Fire & Emergency New Zealand

Evacuation schemes

Update 14 April 2022

Due to the whole country now being in the Orange setting under the COVID-19 Protection Framework (CPF), all premises with approved evacuation schemes are required to resume conducting trial evacuations or deliver training programmes as per their approved evacuation scheme. The change to the Orange setting includes removing the mandatory use of vaccine passes, occupancy limits and physical distancing requirements.

All businesses are now required to resume trial evacuations or deliver training programmes, which must occur every six months. While this requirement was suspended due to previous CPF settings, from 14 April (when the country moves to the Orange setting) businesses need to ensure these are carried out to meet their own six month requirement.

For more information read Evacuation scheme Updates.

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 trial 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.