Lawyers… non-compliant with fire regulations?

Over the years I have not audited one lawyer’s office that was fire compliant! 

According to Ben Warren, a Brisbane Lawyer ‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse’ and few occupants in CBD buildings – including lawyers – would be aware that “occupier” obligations under the fire safety regulations extend beyond mere participation in the building owner’s compliance regime.  The “occupier” (each tenant) often has distinct statutory obligations, including the need for a specific evacuation plan, diagrams, staff training, etc.. 

Most lawyers would not know what to do in an emergency. The legal practice often decides that to have the lawyers participate in a two-hour fire training course is not productive. Can you imagine… the lost revenue on a practice of 10 lawyers whose charge our rate is over $300 per hour… would lose them over $6000.

The lawyers often appoint their secretary to act as Chief Warden… from experience, they usually fail to participate in the fire drills, and it is hard for the secretary to enforce participation. If a real emergency occurs… they would not know what they are supposed to be doing.

Remember, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse…” Legal practitioners need to understand that they MUST as a minimum, by law do the following:

·        Conduct and document a Hazard & Risk Assessment of their practice

·        Install Evacuation Signs and Diagrams

·        Have a separate Emergency Evacuation Response Plan (separate to their other procedures)

·        Have ALL staff, including doctors complete, General Evacuation Training every year

·        Have ALL staff, including doctors complete First Response Training every two years

·        Have the wardens (usually practices managers or nurses) do training every year if in QLD and in the other states every six months.

·        Conduct a Practice Fire Drill for all shifts on an annual basis

What legislation did you ask? Qld Fire & Rescue Services Act 1990 and AS3745 Managing Emergencies in Facilities.

In interviews with 271 survivors of 911, researchers in 2008 found that only about 8.6% had fled as soon as the alarm was raised while about 91.4% stayed behind to wait for more information or carrying out at least one additional task (collecting belongings/calling a family member). The interviews also showed that 82% of those who were evacuating stopped at least once during their way down, due to congestion on the stairs, take a rest, or due to environmental conditions (smoke/debris/fire/water).

Do we have to wait for a major disaster in Australian high rise offices before people take fire compliance seriously?

Time to act now! Find out if your business is fire compliant! Book a Virtual Fire Safety Audit today!

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