Revised building fire and safety regulation came into force on 1 July 2009 with stricter responsibilities placed on building and body corporate management companies and commercial tenants.
As of 1 July 2009, a greater onus has been placed on Queensland businesses to comply with the new mandatory evacuation requirements under the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008.
Queensland businesses now face on-the-spot fines starting at $3,000 for non-compliance and Ben Swan, Director of EVAC - Evacuation Services Australia , believes many businesses are not even aware of their new responsibilities under the amended legislation.
“A large majority of businesses we have had dealings with are not even aware of the legislative changes and their obligations to comply with the revised evacuation procedures, despite being at risk of fines starting at $3,000,” Ben said.
“We recently undertook an audit of a major Brisbane shopping centre – of the 80 businesses surveyed only one was compliant; from the remaining 79, 18% had non-compliant diagrams and the remainder had no evacuation diagrams at all.”
“Becoming compliant is a relatively easy process which EVAC specialises in; businesses have a responsibility to ensure they are up-to-date with their evacuation plans in the case of a fire or emergency – the ramifications of non-compliance are far greater than a financial penalty, in the worst case scenario many lives can be at risk.”
Major changes under the regulation see an increasing number of parties responsible for implementing mandatory evacuation procedures than was previously the case, including tenants in commercial buildings, retail centres and accommodation unit owners.
“Businesses tenanted in commercial and retail buildings are now required by law to have their own evacuation procedures and diagrams in place; no longer can they rely on the common area plan provided by the building management,” Ben said.
“Owners of premises used for long and short term accommodation must also have a specific evacuation plan for their lodging – again, the general complex’s evacuation plan no longer is sufficient under the new laws.”
Ben provides that this is a significant change under the amended legislation and “our experience is suggesting that the majority of businesses and operators are predominately unaware of their new obligations.”
“For businesses that already have evacuation diagrams in place and assume they are compliant, they need to check the new provisions to ensure that the positions of fire extinguishers, fire reels and other vital safety equipment are indicated clearly on the diagram,” Ben said.
EVAC offers a straight-forward, one-stop solution to ensure that the relevant bodies affected by the revised legislation comply with the Regulation in a cost-effective and speedy manner.
EVAC’s experience and extensive resources enables it to produce high quality evacuation diagrams using Computed Aided Design (CAD) software technology. EVAC also offer the ability for clients to customise their design by incorporating company branding in accordance with individual requirements and preferences.
In the event that up-to-date floor plans are not readily accessible, EVAC can also conduct a survey of the business premises to mark up the drawings in preparation for the development of a compliant plan.