BUILDING EMERGENCY: ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Head(s) of schools, disciplines, units

All heads of department are responsible for ensuring that emergency procedures are implemented within their area of authority. This includes the nomination and supervision of appropriate emergency personnel, and the allocation of sufficient time and resources to ensure that procedures are current and active.

Chief warden

The chief warden is appointed by the heads of department whose staff occupies the building. Chief wardens have both emergency planning and emergency response duties as described below.

Emergency planning/administration duties

  • Maintain an up-to-date emergency procedure document. See template for building evacuation manual and evacuation plans.
  • Liaise with local heads of department to ensure that emergency warden positions are filled.
  • Chair and minute regular "emergency control organisation" (ECO) meetings.
  • Regularly report to local heads on building emergency management issues.
  • Debrief wardens following any event.
  • Complete an Emergency Evacuation Checklist for each evacuation and submit this to Work Health & Safety Services (WHS Services).
  • Liaise with local management, WHS Services, Security, and Campus Infrastructure Services to resolve local emergency issues.
  • Where necessary, plan an annual evacuation exercise.

Emergency response duties

When notified of an emergency the chief warden or deputy chief warden will respond in accordance with the ECO standard operating procedures. In summary, the chief warden will:

  • determine the location and the type of emergency
  • ensure that the appropriate emergency services and the University Security Service are notified
  • assess the situation and if necessary, initiate an evacuation and/or control access to the affected areas
  • where appropriate, operated the building's emergency warning system
  • accept reports from and delegate tasks to emergency wardens
  • liaise with Security and emergency services personnel on arrival at the scene, providing as much information as possible about the type and location of the emergency, and the progress of the evacuation or other initial response
  • remain available to assist Security and emergency services personnel
  • assist Security and emergency services personnel to announce when the scene of the emergency is clear for re-entry.

The deputy chief warden will assist the chief warden and fill the chief warden role in their absence.

Nomination of chief wardens
WHS Services will notify the relevant heads where there is a vacant chief warden position. A head of department can nominate an appropriate member of their staff to the position of chief warden following reference to the Chief Warden Selection Criteria and consultation with the other head(s) whose staff occupy the building. The Chief Warden Nomination Form must be completed and returned to WHS Services.

Chief warden performance bonus
University staff members who occupy the position of chief warden for a period of 12 months and meet the required chief warden performance criteria are eligible for a performance bonus in accordance with the Chief Warden Performance Bonus Policy.

Training
Chief wardens are required to attend and successfully complete the half day chief warden training course prior to commencing their emergency role. Practical training in the operation of the emergency warning systems and ongoing mentoring is provided by WHS Services.

More resources for chief wardens

Emergency wardens

A sufficient number of emergency wardens will be recruited and trained to facilitate the safe and efficient evacuation of building occupants during an emergency. During a building emergency all emergency wardens respond in accordance with the ECO standard operating procedures. In summary, the emergency wardens will:

  • assess the situation and implement emergency procedures within an assigned area of control
  • if necessary, or if in doubt, commence an evacuation of the area
  • if necessary, co-opt other staff to assist with the implementation of procedures
  • report to the chief warden
  • respond as instructed by the chief warden.

In the absence of emergency wardens, the most senior person present must assume responsibility for ensuring a safe initial response to an incident or emergency situation.

Nomination of emergency wardens

Emergency wardens are appointed by the heads of departments when there is a known vacancy or on request of the chief warden. The chief warden is required to maintain an updated list of wardens within the building emergency procedure document.

Selection criteria
Emergency wardens must be physically capable of performing their emergency duties and should:

  • have maturity of judgement, good decision making skills and the capacity to remain calm under pressure
  • have leadership qualities and command authority
  • have clear diction and be able to communicate with the majority of building occupants in their care
  • generally work on the floor of their command.

Training
All emergency wardens must attend and successfully complete the 2 hour emergency warden training. Emergency wardens are provided with additional on the job guidance by their chief warden.

Nominated first aid officers

Nominated first aid officers (NFAOs) are appointed and trained in accordance with first aid procedures. In response to an alarm, or when otherwise notified of a building emergency, the NFAOS will report to the chief warden and provide first aid as appropriate.

Persons in charge of classes

Students and visitors are often unfamiliar with emergency procedures. In the event of an emergency or alarm activation, lecturers, tutors and demonstrators are required to take the necessary action to facilitate the safe and efficient evacuation of students.

Before classes commence, all lecturers, tutors and demonstrators must be familiar with the location of emergency exits, available exit paths and evacuation assembly areas relevant to the classrooms they are using. Where necessary, the chief warden of the building should be consulted. The following is a summary of the action required when an alarm is activated:

  • advise the students that there could be an emergency in the building
  • encourage the students to remain calm
  • ask the students to pack up their personal belongings and prepare to evacuate
  • check that the available exits are clear and free of danger.
  • indicate to the students which exits they should use and where to assemble directly afterwards.
  • once the room has been cleared, proceed to the assembly area.
  • report any problems to the chief warden or the attending emergency services.

Affiliates and contractors

All affiliates, including contractors, working at University premises (or in areas occupied by University staff or students) must be inducted in the emergency procedures for the area they are working in. In most cases this induction would involved providing a copy of and explaining the relevant evacuation signage for the area.

Where a contractor takes control of a site, the responsible project manager or departmental representative must ensure that the contractor has emergency procedures in place, and that those procedures have been developed in consultation with the chief warden and are consistent with the building emergency procedures.

People with disabilities

It is not unusual for there to be employees, students or visitors with disabilities working or studying in University buildings. People with physical disabilities may have difficulty moving quickly or using stairs. People who are deaf or who have a partial hearing impairment may have difficulty in hearing emergency alarm signals and announcements. People who are blind or who have a visual impairment may have difficulty in finding and negotiating the emergency exit routes. Nevertheless, some people who do have a disability may not require assistance.

Staff and students who expect to have difficulties during an emergency or evacuation should make themselves and their usual location known to the chief warden of the building. The chief warden should then privately discuss with them the emergency procedures for the building and modify these (if necessary) to accommodate their disability.

Visual signals may be used to alert those people with impaired hearing, or an escort may be assigned to communicate emergency messages to them. Emergency egress routes must be kept clear for those with visual impairment. In the majority of cases an escort should be allocated to provide assistance and wait with the person until such time as they can be safely evacuated.

In the event of an emergency that leads to a building evacuation, people with disabilities who require assistance to evacuate should be assembled at a pre-arranged “safe place” and attended to by their escorts or at least one building warden.

Immediately following the evacuation of “able bodied” building occupants, those with disabilities who are capable of using the stairs should be assisted from the building by an escort or warden. Another warden or escort should remain with those in the “safe place” awaiting evacuation. People who are incapable of using the stairs should be evacuated under the control of the attending emergency services.