Accessibility of emergency exits

Emergency exits are required in buildings so that occupants can quickly escape from the building at time of fire or other emergency.

Emergency exits must be available at all times. This is a requirement of Building and Work Health and Safety Legislation. The legislation generally requires that the emergency exits can be opened by escaping building occupants without a key. Generally, the locking of an emergency exit is an offence. Should building security pose problems (e.g. in a prison), it is essential that fire and building approval authorities are aware of any management system in place to deal with these issues. Documented approval of such arrangements is paramount. Discussion with the Community Safety and Resilience Department is recommended.

It is an offence to store materials in an emergency exit, these can obstruct occupants' access to a safe place and may, by nature of the materials stored, pose a fire threat.

Any signs or notices which provide advice about exits (location maps, signs on doors) must be maintained so that they are legible to the occupants of the building at all times. These need to be checked periodically for compliance and currency.

It is recommended that, in hotels, boarding houses and the like, a ‘you are here’ map be fixed to the back of each sole occupancy room door, showing the location of emergency exits and giving basic advice to the occupants of emergency and fire procedures applicable to that building.

Exit and emergency lighting

Emergency lighting and exit signs are provided where necessary so that occupants of the building can identify the location of exits in an emergency, even in the event of a power failure.

It is important that these facilities are maintained in good working order at all times. Regular checking of these systems is essential. All checks should be recorded and immediate steps taken to rectify any faults found.

Should you find any emergency exits which are locked or blocked, please contact the Community Safety and Resilience Department. Any information you provide will be in strict confidence.

The following documents are recommended further reading for guidance and information:

  • The National Construction Code Volume 1 Building Code of Australia Class 2 to Class 9 Buildings
  • Australian Standard / New Zealand Standard 2293.1 Emergency evacuation lighting for buildings System design, installation and operation
  • Australian Standard / New Zealand Standard 2293.2 Emergency evacuation lighting for buildings Inspection and maintenance
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development, Building Standards and Policy Branch Identification of Fire Exits in Retail Stores and Public Places
  • South Australian Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012

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