New Evacuation Regulations Promote Fire Safety

Highlights from Todd O’Donoghue – Senior Advisor, Fire and Emergency New Zealand

From 1 July 2018, changes to the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures, and Evacuation Schemes) Regulations 2018 provide a new foundation for fire precaution measures and the safe, prompt and efficient evacuation in the case of an alarm or fire. While New Zealand has a good history of fire safety within commercial and industrial buildings and the loss of life has been minimal, a number of buildings are still affected by fire each year. The new Regulations aim to improve the level of protection building occupants have from the risk of fire.

Along with sections 75 – 79 of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 (the Act), these Regulations replace the current legislative framework.

Minimal changes have been made to those buildings defined as relevant buildings in the Act, which must have an approved evacuation scheme and comply with both Part 1 and Part 2 of the Regulations; there were also minimal changes around the types of buildings that must comply with Part 1 of the Regulations. Most buildings that are workplaces or allow public entry are covered by Part 1 of the Regulations and must follow a range of fire safety precautions to help manage the risk of fire and have an evacuation procedure in place to enable evacuation in the case of a fire.

The main changes in relation to Part 1 of the Regulations are:

  • Requirements for the colour and layout of fire action notices installed on or after 1 January 2019.

  • Clear requirements that all occupants must follow evacuation procedures.

  • In non-sprinkler protected buildings with a single means of escape, Fire and Emergency may require an owner or tenant to install hand operated fire-fighting equipment where there is a risk that a fire is more likely to affect the means of escape.

  • New offences for various breaches of the Regulations In Part 2 of the Regulations, the major changes relate to the type and amount of information required as part of the evacuation scheme application process. This will allow a more robust assessment of applications to be carried out.

  • Applications for an approved evacuation scheme must now be made prior to, but no more than 30 days prior to, occupation of a new building or of an existing building being used as a relevant building.

  • Fire and Emergency now has the power to revoke or require a variation to an approved evacuation scheme.

  • Evacuation schemes must provide for people who may require assistance to safely evacuate using the buildings means of escape, or have a fully compliant place of safety inside the building if they, or any other person, are to remain inside.

  • Un-scheduled alarm activations, such as a real event or unwanted/false alarm, are now able to be counted as a trial evacuation.

  • Allowances can be made for people who require assistance or are under supervision during a trial evacuation.

  • Building owners must notify Fire and Emergency of certain events, including if they and the nominated contact person are going to be out of the country.

Further information on Fire Evacuation Schemes for Businesses and Landlords.

If you would like further information or have questions, please contact your Safety First consultant.