Fire and evacuation
12 Ways to Make Small Businesses Safer
Employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of everyone in their workplace (especially during emergencies such as a fire). This includes employees, contractors, visitors and customers. It is important to be prepared to ensure everyone can evacuate quickly and safely.
- Place fire equipment in your workplace where it can be accessed quickly if needed (for example, fire extinguisher, hose and blanket). If you are unsure about what you need, contact your local fire authority or fire equipment supplier for advice.
- Write an emergency evacuation plan of how people should evacuate the workplace and where they should assemble if there is an emergency. Display the emergency evacuation plan diagram where everyone can see it and practice your plan with your employees at regular intervals, for example, every six months. Make sure each poster clearly indicates where you are, where the exits are and where the assembly area is.
- Ensure fire equipment suitable for risks specific to your workplace are available (for example, foam or dry powder type extinguishers for fires that involve flammable liquids).
- Install signage so people can find fire equipment quickly and identify what type of fire it can be used on. If you have battery backup for illuminated exits signs, test the battery power regularly. Make sure emergency exits are unlocked, not blocked and exit signs are illuminated.
- Ensure extinguishers are placed away from heat sources and are regularly maintained.
- Train employees in how to use fire equipment and know what type of fire extinguishers to use for different types of fires.
- Ensure fire equipment is tested by your local fire authority or fire equipment supplier to make sure it operates correctly. Contact them for advice on how frequently your equipment needs to be tested (usually every six months).
Note: If you are in a multi-tenanted building, make sure the building manager runs practice evacuations for all tenants as part of your lease arrangements.
For more information on fire and evacuation, consult your local fire authority (MFB or CFA), local council or shire. View AS1851, Maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment and AS3745-2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities.