Challenge – No lives should be lost from emergencies in buildings

The Strata Communities Association (SCA) South Australian branch hold an annual one day conference at the Glenelg Golf Course each year. One of the presenters was our Managing Director, Alan Short. Alan spoke passionately about the importance of Emergency Planning in ensuring that occupants of apartment and commercial buildings are able to get out safely when an emergency occurs.

His presentation was broken down into 3 parts

Lesson 1 – Which buildings need Emergency Plans?

Work Health and Safety Regulations clearly identify that all workplaces need Emergency Plans. This includes offices, warehouses, factories and shops

Residential body corporate sites are exempt from some parts of the Work Health and Safety Regulations – but does this mean they are exempt from providing Emergency Plans?

There is also a Duty of Care requirement for all building managers. This legislations asks the simple question, what is the general public’s expectation of what should occur. For an apartment building with an integrated fire alarm and evacuation system we believe that the community’s expectation is that there is an Emergency Plan in place.

The information you receive in a hotel or serviced apartments, such as evacuation diagrams and briefing notes in the room information folder shows that they have an Emergency Plan. How do these buildings differ, especially serviced apartments which might not have a reception desk, from a residential apartment building? We don’t believe that they do and that is why we think the community expects that apartment buildings with integrated fire alarms should have Emergency Plans.

We believe that the better question is what types of buildings don’t need Emergency Plans, and the answer is only houses.

Lesson 2 – What to plan for?

Many people only think about evacuating a building. But there are other responses such as shelter in place that might be more appropriate for some emergencies.

Emergencies that happen around the building as well as inside the building need to be considered, some of these include

  • Bomb threat
  • Bushfire
  • Storm damage
  • Flooding

A growing area of focus is personal threat and security. This can be from terrorist attacks or armed intruder. It can be something significant like the Lindt Café siege in Melbourne in 2014 or a domestic dispute.

For most sites its worth engaging an expert to help you quickly and concisely work through what risks your building is exposed to and how to manage these emergences.

Lesson 3 – Why train?

Did you know that 85% of people won’t behave like you expect them to. In an emergency situation people resort to instinctive behaviour of fight, flight or freeze. Studies after emergency events have found that only 15% of the people respond in a calm and ordered manner. The rest will panic, freeze, hide or ignore the emergency.

The only way to overcome this is through training, that why the emergency services undertake so much training.

How much training are the occupants of the buildings you manage undertaking?

A Line in the Sand

At the end of his presentation Alan posed the challenge, That no person should die or be seriously injured from an emergency in a building managed by SCA members. This is what the community expect. Will you accept this challenge?

Need Help?

If you need help with Emergency Planning then give Alan a call on 08 8262 9245 to talk through options.

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