By this article we provide information to owners of all Budget Accommodation Buildings (BABs) to develop and implement Fire Safety Management Plans (FSMP), under the fire safety legislation. The guideline is also intended to assist building owners, local government officers, fire officers, consultants and designers in understanding the features of a FSMP.

On 1 July 2002, new laws (legislation) introduced by the Queensland Government took effect to ensure the safe evacuation of occupants from BABs. The new legislation required all BABs built, approved, or for which an application was made prior to 1 January 1992, when the Building Code of Australia was introduced into Queensland, to comply with the prescribed Fire Safety Standard, (Queensland Development Code MP 2.1, previously Part 14).

The legislation required the installation of smoke alarms and emergency lighting by 30 June 2003 and compliance with the other provisions of the standard by 30 June 2005. Owners of all existing BABs, including those approved since 1 January 1992, were required to prepare and implement a FSMP by 30 June 2003.

Why is a FMSP required?

In response to the Childers Backpackers Hostel fire in June 2000, changes were introduced to the Building Act 1975, the Fire and Rescue Service Act 1990 and the Local Government Act 1993. As a result of the changes, the Fire and Rescue Service Act 1990 now requires owners of all BABs to prepare and implement a FSMP.

The implementation of a FSMP ensures that acceptable standards of fire safety in BABs are achieved and maintained.

What is a FMSP?

A FSMP is a document that contains all of the information that owners and occupiers of BABs have about the fire safety installations in their building, together with some additional important information.

These records play an important role in assisting building owners and occupiers to comply with their responsibilities and duty of care to residents and guests relative to fire safety. Occupiers are people who have a responsibility for fire safety within a building either as a delegation from the owner or in lieu of the owner. The occupier may be an owner/operator of the building, the lessee or the building manager. This guideline explains what information is contained in a FSMP and how it is to be used.

When do I have to have a FMSP?

Owners of all existing BAB’s were required to prepare and implement a FSMP by 30 June 2003. Where a BAB is leased, the lessee is the occupier of the building and is responsible for keeping the FSMP.

Where buildings require additional work to satisfy the requirements of the Fire Safety Standard, the

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) recommends that the FSMP should also show:

  • a schedule of work intended to be carried out to bring the building into compliance with the Standard
  • any additional measures taken by the owner or occupier to address fire safety in the building during the interim period.

Owners of new and existing BAB’s must submit a copy of their FSMP when lodging a Development Application to carry out building work.

Which buildings require a FMSP?

All BABs are required to have a FSMP prepared and implemented, regardless of when the building was or is to be built.

What is a ‘budget accommodation building/, as per the Building Act 1975 (s216) and Building and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2008.

(1)          ‘A budget accommodation building is a building:

(a)          whose occupants have shared access to a bathroom or sanitary facilities, other than a laundry and

(b)          that provides accommodation of a following type for six or more persons:

(i)            boarding house, backpacker or other hostel, guesthouse, share-house or similar type accommodation

(ii)           bed and breakfast, farm stay or hotel accommodation

(iii)          accommodation for persons who have an intellectual or physical disability and require full-time or part-time care.

(2)          A building is not prevented from being a budget accommodation building under subsection (1) because of:

(a)          the fact that none, or only some, of the six or more persons mentioned in subsection (1)(b) are provided with food or meals at the building or

(b)          the legal basis, or the absence of any established legal basis, on which the accommodation is provided for the persons or

(c)           the fact that all or some of the persons are provided the accommodation free of charge or

(d)          the fact that all or some of the persons have a right to occupy parts of the building other than parts used to provide the accommodation.

(3)          Despite subsections (1) and (2), each of the following is not a budget accommodation building:

(a)          a building used as a class 1a building or class 2 building

(b)          a hotel that does not provide accommodation to paying guests

(c)           a motel building in which individual beds cannot be let as a whole

(d)          a building:

(i)            in which an employer provides, under, or as an incident of, an employer-employee relationship, accommodation to persons other than backpackers or fruit-pickers, and

(ii)           in which no one is accommodated other than:

(A)          a person provided accommodation as mentioned in subparagraph (i), or

(B)          the employer, or

(C)          the employer’s spouse or other relatives

(e)          a building that is, or forms part of:

(i)            a corrective services facility under the Corrective Services Act 2006, or

(ii)           a detention center under the Juvenile Justice Act 1992

(f)           a facility in which residential care under the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cwlth) is provided by an approved provider under that Act

(g)          a building:

(i)            that is, or is located within or is part of, an educational institution, or

(ii)           in which an educational institution provides accommodation only for its students

(h)          a class 9a building, other than a building the primary use of which is to provide accommodation (rather than medical supervision) to persons with an intellectual or physical disability

(i)            a building used as a women’s refuge or shelter that is not used for any other type of accommodation

(j)           a building in which the only accommodation provided is to lifesavers

(k)          a building in which the only accommodation provided is recreational accommodation for camps for school groups, girl guides, scouts or similar groups’.

Preparing a FMSP

A FSMP may be kept in a loose-leaf folder, or a ring binder, or any other format. The plan must contain specific information about the building and should be divided into the following sections:

  1. premises information
  2. number of occupants
  3. fire safety installations
  4. maintenance schedules and records of maintenance
  5. evacuation plans and training
  6. building plans.
  7. Premises information

This is a summary section of the FSMP, which provides general information about the premises, such as:

  • building name (if applicable)
  • building address
  • owner/occupier name, address and contact details.
  1. Number of occupants

The number of persons permitted to be accommodated in the building is calculated according to the method provided in A3 of the Queensland Development Code (QDC), MP 2.1—Fire safety in budget accommodation buildings. Solution A3 requires a minimum of 2.5m2 for each person in a bedroom.

Included in that space, a 900 mm clear path of travel to the exit of the bedroom must be maintained at all times.

  1. Fire safety installations

The fire safety installations required in each BAB will vary, depending on the size and complexity of the building as well as the owner’s decision on whether to use the acceptable solutions in MP 2.1 or an alternative solution.

Where an alternative solution is used, details of the solution approved by the local council including specified conditions of approval must be kept in the FSMP.

Regardless of size, all buildings are required to have a minimum of a hardwired smoke alarm system and an emergency lighting system.

  1. Maintenance schedules and records of maintenance

This section of the FSMP sets out the required maintenance schedule for each of the fire safety installations in the building.

For each of the fire safety installations in the building, you must keep a separate maintenance schedule and record of all testing and maintenance procedures carried out on the installation. A receipt/tax invoice from a contractor does not constitute a record of maintenance.

However, some contractors provide building owners/occupiers with a printed record of maintenance performed or they complete a logbook showing details of maintenance carried out. These are acceptable records of maintenance and must be kept and produced on demand.

For more information about maintenance schedules, refer to the guideline on Inspection and maintenance options.

  1. Fire and Evacuation plans and training

This section will assist owner/occupiers of BABs to develop a fire and evacuation plan in accordance with the Fire and Rescue Service Act 1990.

Fire and evacuation plans and training consist of:

  • a set of procedures for residents and staff of the building (if any are employed) to follow in the event of a fire
  • evacuation signs that must be displayed prominently throughout the building
  • instructions to residents about evacuation procedures and actions they are to take in the event of fire threatening the building
  • a full evacuation exercise carried out as required by the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 at least annually.

The information provided in this section is suitable for BABs with floor areas of up to 500m2. Owners may prepare their own fire evacuation plan and signs or alternatively, owners may engage a licensed fire protection company to prepare evacuation plans for their building.

Large buildings with a floor area greater than 500m2 also require fire and evacuation plans similar to that outlined in this section. Some owners of large buildings may be able to use this guideline to develop a fire and evacuation plan for their building, however large buildings are usually more complex in design and require more detailed evacuation procedures.

It is recommended that owners of large buildings engage a fire protection professional to assist with the development and implementation of a fire and evacuation plan. Fire protection professionals may be found in the yellow pages under Fire protection equipment and consultants.

A copy of the fire and evacuation plan must be placed within the FSMP for the building in accordance with the Fire and Rescue Service Act 1990.

Preparing fire and evacuation procedures

The following procedures are designed for BABs. Some building owners may need to carryout building work to comply with the fire safety standard. Where building work is carried out, or changes are made to any fire safety feature of the building after the fire and evacuation plan is prepared, the owner/occupiers must amend the fire and evacuation plan to reflect the changes to the building or its fire safety features.

For the purpose of this section, BABs should be viewed in two categories:

  1. Buildings <500m2 with no on-site staff employed. Developing a written fire and evacuation procedure

All buildings are different, and before developing a procedure, the owner should survey the building and record the following details:

  • number and disabilities (if any) of occupants
  • the number and location of exits
  • the paths of travel to each exit
  • the location and type of first-aid firefighting equipment e.g. extinguishers and hose-reels
  • the location of the fire alarm panel and manual call points (if installed)
  • an acceptable location outside the building for an assembly point.

On gathering the above information, the owner will need to draw a clear and legible plan of the building indicating the room numbers, and show the location of the fire alarm panel and manual call points (if installed), firefighting equipment, exits, paths of travel to those exits (including stairs) and the assembly point.

A written procedure then needs to be developed detailing the action to be taken by residents on hearing an alarm, or in the event of fire threatening the building. The main objective of the procedure is to evacuate residents to a place of safety.

An example procedure is as follows:

  1. If you see SMOKE, FLAMES or hear the FIRE ALARM, alert other residents and report it immediately to the main office.
  2. Activate the alarm by pressing the manual call point (MCP), if installed.
  3. If safe, close any windows and doors to confine the fire.
  4. Follow the EXIT signs to locate and leave through the nearest emergency exit and proceed to the assembly point.
  5. TELEPHONE 000 and notify the fire service (NB: some mobile phones may not access the 000 number, check with your mobile service provider for the emergency number well before you need it).
  6. If unable to safely evacuate, stay in your room and signal your presence at a window.
  7. Calmly follow instructions given by the attending Fire Officers.

NOTE—Extinguishing the fire should only be attempted after all persons have been safely evacuated and then, only if it is safe to do so.

Fire and evacuation sign

An evacuation sign should be posted in conspicuous locations in common areas of the building, and behind each bedroom door. By doing this, residents will regularly view the sign and therefore become familiar with the location of exit paths and exit doors required to be used in an evacuation.

Record of fire and evacuation training for residents

The owner/occupier of a BAB must ensure that residents are instructed about evacuation procedures and made aware of actions they are to take in the event of a fire threatening the building. An ideal time to provide this instruction is at the time that a new resident first moves into the building.

A full evacuation exercise must be carried out as required by the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 at least annually. This is an ideal time to repeat the instructions on the evacuation procedures to the residents. Further instructions to residents may also be required at the time that any changes are made to the building or any of its fire safety features. It is the responsibility of the owner/occupier to ensure a record of instructions provided to the residents is kept.

  1. Buildings <500m2 with on-site staff employed e.g. managers, carers, cleaners, maintenance personnel and others that are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the building and/or care for the building residents.

In the event of fire occurring in the building, staff should perform certain duties to ensure the safety of all occupants, as well as themselves. Depending on the number of staff employed and their roles, the duties performed may vary from person to person and from one building to another.

In a small to medium sized BAB, (typically with a floor area less than 500m2), it would be likely that staffing numbers would be low, with perhaps a manager or carer and a cleaner/maintenance person in attendance.

The evacuation procedures should be designed with consideration for the role of staff assisting residents in an emergency, as well as reflecting appropriate action for building residents to take if staff are absent from the building or for some reason, are unable to help them.

In buildings accommodating disabled residents, special consideration must be made for the needs of those residents during emergencies. It is recommended that owners/occupiers seek professional help to prepare their fire and evacuation plan, as the procedures for evacuation will be totally dependent on the number of careers and residents in each building.

The following procedures outline the duties of staff members and residents. These duties would have to be modified to suit an individual building. Written evacuation procedures must be stored in the FSMP folder.

Duties of the responsible person (manager, carer or similar positions)

The responsible person should assume the duties normally undertaken by a chief fire warden in larger buildings. While it is assumed that it would be the responsible person performing these duties, there must be someone in a position of responsibility to ensure the efficient application of the evacuation procedures. The responsible person is generally the agent of the building owner, who is responsible for the safety of all building occupants.

General fire safety duties of the responsible person (prior to any fire occurring) are as follows:

  1. A) All corridors, pathways and walkways remain clear of obstructions (regular inspections will ensure the ongoing maintenance of clear exit paths).
  2. B) Exit doors remain clear and unlocked from the inside when the building is occupied to ensure efficient exit of residents in an evacuation.
  3. C) A practice of the evacuation procedures must be carried out at least annually to ensure that they are functional and efficient. Any problems that arise from a practice evacuation should be resolved immediately. All participants in the practice evacuation should be consulted to determine if they saw any problems with the practice evacuation.
  4. D) All occupants, upon taking up residence in the building, and at least annually while in residence, are to be instructed on the evacuation procedure, namely:
  • the steps to follow if evacuation is required
  • the location of exit paths
  • the location of exit doors, and
  • the location of firefighting equipment.

Adequate instruction would be to physically show residents the locations of exit paths, exits and firefighting equipment.

It is advisable to also provide instructions on:

  • safe areas away from the building in which to assemble following evacuation,
  • the location of fire alarms and the sounds they make when warning of a fire.
  1. E) Maintain an up-to-date list of the residents in the building.
  2. F) Nominate a person to assume the emergency duties of the manager in their absence (maintenance officer, cleaner or assistant manager).
  3. G) Arrange and coordinate practice evacuation exercises.
  4. H) Accurately record details of practice evacuations. Conduct a debrief with everyone involved in the evacuation exercise and adjust the evacuation plan to address problems encountered during the evacuation exercise.

On becoming aware of a possible fire

On hearing the fire alarm, spotting a fire, or being informed by other people of a fire, the responsible person will immediately:

  • investigate the fire situation
  • reassure any residents that the alarm is being investigated.

If fire exists

If a fire has been found, the responsible should:

  • ensure evacuation of the building and alert all occupants without placing themselves in danger or further compromising life
  • ensure QFRS has been notified
  • account for all occupants at the assembly area
  • if any people are missing, conduct a search, without placing themselves in danger or compromising life (missing people may not necessarily still be inside the building but could just not be at the safe outside assembly area)
  • attempt to extinguish the fire if trained and if it is safe to do so.

NB: If the fire is small enough, use a nearby fire extinguisher or hose reel to control and extinguish the fire. Try and tell someone where you are and what you doing. Do not fight the fire if the following conditions exist:

  • you don’t know what’s burning
  • the fire is spreading rapidly
  • you don’t have the proper equipment
  • you can’t do so with your back to an exit (always have an escape route)
  • the fire might block your means of escape
  • you might inhale toxic smoke
  • your instincts tell you not to do so.

If the first attempts to put out the fire do not succeed, evacuate the building immediately.

It is recommended that the responsible person undertake accredited training in the use of firefighting equipment to ensure the safety of building occupants. Nationally accredited training providers can be located in the local yellow pages’ phone book.

  • Meet QFRS on arrival and inform them of the situation. QFRS will need to know the room locations of any missing persons and the best access to those rooms.

If no fire exists

If no fire is found, the responsible person should:

  • inform residents of the situation
  • contact QFRS to advise them of the situation (QFRS will still attend)
  • meet QFRS on arrival and inform them of the situation.

Role of other staff

The maintenance officer will assist the responsible person during all emergency procedures and assume the responsible person’s emergency duties in the responsible person’s absence.

The responsible person and maintenance officer should never be simultaneously absent from the building. If the situation arises where both are absent at the same time, then the emergency duties should be transferred to another responsible and preferably trained person who will be present in the building (this may be a responsible resident).

Residents

Upon hearing the fire alarm sounding, all residents, unless notified otherwise by the responsible person, should evacuate to the safety of the outside assembly area. If possible, and if not hindering the evacuation of other residents, they should attempt to close (never lock) doors and windows behind them, only if it is safe to do so. If unable to safely evacuate stay in your room, and signal your presence at a window.

All residents should remain in the outside assembly area until the situation is assessed and all of the buildings occupants are accounted for. No one is to re-enter the building until advised by the responsible person or QFRS.

Fire and evacuation sign

A fire and evacuation sign, detailing evacuation instructions must be posted in conspicuous locations in common areas of the building and should be placed behind each bedroom door. The sign should be similar to the one shown in Example 5. By doing this, residents will regularly view the sign and become familiar with the location of exit paths and doors required to be used in an evacuation. Residents and staff should be familiar with the location of exit paths and doors prior to any emergency incident occurring.

Record of fire and evacuation training for staff and residents

It is a requirement under the Queensland Fire and Rescue Act 1990 to practice and record details of your building’s evacuation exercise at least annually. Instruction should be provided to staff working in the building and to non-itinerant occupants of the building. A non-itinerant occupant is a person who uses the building as their residence and who is not travelling from place to place.

Some occupants may refuse to participate in an evacuation exercise. If a resident refuses to participate in an evacuation exercise or refuses to listen to evacuation instructions, the person conducting the evacuation exercise or giving evacuation instructions should make a record of that occupant’s refusal to participate. Details of fire and evacuation instruction provided must be recorded.

  1. Building plans

The FSMP must include a clear and legible drawing of the building showing the location of all prescribed fire safety installations. This plan is separate to the requirement for fire evacuation signs within the building.

For buildings, such as a one storey building (similar to the one depicted in the fire evacuation sign shown in Example 4), an additional copy of the building plan used in the sign showing all the fire safety installations in the building would satisfy this requirement.

For more complex structures, separate plans for each floor will be required showing the location of alarms, emergency lighting, extinguishers, hose reels, hydrants, air handling systems and sprinklers systems, etc. The plan would also show the location of control panels and details of the interconnection of these systems.

These plans need not be architectural plans, but should contain sufficient detail to identify each fire safety installation and must be drawn in permanent ink.

When and by whom is a FSMP inspected?

The FSMP for a building must be available for inspection by:

  • a QFRS officer carrying out a fire safety inspection of the premises
  • a local government officer carrying out an inspection of the premises under an approved inspection program, after at least 14 days notice published in a local newspaper
  • a member of the public upon request, during the normal opening hours of the premises.

The Local Government Act 1993 enables local government officers to inspect records that owners of BAB’s will have to keep under the Building Act 1975. The Local Government Act 1993 also allows the officers powers of entry under an approved inspection program to monitor compliance with MP 2.1, the FSMP, and the requirements of the Building Act 1975.

For further information about local government inspection programs or QFRS fire safety inspections, refer to the guidelines Enforcement, appeals, extensions of time or Fire safety audit guideline.

What must I do to maintain a FSMP?

An owner of a BAB must ensure that the FSMP for the building is kept up to date. This includes carrying out and recording all scheduled maintenance of fire safety installations, and recording details of maintenance work performed (i.e. date, name of maintenance person and company, and what work they did).

If for any reason the owner/occupier changes the structure or fire safety circumstances of the building, they must ensure that the FSMP is updated as soon as practicable, but not later than one month after the changes occur. This may include:

  • updating the fire evacuation plan and signs if changes are made to exits or exit paths
  • updating the list of fire safety installations and the schedule of maintenance if smoke alarms, emergency lighting or extinguishers are replaced
  • updating building plans if building work or alterations are carried out on the building.

The owner/occupier must then ensure that the updated plan is implemented.

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