FIRE SAFETY AND EMERGENCY EVACUATION
It is essential when working with children that all staff employed in Outside School
Hours Care programs are familiar with safety procedures and know how to react in
the case of a fire or emergency. It is important to practise evacuation drills
frequently and to incorporate fire safety awareness into your program.
Evacuation may be necessary in the event of a fire, chemical spill, bomb scare,
cyclone, gas leak, flood or other emergency. To manage an emergency requiring
evacuation you will need to develop clear procedures and practise these at least
once every school term and every school holiday.
DEVELOPING AN EVACUATION PLAN
According to the Fire and Emergency Services WA, the evacuation plan must be
All staff members should be familiar with the plan and be aware of their roles and
responsibilities. The evacuation plan should be studied during staff orientation or
induction programs. In developing an evacuation plan you should:
1. Know your building
Familiarise yourself with the design and construction of your building. Depending on
the type of building you may have:
• fire doors
• fire hose reels and fire extinguishers
• fire blankets in the kitchen
• exit signage
• emergency lighting
• fire detection systems including smoke alarms or heat sensors, sprinklers
• a range of exit points including doors and windows (not all glass panels are
windows that open).
When emergency service personnel arrive they will need to know the location of the
electrical mains, gas isolating values and where any hazardous materials such as
flammable liquids, chemicals and compressed gases are stored.
2. Select an assembly area
Carefully choose an area where all staff and children will assemble on evacuation of
the building. The assembly area should be:
• well clear of the building
• an area which children can be moved from without going back to the
• not in a small rear yard, unless there is a gate and an access route away
from the danger
• away from access routes emergency service personnel may use
• easy to access, ideally no roads should be crossed.
3. Emergency evacuation notices
An emergency evacuation notice should be displayed near the main entrance of each
room used by the children. This notice should show:
• a floor plan with exits marked and the direction of escape routes to the
• location of fire fighting equipment if required in the building
• the evacuation procedure.
Escape routes to the assembly area must be kept clear of obstructions at all
4. Evacuation procedures
The Fire and Emergency Service Authority (FESA) WA can provide information for
services on the development of a plan. It recommends services use the R.A.C.E.
* Remove Remove children from immediate danger;
* Alarm Raise the alarm by blowing a whistle;
Ring the Fire Brigade on “000” from a safe area
(a) give the name and address of your service
(b) give the nearest intersection;
On hearing the alarm staff and children walk to the assembly area;
The daily attendance book is collected by a staff member nearest its
* Contain If it is safe to do so contain the fire by closing all doors;
* Evacuate Evacuate to the assembly area and check the attendance book to
account for all children, and check all staff are present.
• Staff should only attempt to extinguish a fire after children have been evacuated
and only if it is safe to do so.
• Water extinguishers (red or stainless steel with a red band) should never be used
on electrical or flammable liquid fires, as this can cause electrocution or spread
rather than extinguish the fire. Fire extinguishers should only be used if staff have
be trained in their use. Your priority is the removal and safety of children, not fire
5. Know the correct First Aid treatment for burns
• DR ABC (Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, Circulation)
• Cool the burn - use copious amounts of cool water
• Cover the burn - wet cloths are good
• Calm the casualty and seek medical attention.
The installation of a fire detection system will help to prevent loss of life and injury
from fire. Fire detection systems vary depending on the type of building. Many large
public buildings have heat sensors or smoke alarms directly linked to Fire and
Emergency Services and an automatic sprinkler system. Small community buildings
and many residential buildings have smoke alarms that may be either wired into the
electrical mains (with battery back-up) or be battery operated.
Installing a smoke alarm
Smoke alarms are fastened to the ceiling with two small screws. You only need to be
able to operate a screwdriver to be able to install a smoke alarm. Mains powered
smoke alarms must be installed by a licensed electrician.
The Fire Protection Association of Australia states:
“For effective operation smoke alarms should be located away from corners. On a
normal flat ceiling the smoke alarm should be installed a minimum of 300mm from
any wall. If installed on a wall, the top of a smoke alarm should be located 300mm -
500 mm from the ceiling. Smoke alarms should not be installed between closely
An average sized home should have at least one smoke alarm. Smoke alarms are
sensitive and may detect smoke and moisture created by common household
activities such as burnt toast or steam from a bathroom. To reduce the likelihood of
false alarms the smoke alarm should not be located near cooking facilities and
Maintenance of smoke alarms
Smoke alarms should be tested regularly by depressing the test button with a broom
handle, at least once a month. At least once a year the smoke alarm should be
cleaned by running a vacuum cleaner nozzle over the grille.
Replacing the battery of a smoke alarm
In most models when the battery is low the detector will sound a short BEEP every
minute or so. This will remind you to replace the battery. FESA recommends
replacing the battery every year. Choosing a notable anniversary like the start of the
school year will help you remember to do this.
Selecting a smoke alarm
You should select a smoke alarm with the Australian Standards Mark. This means
the smoke alarm abides by Australian standards. Smoke alarms may be purchased
from department stores, hardware stores and electrical retailers. Further advise may
be obtained from Fire and Emergency Services Authority of WA ph 9323 9300,
outside Perth Metro Area FREECALL 1800 199 084.
TEACH FIRE SAFETY
Fire safety education is an important aspect of the health curriculum in schools.
Services caring for school age children can reinforce the following concepts/skills:
Stop, Drop and Roll
This is a technique designed to minimise burns in the event of clothing fire. Children
are taught to:
STOP - where you are, as running fans the flames
DROP - to the ground, as flames travel upwards towards the face and hair
ROLL - on the ground with hands covering the face, to shields the face from
flames and prevent gases and smoke from damaging the eyes and lungs.
Crawl low in smoke
The safest way to travel in a fire is crawling on hands and knees, keeping the head
30cm to a metre above floor level. If trapped in a smoke-filled room, get down on
hands and knees and crawl low - do not stand up. Constructing a maze to practise
crawling low is a valuable activity to teach this concept.
Use matches safely
The safe way to light a match is:
• hold the match in the middle - not too close to the head or too close to the end.
(Children frequently grasp the match too close to the flame, drop the match
when it ignites, and burn their clothing)
• strike the match away from the body
• strike the match on its side to keep it from bending
• when the match is lit, hold it level or upward, never downward so that it burns
towards the hand.
Electricity is not a hazard unless it is misused. Children should be taught to use
electricity safely. The most common hazards due to misuse are:
• overloaded circuits and power plugs
• frayed electrical cords
• incorrect installation of appliances
• using electrical appliances incorrectly
• extension cords running under carpets
• extension cords suspended by nails
• trees and shrubs rubbing against power lines.
To protect a person from electrocution through contact with faulty electrical
equipment that has become live, or contact with worn and damaged wiring and
switches, all buildings must be fitted with earth leakage circuit breakers.
WA Fire Brigades Kindergarten and Day Care Centres, Evacuation Procedures and
WA Fire Brigades General Information Supplement, Evacuation Procedures and You
WA Fire Brigade Fire Safety Curriculum for Schools
Fire Protection Association of Australia - Fire Safety Data Sheets
Oxer H. F. (2000) New Century First-Aid St John Ambulance, Perth