Fire & Emergency are finding more buildings without evacuation schemes and pushing building owners to comply with rules on routine evacuation drills – are you doing what is required?
While the Building Act is focused on the physical design of structures and the life safety systems within a building, the Fire & Emergency Act deals with the activity in the building including the movement of people in emergencies, the storage of hazardous goods etc. Under this Act, all “relevant buildings” must apply for an evacuation scheme and must undertake and register a trial evacuation drill every 6 months.
Relevant buildings are those that have one or more of the following:
- The gathering together, for any purpose, of 100 or more persons (over the entire building)
- providing employment facilities for 10 or more persons (over the entire building)
- providing accommodation for more than 5 persons (other than in 3 or fewer household units)
- a place where hazardous substances are present in quantities exceeding the prescribed minimum amounts (set out in Schedule 2 of the Regulations), whatever the purpose for which the building is used
- providing early childhood facilities (other than in a household unit)
- providing nursing, medical, or geriatric care (other than in a household unit)
- Providing specialised care for people with disabilities (other than in a household unit)
- providing accommodation for persons under lawful detention (not being persons subject to home detention)
2 and 3 may be exempt if you have an automatic fire sprinkler, but check with us first.
Fire & Emergency are aiming to find relevant buildings without schemes and ensure that they comply with both raising a scheme and ensuring they keep their fire drills up to date. There are fines under the FENZ Act for non-compliance.
One of the big issues we have is that FENZ are requiring some means of communicating to everyone in the building when there is a fire. The building code doesn’t require fire alarms in many buildings which have less than 50 occupants, but many of these have more than 10 employees, placing the difficult situation of a new building fully complying with the Building Code by not having a fire alarm, having to install one to obtain an evacuation scheme. All fire alarm systems must be approved by a building consent, so it is not an option to add some call points to your burglar alarm.
FFP is the only fire contractor in the South Island who have Certified Evacuation Specialists on staff, and our team have been navigating the very difficult options around getting buildings evacuation schemes and managing the gap between the Building Act and the FENZ Act. We have managed to get alternative solutions agreed to by both FENZ and Councils to formulate a best solution for some buildings where whole complying systems were cost prohibitive.
We can discuss your options around how to create and implement an evacuation scheme if you have not registered one yet. We have all of the equipment needed for your scheme such as warden apparel, fire action notices, evacuation control points and armbands, and we have great training programmes for fire wardens, managing chemical spills and using fire extinguishers.
Our team can also complete your trial evacuations, oversee the wardens, debrief them on the procedures and complete the necessary reports to Fire & Emergency. Contact our specialists to make sure you have your evacuation requirements all lined up.