An assembly area diagram should be included and must have the same orientation to the rest of the diagram.

Evacuation signs/diagrams must be located on each evacuation route of the building. They must be securely attached to a wall or the internal side of a door in a conspicuous position and should be orientated in line with the building (meaning the diagram must be understandable to a person reading the sign and the instructions must be accurate and correspond to the building layout)[7]. Sticky tape, blue tac or velco is not satisfactory, however screws or double sided tape providing sufficient strength is acceptable. The evacuation diagram should be positioned within a zone at a height not less than 1200mm and not more than 1600mm above the plane of the finished floor.


Multi Occupancy Building

In a multi-occupancy building (where there is more than one tenant, e.g. a shopping centre) the managing entity (e.g. body corporate or centre manager) is responsible for evacuating people from the common areas of the multi-occupancy building to a designated assembly area. A common area is a passageway, foyer, stairway, corridor or mall. It is the responsibility of the secondary occupier to evacuate people from their tenancy. For example in a shopping centre a retailer will evacuate shoppers to the mall area, and then the managing entity’s plan will evacuate them out of the building to the designated assembly area. It is important that both parties plans complement the other (e.g. are there joint assembly areas). (This item relates to Sections 22 and 23 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008)


Fire Safety Advisor – Only QLD High Occupancy Buildings[8]


The name of the Fire Safety Adviser


Contact details for the Fire Safety Adviser, e.g. phone number and electronic contact details


Description of the qualifications held by the Fire Safety Adviser


The registered training organisation that issued the qualification


The date the qualification was issued

Whilst it would be ideal to adopt the ‘Fire Safety Adviser’ nationally it is not currently possible as the training is only available in Queensland. It is not always necessary for the Fire Safety Adviser to be a member of staff and the role can be outsourced – contact ‘Fire and Safety Australia’ who provide a Fire Safety Advisor consultant as a contracted service.


Alternative solutions[9]

An alternative solution is that which has been assessed and agreed between parties such as fire engineers, building certifiers, etc. It allows for an alternative building solution to be put in place meeting the performance, rather than the prescriptive, requirements of the Building Code of Australia. If there is an alternative solution for the building, the alternative solution is to be included in the Fire and Evacuation Plan. For example if a building has extended travel distances, the Fire and Evacuation Plan must reference this. In South Australia extended travel distances in public spaces/retail areas can be identified by green chevron striping required by the building certifier.


Special Needs

Persons with special needs may be:

  • A person with a disability
  • A child
  • A person affected by medication or alcohol
  • A person in lawful custody
  • A person working in the building where access is restricted, e.g. a basement, false ceiling cavity.
  • A person working in a hazardous area of a building.

If persons with special needs are in the building the occupier is responsible for ensuring there is a procedure in place to evacuate them safely. An example of a procedure to evacuate persons with special needs may be to identify one or more persons who ,on activation of the alarm, are to proceed to the area where the persons with special needs are and assist them in evacuation[10].

AS3745 identifies potential occupants and visitors who may require a personal emergency evacuation plan as being persons:

  • accompanied by an assistant;
  • having a guide or companion animal;
  • using alternative forms of information and communication;
  • having an ambulatory disability;
  • using a wheeled mobility appliance;
  • who are easily fatigued;
  • who easily experience acute anxiety in an emergency;
  • who easily experience extreme confusion in an emergency.

If persons who meet the above criteria are employed at the worksite a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) should be developed.

A copy of the special needs evacuation plan and any personal emergency evacuation plans must be kept with the Fire and Evacuation Plan.



All Fire and Evacuation Plans must be reviewed annually[11]. An example of reviewing the plan may be for the Emergency Planning Committee to walk through the building to ensure that evacuation routes have not changed, warden lists are updated and personal emergency plans are relevant. The review process must be documented and should be kept with the other Fire and Evacuation Plan documents If modifications are made to the building or to the Emergency Control Organisation the plan must be altered to reflect the changes as soon as practical, but no later than one month.


General evacuation instructions

General evacuation instructions must be given to workers within two days or commencing work and then annually. These instructions must include the location of fire safety reference points ( Fire safety reference points are those detailed in item 9).and the procedures for evacuating the building safely[12]. Details of the instruction provide must be retained with the other emergency documents (and can be in electronic form) records must include:

  • The name of each person receiving the instruction.
  • The name of the person who gave the instruction.
  • The date instructions were given.
  • A description of the instructions.

First response evacuation instruction, concerning operation of manually operated fire alarms and fire fighting equipment, must be provided to workers within one month of commencing work, and be reviewed every two years. Instructions can be given through practical training or electronically (CD, DVD, Internet, etc). First response instructions must also be recorded and retained in the same way as general evacuation instructions[13].

QLD Only – If a fire safety adviser is required for the building the Fire Safety Adviser or a Registered Training Organisation must give or arrange for the first response evacuation instruction/training to be given.


Evacuation Coordinator/Chief Warden Instruction

The building occupier must appoint a person to be responsible for the coordination of the buildings evacuation in the event of a fire or other emergency, known as an Evacuation Coordinator or Chief Warden. The building occupier must give evacuation coordination instructions to the evacuation coordinator and other persons (wardens) every year and within one month of any changes to the procedures or personnel.

Evacuation coordination procedures include[14]:

  • Means of alerting and communicating with persons in the building, e.g. public address messages.
  • Alerting the fire service, by phone or manually operated fire alarms.
  • Arranging the evacuation of all persons in the building including those with special needs.
  • Checking whether all persons have been evacuated.
  • Method of alerting the evacuation coordinator as to the result of the evacuation.
  • Meeting the Fire Service on arrival at a suitable place as stated on the evacuation plan.

Records of evacuation coordination instructions must be documented and retained (can be in electronic format)[15]

Details on the instruction records must include:

  • The name of each person receiving the instruction.
  • The name of the person who gave the instruction.
  • The date instructions were given.
  • A description of the instructions.


Retention of records

A copy of plans and documents, including ‘prescribed documents’ must be kept in the building and reasonably safe from the effects of fire. A metal filing cabinet will satisfy these requirements. Records kept must include

  • A record of a review of a Fire and Evacuation Plan;
  • Fire and Evacuation Instruction Record ;
  • An Evacuation Practice Record;
  • Record of Maintenance .

The occupier must keep fire safety records and prescribed documents for at least 2 years. Documents must be produced upon request of a Fire Officer. Records required to be kept by the regulation (other than logbooks required by an Australian Standard for the maintenance of fire safety installations) may be kept electronically as long as they are available for inspection as required by the regulation[16].

In addition to keeping these records, a copy of all records must be kept in another place. These copies may be electronic. Copies of maintenance records can be retained by the fire contractor. (This item relates to Section 71 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008)

[1] This item relates to Section 26 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

[2] This item relates to Section 21 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

[3] Tasmania General Fire Regulations 2010

[4] This item relates to Section 46 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

[5] This item relates to Sections 43 and 44 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

[6] This item relates to the Fire Evacuation Plan Guidelines prescribed by the Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) Chief Officer

[7] This item relates to Sections 18, 29 and 30 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

[8] This item relates to Section 21 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

[9] This item relates to Section 24 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 

[10] This item relates to Section 19 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

[11] This item relates to Sections 27 and 28 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

[12] This item relates to Sections 32 and 35 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

[13] This item relates to Section 45 of the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

[14] This item relates to Sections 17, 38, 39 and 40 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

[15] This item relates to Section 45 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

[16] This item relates to Sections 71, 72 and 86 of the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008

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