Evacuation schemes

 UPDATE 1 February 2021: Changes to Regulations on trial evacuations and evacuation training programmes

The requirement for building owners to conduct trial evacuations or evacuation training programmes came back into force on 1 February 2021, and will remain in force provided there are no physical distancing requirements in place for the area in which the building is located. Physical distancing requirements are imposed at some COVID-19 Alert Levels and can change over time. Specific exclusions are included in the changes to accommodate those buildings which are in use as Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities.

These changes are set out in the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (COVID-19—Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures, and Evacuation Schemes Amendment Regulations (No 2) 2020. Building owners are not expected to resume trial evacuations or evacuation training programmes immediately the changes come into force. To work out when your next trial evacuation or training programme notification is due, you need to calculate a 6-month period that excludes the time from 25 March 2020 to 31 January 2021, or any longer period when physical distancing requirements remain in force for the area where your building is located. For example:

  • If you were due to conduct a trial evacuation by 10 April 2020, 17 days after the suspension began, and there are no physical distancing requirements in force for the area where your building is located, the adjusted 6-month period will end 17 days after the changes take effect which will mean 17 February 2021.

If you have any questions, please contact the Fire Information Unit on 0800 347 346 or email fireinfo@fireandemergency.nz

Please read previous COVID-19 Evacuation scheme Updates

UPDATE 22 December 2020: Changes to Regulations on trial evacuations and training programmes during the COVID-19 restrictions – Renewal of the Epidemic Preparedness (COVID-19) Notice 2020

The Epidemic Notice has been extended a third time and now remains in force until 22 March 2021. Building owners are reminded that while the notice is in force, under Alert Level 1 they can voluntarily resume trial evacuations and training programme delivery in the interests of keeping their buildings safe and report these to Fire and Emergency New Zealand accordingly.

A copy of the extension to the Epidemic Notice can be found here https://gazette.govt.nz/notice/id/2020-go5735

Building owners are legally responsible for taking fire safety precautions in their buildings. This includes implementing fire evacuation procedures to ensure people can be evacuated in the case of a fire or alarm of a fire.

Some buildings must have their evacuation scheme approved by Fire and Emergency New Zealand. When this is the case, the building’s owner must apply to us in writing through the Online Services website.

Building evacuation schemes must be submitted to Fire and Emergency New Zealand for approval prior to, but no more than 30 days prior to, occupation of a new building or of an existing building being used as a relevant building.

See also: Fire safety and evacuation procedures information sheet

Who needs their evacuation scheme approved?

Commercial, public, and industrial buildings that meet the conditions set out  in section 75 of the Fire and Emergency Act 2017 must submit their evacuation scheme for approval. You can find a comprehensive list of conditions on the Online Services website to determine if you must develop an evacuation scheme and submit it for approval.

Under the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures, and Evacuation Schemes) Regulations 2018, owners of these buildings:

  • must maintain their approved evacuation scheme by carrying out regular trial evacuations or implementing a training programme – noting that false alarms can now be treated as trail evacuations;
  • reporting the results to Fire and Emergency within 10 days of a trial evacuation;
  • must provide for people who may require assistance to safely evacuate using the buildings means of escape, or have a fully compliant place of safety inside the building if they, or any other person, are to remain inside;
  • notify Fire and Emergency of certain events, under section 35 of the Regulations, including if the owner, or building contact person is going overseas for more than 21 days.

Under the Regulations 2018, Fire and Emergency may revoke or require a variation to an approved evacuation scheme. There are penalties for not providing or maintaining evacuation schemes, and Fire and Emergency may apply to the court to close down a building that does not comply with the Regulations.