IntroductionAs dedicated fire safety advisors who specialise in childcare, we understand the importance of ensuring that childcare centres are safe from fire hazards. We are also well versed in ensuring that childcare centres comply with the Australian Standard (AS 3745-2010) for emergency management procedures. To help you navigate both fire safety and compliance, we made a list of the 7 things we’ve found are necessary for fire safety in childcare centres. Let's dive into them!
1 — Annual Safety Reviews & Audits
At Australian Compliance Management, we like to think of our Fire Safety Audits as a friendly visit from a team of experts who act as your second set of eyes that specialise in childcare fire safety. We know that the word "audit" can be scary, but we're not here to judge or scold you. Our goal is to help you identify any potential fire hazards and compliance gaps and provide you with clear, practical advice on how to fix them.
During our visit, our Guides will thoroughly review your:
- Building documentation
- Evacuation planning
- Fire safety installations
- Electrical maintenance records
- And switchboard safety switch maintenance records
We'll check for everything that regulatory authorities might look for during their inspections, but we won't just point out the problems and leave you to figure it out on your own. Instead, we'll walk you through our findings and provide you with practical recommendations on how to bring your building up to code.
Now, we know what you're thinking — “Why do I need a Fire Safety Audit? My building is probably fine." Well, we're not here to scare you, but the truth is, fire safety is no joke. A Fire Safety Audit is like a yearly check-up for your building, and just like a check-up with your doctor, it's important to catch any potential issues early, before they become big problems.
Are you due for an Assessment and Rating (AnR) or wondering if you are compliant?
Australian Compliance Management is currently offering a FREE site audit with a full compliance report! That’s right, our team of experts will come to your facility and conduct a thorough audit to ensure that you're fully compliant and in line with legislation.
This is your chance to make sure your facility is up to code and meets all necessary safety standards, without any cost to you. So, take advantage of this amazing offer and keep your employees, guests, and children safe with the help of Australian Compliance Management.
2 — Evacuation Diagrams
Evacuation diagrams are the unsung heroes of emergency prevention. They provide critical information on evacuation procedures, routes to exit the building, and the location of fire safety equipment, making them an essential tool for any emergency response plan. Let’s delve into the importance of these diagrams and provide some tips for effective reading and understanding.
To begin reading diagrams like a pro:
Start by getting a sense of the premises' layout from the site plan. This will help you identify the primary and secondary evacuation routes, which are crucial for a quick and safe evacuation. Don't forget to share this information with everyone in the building!
Next, keep an eye out for icons on the diagram, such as fire extinguishers and alarms. These icons will provide important information in case of an emergency.
Finally, be sure to take note of the assembly areas indicated on the diagram. These are designated safe areas where occupants should gather after evacuating the building. Knowing where these areas are beforehand will help you evacuate in an orderly and efficient manner.
Knowing where to place evacuation diagrams in your childcare centre is just as important as understanding how to read them. Luckily, Australian Compliance Management has got your back by providing clear guidelines on the installation and positioning of your new custom-designed evacuation diagrams.
Emergency preparedness is a top priority for any childcare centre, and carefully crafted evacuation diagrams are a must-have tool. Safety is a team effort, so let's work together to keep kids safe.
Interested in learning more? You can find a deep dive on evacuation diagrams here.
Thinking about how your diagrams look? Stay ahead of the safety curve and upgrade your evacuation diagrams in style with our team of skilled draftspersons by enquiring here.
3 — Emergency Management Plans
Emergency Management Plans (EMP’s) are a vital component of fire safety in childcare centres. They are a one-stop-shop for everything you need to prepare for emergencies. Required by both Australian Standard AS-3745 and Building Fire Safety Regulations 2008 (QLD), they are designed to help minimise the risk of fire and ensure that the children, staff, and visitors are safe in case of an emergency.
The EMP must be tailored to the specific needs of the Centre and include:
- Emergency Response Procedures—this should include procedures for raising the alarm, contacting the fire brigade, and evacuating the building.
- Evacuation Procedures—this should include details of the designated exits, evacuation routes, and assembly areas.
- Roles & Responsibilities—this should outline the responsibilities of staff, including the person in charge, evacuation coordinators, and floor wardens.
- Training & Education—this should include details of staff training and fire drills to ensure that everyone is familiar with the procedures.
Time, consideration, and expertise are but a few foundations ACM use’s to develop an in depth Emergency Management Plan for your Centre. Every Centre is different—with different needs, staff, and structure. It’s important that your EMP is tailor-made with the level of expertise and care our committed team provide.
4 — Evacuation Bags
In an emergency, preparedness is paramount. That's why evacuation bags, also known as Emergency Grab Bags or Go-bags, are a super helpful tool to make sure your little ones can be evacuated safely and quickly. Depending on the severity of the emergency you could be at your assembly area for hours, that’s why these bags should be filled with plenty of essentials like blankets, water, first aid supplies, and any necessary medications for the children at your Centre.
If you’re a client of ours, your emergency management plan will include a checklist of essential items to help you stay on top of what’s necessary.
Whilst it’s important to ensure your evacuation bags have these necessities, it’s important to remember they can’t be useful unless they are accessible! It’s easy to say they should be kept somewhere prominent, but where is that?
Most centres keep an evacuation bag at every emergency exit on a hook with clear labelling so that all staff can easily identify and access it in the event of an emergency.
These evacuation bags and their locations should also be listed on your Centre's evacuation diagrams. So, next time you're strolling through the Centre, take a closer look at those diagrams and try to spot any evacuation bags you may have missed. If you don't see them listed, don't fret! — ACM can help with having your diagrams updated ASAP, so you can rest easy knowing that your emergency evacuation bags are stocked and ready to go when you need them most.
5 — Assembly Areas
An assembly area is like a safe haven where everyone can gather in the event of an emergency. Located a safe distance from the building and clearly marked, it's where staff and children can breathe a sigh of relief and know that they're out of harm's way.
When it comes to choosing an assembly area, there are a few things to consider. A good assembly area should be:
- Far enough from the building to avoid potential external hazards like power lines, gas cylinders, and traffic.
- Spacious enough to accommodate everyone, including visitors and people with disabilities.
- Easily accessible with clear pathways leading to it, so that everyone can get there quickly and safely.
- Clearly marked with visible signage that can be seen from all exits, so there's no confusion in a stressful situation.
Some assembly areas require special practises which can involve things like crossing busy streets—at Australian Compliance Management, we can help you develop procedures to make your assembly areas even safer for staff and children. By taking the time to plan and prepare, you'll be able to create a safe space for everyone in the event of an emergency. Don't leave safety to chance—contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you with your Centre’s assembly area.
6 — Evacuation Drills
Practice makes perfect, whether you're a pro athlete or a master artist. And when it comes to emergency evacuations, rehearsing could be the difference between a smooth or chaotic evacuation. That's why at ACM, we're here to help you prepare for the unexpected with our Evacuation Drill Review.
Why are evacuation drills so important? They allow you to test your emergency procedures in a safe and controlled environment. By practicing regularly, your team will be better prepared to handle any emergency that arises. You'll also be able to identify any weaknesses in your emergency plan and make improvements to keep everyone safe.
Our team of expert guides will visit your workplace and meet with your Warden Team to discuss how the evacuation could unfold. We'll go over everyone's roles and responsibilities and answer any questions you may have about the process. During the drill, we'll observe and monitor how people react under pressure and identify any potential risks or areas for improvement.
Once the drill is over, we'll debrief with your Warden Team to identify what went well and what could be improved. We'll provide you with documented evidence of the drill for safekeeping, which can serve as a benchmark for future drills.
Our Evacuation Drill Review service is just one way we can help you stay on top of your compliance with the Australian National Construction Code and AS 3745-2010. Contact us today to schedule your Evacuation Drill Review and ensure that your team is prepared for anything that comes their way.
7 — Keys to Final Exit Gates
Do your staff members have the necessary training to unlock exit gates in an emergency? One of the most common potential safety issues we encounter is that staff members can’t unlock them, whether that’s because they don’t know where the keys are, or the exit gate and lock just aren’t accessible.
At Australian Compliance Management, we understand that a lack of training can lead to potential safety issues, which is why we take the security and accessibility of final exit gates seriously. Our experienced auditors will thoroughly check the exit gates to ensure they can be easily unlocked in an emergency.
It’s crucial that staff members know the location of the keys and can quickly unlock the gates when needed. Therefore, we recommend keeping the keys attached to your emergency evacuation bags, as this ensures they are easily accessible to authorized personnel. Regular testing of the keys and keeping the area around the exit gates clear of obstructions is also essential in ensuring a smooth and safe evacuation.
In an emergency, every second counts. Having clear exit paths and gate keys at the ready can make all the difference in ensuring a smooth and safe evacuation. So, don't wait until it's too late. Contact us today to schedule a free* fire safety audit and ensure that your building and it’s exit strategies is up to code.*No cost audit with report subject to marketed area and availability.
Resources to Keep the Kids Safe
Phew, that was a lot of information! But we hope you now have a better understanding of just how important fire safety compliance is for childcare centres. After all, nothing is more important than keeping our little ones safe and sound.
At Australian Compliance Management, we're here to help you ensure that your Centre is fully compliant with all fire safety regulations. We know that keeping up with compliance can be a challenge, but we're here to make it easy for you. Our team of compliance experts is always on hand to answer your questions and provide assistance.
So, if you ever need help with fire safety compliance, don't hesitate to reach out. We're always happy to chat and provide guidance on how to keep your Centre safe and compliant. Because when it comes to the safety of our children, there's no such thing as being too careful.
Here are some helpful resources on fire safety in childcare centres: