AUST – Our Emergency Plan assessors have been noticing a number of significant shortfalls when viewing existing evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs. On a number of occasions we have been commissioned by clients to either review existing evacuation diagrams or prepare an emergency plan with the necessary evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs. It is not just a matter of complying with the format and layout of evacuation diagrams recommended in AS 3745 – 2010 ‘Planning for emergencies in facilities’ (or the Queensland Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008), there are other considerations required to ensure evacuation diagrams perform the function they are designed for.

The presentation of evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs on walls throughout a building, in themselves may appear appropriate, however problems can arise when the provider of the evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs lacks an understanding of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) requirements, essential safety measure regulation requirements, the actual construction of the building’s elements, the requirements of local legislation and the requirements of AS 3745 – 2010 ‘Planning for emergencies in facilities’ and how all these collective provisions relate to the nomination of escape routes in the building and ultimately the correct display of information on the evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs.

Whilst most building owners and property managers are aware of their respective essential safety measures regulations, occupiers and visitors are much less aware. Hence any non-compliant (illegal building works) elements in the building relevant to the Building Code of Australia or essential safety measures regulations should be appreciated and considered by the provider of evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs.

When preparing evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs, the provider should assure themselves that it is possible for a person who follows the directions displayed on the evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs, to actually escape from the building safely. The following links describe major Building Code of Australia and essential safety measures items that affect escape routes in a building. An appreciation of each of these is necessary so that when evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs are prepared following a site visit assessment, these major items that affect an escape route are actually operational, in place, maintained, not illegally altered or permanently obstructed.

With an appreciation of these items, a provider of evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs will know:

  • It is not appropriate to nominate an escape route via a corridor to a door with an exit sign above it, if that door leads to a room that has no escape.
  • It is not appropriate to nominate an escape route via a corridor if the corridor is permanently obstructed.
  • It is not appropriate to nominate an escape route via a corridor to an exit door that leads outside to a permanently enclosed space where radiant heat will affect life in an emergency.

Building owners, property managers and occupiers of buildings should review the escape routes displayed on their evacuation diagrams/evacuation signs from the perspective of an awareness of the links above.

Building Legislation Table

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