NSW – Emergency Plan advises that property managers should not rely on the report from their annual evacuation exercise under AS 3745-2010 ‘Planning for emergencies in facilities’ to ensure the paths of travel to exits are clear. This may not prove adequate to satisfy the requirements of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulation (EPAR).

The Regulations require building owners to confirm on their Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) that the building has been inspected by a properly qualified person and was found…to be in a position that did not disclose any grounds for a prosecution under Division 7 (which covers Paths of Travel).

An evacuation response exercise under AS 3745 is an indispensable safety measure that is designed to give occupants and the emergency control organisation experience in evacuating the building. But AS 3745 is not designed to observe and note the status of the all paths of travel to exits.

Reports on paths of travel within trial evacuation reports under AS 3745 generally:

  • Are a compilation of anecdotes of non-conformances from participants in the evacuation exercise,
  • And are not objective audits across defined criteria – such as distance to travel, width of pathway, trip risks, non compliant locking devices etc.
  • Are provided without the duty of care the property owner needs for signing the Annual Fire Safety Statement. The provider of the report may never have intended for it to be an assurance of safe paths of travel, just a discharge of their duty to report on problems that were observed.
  • May not have occurred within a reasonable time period from when the AFSS is dated. Any earlier than three months would not suit the requirements of EPAR.
  • May not have been completed by a properly qualified person as required by the EPAR.
  • May not cover all exit paths.