Over the years as a fire auditor I, have seen the good, the bad and the truly ugly evacuation Signs & Diagrams. Truthfully the worst ones I have seen were in child care centres. People often create emergency signs & diagrams with no understanding as to the purpose of fire evacuation signs and diagrams. I even had a firefighter (also a fire trainer) say to me that he thought that having fire evacuation signs & diagrams at the door was stupid because once they got to the door they just needed to step out. This is often the attitude of many business owners and think everyone can see the doors so all they need to do is get out.
I then explained to him, what if you got to this door and it was blocked, and you could not get out. The evacuation signs & diagrams would tell you the next best alternate exit from where you currently are. He had a moment of clarity!
January 2017 Bernard Gore died in Westfield Bondi Junction while trying to find his way through a labyrinth of self-locking doors and confusing exits at Westfield shopping centre
. In the article, it mentions other people had gotten lost in this building.
Other reasons to have emergency signs & diagrams
I went on to say to him sometimes you may want to know where the fire equipment is; where the emergency cut off valve was for the gas and electricity. Or someone calls the emergency services and they can’t remember the address, they could read the address on the evacuation signs & diagrams.
The evacuation signs & diagrams can also be used by the Chief Warden to show emergency services where on the diagram someone was last seen so that they could go directly to that area and not have to sweep every room looking for a missing person.
Or what if it is a siege situation and the police could use the evacuation signs & diagrams to know the layout of the building? I asked him wouldn’t it be useful if the evacuation signs & diagrams marked where all the dangerous chemicals were in the building?
Legal requirements regarding evacuation signs & diagrams
Legislation states that businesses must have evacuation signs & diagrams and stipulates what must and what could be on the diagrams. Qld changed the Building Fire Services Regulation and buildings less than 300m2 diagrams are no longer required. However, it still stipulates in AS3745 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities that all businesses must have evacuation signs & diagrams.