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Is There a Fire Safety Gap for Aged Care and Child Care Facilities?

When it comes to fire safety, research by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare highlights elderly and children under the age of six are most at risk. Both aged care and child care facilities need to be proactive in developing an Emergency Management Plan that is fit-for-purpose, reflecting their operational needs and occupancy type.

The Standard, AS 3745:2010 Planning for Emergencies – Health Care Facilities, provides a framework for emergency planning management specific for health including aged care facilities. The Standard objective is to assist in effectively planning for internal and external emergencies and to enhance the safety of occupants. It incorporates the elements for emergency prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.

Currently, only NSW has any legislation in place addressing emergency planning in child care facilities, Education and Care Services National Regulations – REG 97. In addition, since 2005 Sydney has had the City of Sydney Child Care Centres Development Control Plan, a document based on the provisions of the NSW Children’s Services Regulation 2004 which includes principles of best practice in child care centres.

All other States operate under a combination of AS 3745:2010 and (we hope) common sense when planning for emergencies in their centres, especially when they are situated on an upper floor. Stephen Burton, deputy chairman of Engineers Australia’s Society of Fire Safety, is lobbying for the National Construction Code to be amended to have the same special provisions for aged care be put in place for childcare facilities. The number of childcare centres being built in high-rise complexes is increasing. Without the necessary procedures put in place, Burton is concerned the level of risk is too great when it comes to evacuating groups of children in an emergency. First 5 Minutes supports the concept of a national standard for planning for emergencies in child care centres.

Evacuating children under the age of six in an emergency is hard under the best circumstances. Imagine having the added complexity of trying to get groups of children with different development levels downstairs while competing with adults. It’s paramount to have an emergency response plan in place that is bespoke to your facility, to maximise the fire safety of your occupants.

First 5 Minutes delivers customised training programs that are fully compliant with Australian Standards including the Standard Planning for Emergencies – Health Care Facilities and can also deliver targeted emergency control organisation training for child care locations. If you would like to discuss what solutions we have on offer, contact us today.

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