Previous evacuation schemes updates

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Previous evacuation schemes updates

UPDATE 18 December 2020: Changes to Regulations on trial evacuations and training programmes (Fire and Emergency New Zealand (COVID-19—Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures, and Evacuation Schemes) Amendment Regulations (No 2) 2020)

The requirement for building owners to conduct trial evacuations or evacuation training programmes will be reinstated from 1 February 2021, 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 have been included in the changes to accommodate those buildings which are in use as Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities.

The changes set out in the Amended Regulations come into force on 1 February 2021.

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.

UPDATE 1 July 2020: Changes to Regulations on trial evacuations and training programmes during the COVID-19 restrictions – Renewal of the Epidemic Preparedness (COVID-19) Notice 2020 and what Alert Level 1 enables

The Epidemic Notice which was due to expire on 25 June 2020 has been renewed and will now remain in force until 24 September 2020, unless it is further renewed or revoked in the interim. As there are currently no restrictions on gatherings under Alert Level 1, trial evacuations and training programme activities can be voluntarily resumed, even though the usual duty to do so that arises under the Regulations remains suspended while the Epidemic Notice is in force. Trial evacuations voluntarily carried out during this period will be considered ‘unscheduled evacuations’ for the purposes of regulation 29(2) of the Regulations. They will consequently count as a trial evacuation for timing purposes, so long as Fire and Emergency New Zealand is notified within 10 working days of the evacuation or training event in accordance with regulation 32 of the Regulations.

Changes to Regulations on trial evacuations and training programmes during the COVID-19 restrictions

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, modifications to the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures and Evacuation Schemes) Regulations 2018 came into effect on 22 May 2020.  The modifications were made by the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (COVID-19—Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures, and Evacuation Schemes) Amendment Regulations 2020.

The modifications mean that:

  • The requirement to conduct trial evacuations, or evacuation training programmes, while the Epidemic Preparedness (COVID-19) Notice 2020 (the Epidemic Notice) is in force is suspended, effective from 22 May 2020 until the Epidemic Notice expires or is revoked.
  • The ‘timer’ for calculating the 6-month period within which those requirements need to be satisfied has also been temporarily halted (‘the clock stopped’), effective right back to 25 March 2020 (when the Epidemic Notice came into force). The clock will remain stopped until the Epidemic Notice expires or is revoked.

Building owners who were required to undertake a trial evacuation, or evacuation training programme, between the Epidemic Notice coming into effect (25 March 2020) and the modifications coming into force (22 May 2020) will not be absolved by the suspension. These building owners will technically be in breach of their duty under the regulations.  However, given the changes brought about by the modifications, Fire and Emergency does not intend to take enforcement action against building owners who have breached their duty since the Epidemic Notice came into force, unless that is justified on the basis of risk to life or safety.

For those buildings where the date has passed, they do not skip a trial evacuation cycle nor do they become ‘overdue’; instead the period during which the Epidemic Notice is in force must be excluded from the calculation of the 6-month period since their last evacuation/training programme notification (as the case may be).

By way of example, if a trial evacuation of a building was ordinarily due to be conducted by 10 April 2020:

  • The 6-monthly interval for the conduct of the trial evacuation is considered suspended from 25 March 2020, 17 days before the 6-month period would otherwise have ended (i.e. the number of days between 25 March to 10 April).
  • To calculate the 6-monthly interval, time will start running again when the Epidemic Notice expires or is revoked.
  • The 6-month period will end 17 days after time starts running again.

This avoids the situation where all trial evacuations or evacuation training programme notifications become due immediately after the Epidemic Notice expires or is revoked.

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