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A guide to fire evacuation procedures in aged care facilities

Jun 4, 2020

When it comes to protecting people in aged care, facilities need to undergo extensive emergency planning.

Incidents like flood, fire, earthquake, storm or even infrastructure failure can be disastrous no matter the time of the year. They also happen across all parts of Australia, no matter where an aged care facility is located – whether that’s in the country, near the ocean or in the suburbs of a city. Therefore, having the right type of evacuation procedures in place are not just important, but absolutely essential. These procedures can quite literally mean the difference between chaos or readiness, safety or injury, and even life or death.

 Your facility, your responsibility

  • There’s no national protocol for creating an emergency evacuation plan in an aged care setting, which puts the pressure on providers to undertake all the necessary emergency management precautions.
  • Federal and state-wide regulations and codes dictate what should be involved in your evacuation procedures. It’s your responsibility to create a plan aligned with your State or Territory requirements, that’s also in line with the Aged Care Act which states that all providers need to deliver quality care and services to their care recipients.
  • As an Australian business, the legal responsibility falls on the PCBU (Persons Conducting Business or Undertakings), making it your responsibility to ensure that people on the premises are carefully accounted for in an emergency.
  • You can learn more about Australia’s building fire safety requirements here.

 

What you can do to prepare 

  • Train your staff throughout the year. All staff of your facility need to be well-practised in the specific role they must undertake when evacuating residents to safety.
  • Act fast. Aged care facilities, like hospitals, must make the decision to evacuate early. That’s because relocating people who are mobility impaired can take a far longer time than other buildings, especially if the resident has cognitive or additional health-related issues.
  • Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEPs) may be required
  • Carry out regular evacuation drills. Throughout the year, aged care providers must run several practice emergency

Create evacuation diagrams 

It’s crucial ensure you have clear evacuation diagrams. In accordance with AS3745, your diagrams must display:

  • The Floor Plan and Site Plan of the facility, its Assembly Point and its Emergency Procedures
  • The nearest exits from the marked “You are here” point
  • The location of the nearest fire & safety equipment

What to do after an evacuation

It’s crucial that all residential aged care facility have alternative accommodation in place for emergency evacuations. The Department of Health is also there to assist aged care providers in finding suitable temporary accommodation facilities. Should a facility need to evacuate, the provider is required to contact each evacuated resident’s next of kin to inform them of the action, ensuring they’re aware they can come and pick their loved one up from a safety point, or allow the facility to re-accommodate them.

Further resources

 

Ready to improve your building’s fire safety practices? Fire Block Plans is here to help you and your team. Our highly-qualified experts will help find a suitable emergency evacuation plan, no matter how unique your requirements may be. Contact us today for more information.