AUST – Emergency Plan consultants often observe a potentially dangerous situation in facilities where access to the street is routinely blocked off and not conforming to AS 3745-2010 ‘Planning for emergencies in facilities’. The most classic scenario of this problem is where there are designated exits at the rear of a building and these lead to a driveway or gate that has been padlocked shut. While occupants can leave the building, the locked gate stops them from reaching a safe assembly area.

Problems for occupants can then multiply due to:

  • Exposure to radiant heat from a fire in the building
  • Exposure to objects falling from the building
  • Not enough space for all occupants, which can lead to crush injuries
  • Preventing occupants from leaving the building or tempting occupants to re-enter the building looking for another means of escape.

These measures can also prevent the Fire Service from obtaining access to the area of the incident.

Sometimes buildings have access to streets on more than one side. Access to these streets can be via pathways or driveways that should be reachable from all designated exits. Over time, for security or other reasons, one or more pathways can be blocked off with a padlocked gate, always assuming that occupants emerging from designated exits can always go the street on their side of the gate. Emergency Plan consultants have observed that in this situation it is easier for those in charge of security to misread the discharge paths required and introduce measures that isolate certain exits. On occasion this occurs when the final gate to the street is slightly remote from the actual building, again making it easier to misjudge the impact of padlocking a gate shut.

It is a requirement of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) to have street access for occupants discharging form a designated exit. State essential safety measures legislation requires this access – and all paths of travel to exits – be regularly inspected and certified operational.  It is advisable to keep regular reviews of these measures to comply with state legislation, duty of care and the requirements of AS 3745-2010.

Building Legislation Table

Refer to our Building Legislation table for further information on the building control process.