Our 3-Step Escape Plan

  • First Escape Route
  • Second Escape Route
  • Meeting Place
Notes

Use this space to note any additional information about your escape plan, i.e. who will assist

Your checklist
  • Get low

    Smoke is poisonous and more deadly than flames.

    If you breathe smoke for more than a few breaths it can kill you.

  • Be fast

    A house fire can kill you in less than three minutes.

    Don't spend time trying to save possessions.

  • Close doors

    A closed door buys you time.

    It slows down the spread of fire, giving you more time to get to safety.

  • Get out - stay out!

    People have died by going back into a fire.

    Don't leave the meeting place to go back inside for any reason.

Legislation changes

Has anything changed with evacuation schemes because of the establishment of Fire and Emergency New Zealand on 1 July 2017?

Requirements for evacuation procedures, evacuation schemes, and other fire safety measures continue to apply to certain kinds of building. However, there are some changes because of the:

Some of the key changes are:

  • All buildings listed in schedule 2 of the Regulations must have an evacuation procedure; this includes ‘relevant buildings’, which must also have an evacuation scheme.
  • To enable Fire and Emergency to properly assess your evacuation scheme application, we now require additional information to be supplied. Some of this information was optional in the earlier form.
  • An evacuation scheme must now be applied for before a new building is first lawfully occupied, or an existing building is used as a relevant building, (but no longer than 30 days before).
  • Building owners must notify Fire and Emergency of additional specified changes affecting a current approved scheme, e.g. the sprinkler system is not working for a period of time, there are changes to the places of safety specified in the scheme, or there is a change to the purpose of activities of the building.
  • Fire and Emergency may now revoke, or require the variation of, an approved evacuation scheme.
  • It is no longer necessary to provide Fire and Emergency with 10 working days’ notice prior to a trial evacuation.
  • Successful unscheduled evacuations, including false alarms, may be counted as trial evacuations if reported to Fire and Emergency within 10 working days.
  • Additional relevant information must be supplied when you notify Fire and Emergency of the result of a trial evacuation.
  • Fire and Emergency may require a building owner to carry out a trial evacuation.
  • The Act introduces new offences and penalties for failing to have an evacuation scheme or for failing to maintain a means of escape from fire.  

For more details, see the Act(external link) and the Regulations(external link).

Evacuation procedure and evacuation scheme basics

What is an evacuation procedure?

An evacuation procedure describes how occupants will escape to a place of safety if there is a fire, or an alarm of fire. Most buildings used by the public must have an evacuation scheme procedure in place. If a building is a relevant building (see ‘Does my building need an approved evacuation scheme?’ below), then the building owner must also provide and maintain an approved evacuation scheme.

Evacuation procedures for buildings that are not relevant buildings under section 75 of the Act don’t need Fire and Emergency approval. The requirements for evacuation procedures are set out in part 1 of the Regulations.
For more information on these requirements see Owner responsibilities.

What is an evacuation scheme?

An evacuation scheme is a plan that provides for the safety of a building’s occupants if there is a fire, or an alarm of fire. An evacuation scheme is assessed and approved by Fire and Emergency.

An evacuation scheme needs to include: 

  • the building’s evacuation procedure
  • copies of fire action signs and notices
  • description of the building’s firefighting equipment (if applicable)
  • details of the places of safety, where they are located, and how they are reached
  • description of the building’s automatic sprinkler systems (if applicable)
  • description of the building’s fire alarm/means of warning occupants of a fire description of the building’s provision for people requiring assistance
  • a plan for the regular maintenance of the evacuation scheme by either trial evacuations or training.
What is a voluntary scheme?

Voluntary evacuation scheme approved by the National Commander under section 21H of the (now repealed) Fire Service Act 1975.

The current legislation governing evacuation schemes does not provide for voluntary evacuation schemes, and therefore the voluntary scheme that was in place for your building is no longer applicable.  Only “relevant buildings” are required to have and maintain an evacuation scheme under the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 (the Act) and the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures, and Evacuation Schemes) Regulations 2018.

What you need to do:

Check whether your building is required to have an approved evacuation scheme An evacuation scheme is a plan that provides for the safety of a building’s occupants if there is a fire, or an alarm of fire. An evacuation scheme is assessed and approved by Fire and Emergency.
An evacuation scheme needs to include:
• the building’s evacuation procedure
• copies of fire action signs and notices
• description of the building’s firefighting equipment (if applicable)
• details of the places of safety, where they are located, and how they are reached
• description of the building’s automatic sprinkler systems (if applicable)
• description of the building’s fire alarm/means of warning occupants of a fire
• description of the building’s provision for people requiring particular assistance
• a plan for the regular maintenance of the evacuation scheme by either trial evacuations or training
:

  1. Check whether your building is a “ relevant building A building that requires an evacuation scheme is called a ‘relevant building’. These include the following:
    1. Buildings where 100 or more people can gather together.
    2. Buildings where 10 or more people work.
    3. Buildings where six or more people sleep, unless there are three or fewer households.
    4. Buildings storing certain levels of hazardous substances.
    5. Buildings used for early childhood, medical, and disabled care services, unless the building is a normal home.
    6. Prisons and holding cells.

    For a complete list and full details of buildings that are ‘relevant buildings’ refer to section 75 of the Act.
    ” under section 75 of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 (external link).
    1. If your building is not a relevant building, it does not require an evacuation scheme and you do not need to have an evacuation scheme approved by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
    2. If your building is a relevant building, you will need to apply for an evacuation scheme and maintain the scheme.

 

Check you have provided occupants of your building with an evacuation procedure An evacuation procedure describes how occupants will escape to a place of safety if there is a fire, or an alarm of fire.

Most buildings used by the public must have an evacuation procedure in place. If a building is a relevant building then the building owner must also provide and maintain an approved evacuation scheme.

Evacuation procedures for buildings that are not relevant buildings under section 75 of the Act don’t need Fire and Emergency approval. The requirements for evacuation procedures are set out in part 1 of the Regulations.

  1. Check whether Part 1 of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures, and Evacuation Schemes) Regulations 2018 (external link)applies to your building. Essentially, if the public have access to any part of your building you will be required to comply with Part 1.  Part 1 obligations are measures that you – as the building owner - must have in place to ensure those people occupying your building are able to evacuate safely, promptly, and efficiently in the event of fire and that fire hazards are managed effectively.
Why does my building need an evacuation procedure or scheme?

Evacuation procedures and schemes help reduce the risk of harm to people in the case of a fire by ensuring they are notified and can evacuate safely and promptly to a place of safety.

Does my building need an approved evacuation scheme?

A building owner must ensure their building complies with the Act and the Regulations. A building that requires an evacuation scheme is called a ‘relevant building’. These include the following:

  • Buildings where 100 or more people can gather together
  • Buildings where 10 or more people work
  • Buildings where six or more people sleep, unless there are three or fewer households
  • Buildings storing certain levels of hazardous substances
  • Buildings used for early childhood, medical, and disabled care services, unless the building is a normal home
  • Prisons and holding cells

For a complete list and full details of buildings that are ‘relevant buildings’ refer to section 75 of the Act.

An owner of a relevant building is not required to provide or maintain an evacuation scheme, if:

  • the building is used for either, or both, of the following purposes:
    • providing employment facilities for 10 or more people
    • providing accommodation for 6 or more people (other than in 3 or fewer households): and
  • that building has an automatic sprinkler system that complies with one of these required standards, either: NZS 4515:2003, NZS 4541:2007, NZS 4515:2009, NZS 4541:2013 or NZS 4515:2020 with the required firefighting equipment and
  • the owner completes the Notification that an evacuation scheme is not required form to let Fire and Emergency know this.

These buildings must still have an evacuation procedure in place and must comply with Part 1 of the Regulations.

Do I need an evacuation scheme for one-off events?

Yes, if the venue (including temporary structures such as a marquee) meets the requirements of a relevant building under section 75 of the Act.

How can I check if my building has an approved evacuation scheme and that it has been maintained?

You can contact the Regulatory Compliance Group either by: email rcg@fireandemergency.nz  or phone 0800 734 2667.

I have an existing approved evacuation scheme. What do I do now? Or does my existing approved evacuation scheme continue to be relevant?

If your scheme was approved under the 2006 Regulations, it is automatically considered as being approved under the 2018 Regulations. However, it must be maintained in accordance with the new regulations.

Evacuation scheme requirements

Do I need firefighting equipment installed as part of my evacuation scheme?

You will need to install fire-fighting equipment if

  • Your sprinkler system complies with the NZS 4541:2020 standard. This standard it needs to be complimented by hand-operated fire-fighting equipment that complies with NZS 4503:2005 – Hand operated fire-fighting equipment if it isn’t already installed or
  • If Fire and Emergency advise there is a requirement to install fire-fighting equipment in a particular location in the building.

Otherwise, the installation of fire-fighting equipment isn’t a requirement; however, it is strongly recommended by Fire and Emergency.

Do I need to install a fire alarm system as part of my evacuation scheme?

Not necessarily. The Regulations don’t require fire safety systems beyond those specified in the building legislation in place at the time the building was built. However, you must have an appropriate means to warn people in the building of a fire and in some cases the installation of an alarm system may be the best option.

Do I need to have fire wardens?

No, but the person in charge of the evacuation has to be in a position to know if all occupants have been evacuated from the building or the location of anyone remaining inside, e.g. people in places of safety inside the building (if any). Having wardens may assist with this. If your approved evacuation scheme includes wardens, the wardens must be appropriately trained.

Applying for an evacuation scheme

Who can apply for an evacuation scheme?

The building owner can either apply themselves or nominate another person (a contact person) to complete the application on their behalf.

When does an application need to be submitted by?

An application must be submitted within the 30 working day period before: a new building is first lawfully occupied; or an existing building becomes a relevant building under section 75(external link) of the Act.

How do I apply?

The easiest way is to apply online.

Applying online has several advantages and makes your scheme easier to maintain and monitor on an ongoing basis. You will need to log on using RealMe before you can apply online. Go to the RealMe website(external link) to find out more.

Alternatively, you can complete a form and either email or post it to Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

For a form to be sent to you for completion please contact the Regulatory Compliance Group on 0800 734 2667

What help is available to complete my application?

There are a range of quick reference guides and example application documents to help you get started. You are welcome to use our example documents as the basis for your own application. However, please ensure that all details are updated to correctly reflect your own building.

There are also independent evacuation consultants nationwide who can be hired to develop and implement your evacuation scheme. Fire and Emergency recommend evacuation consultants who are certified by the Fire Protection Association of New Zealand (FPA New Zealand); a directory of certified evacuation consultants is available from their website(external link).

 

What is the best way to submit multiple applications for similar buildings?

If you need approved ​evacuation schemes for similar buildings (e.g. a chain of retail stores, or multiple buildings on one site) here are a few tips that may help to make it easier. 

  • You can create an application template and then submit multiple applications based on that template, only changing the necessary key details (e.g. the building name and address) for each application. Please see our working with application templates [PDF, 752 KB] guide for full details. 
  • It is usually recommended to get your first application approved before submitting your remaining applications. This will save time if there are any issues from your first application that need to be corrected - you can then ensure your remaining applications have those same corrections included.

It may be best to phone the Regulatory Compliance Group on 0800 347 346 to confirm how your applications will be structured before submitting any applications. For example, it may be that you can combine two or more buildings into one application, or that not all of your buildings are required to have an approved evacuation scheme. 

How long does it take to get approval?

Fire and Emergency have 20 working days from receiving the application to make a decision on it. The decision may not necessarily be to approve the application. 

We may contact you if any minor details need to be clarified first. If further information is required, or if a trial evacuation of the building is to be carried out and observed by Fire and Emergency, the period we have to make a decision may be extended once by up to 10 working days to allow this. 

If the application isn’t approved, we will notify you in writing. You will need to amend your proposed scheme and reapply for approval within 20 working days after you receive our notice. Once you have amended and resubmitted your application, we have 20 working days from receiving the resubmission to make a decision. 

Can I request that my application is processed faster?

Yes, however, this can never be guaranteed as there are a number of factors that could affect the processing and decision times for each application. 

To request faster processing of your application, please submit your application and then email rcg@fireandemergency.nz to explain the reasons for your request. If you have submitted your application online, please provide your application reference number that starts with EV, or TS if the application is for a Temporary Structure. For example, EV-123456-01 or TS-123456-01

Will anyone from Fire and Emergency New Zealand visit the building as part of the evacuation scheme approval process?

This is usually only necessary if your building will be using ‘places of safety inside’. However, we may visit some buildings to ensure we have a clear understanding of the procedures that have been submitted to us for approval.

Is there a cost to apply?

No, there is no charge to apply for an evacuation scheme.

What is the difference between a trial evacuation and a training programme?

As part of your application you must select whether to maintain your scheme through trial evacuations or an evacuation training programme. 

Note: Buildings used for providing early childhood facilities (other than in a household unit) or as educational institutions must select trial evacuations. 

  • Trial evacuations usually involve all of the building occupants participating in a ‘fire drill’ where a fire emergency is simulated, i.e. sounding the alarm, evacuating the building, accounting for all occupants, etc. 
  • Evacuation training programmes must demonstrate how the permanent occupants (staff, residents, etc.) are trained to manage an evacuation of all the occupants from the building in an emergency. This is often the most suitable option for buildings whose occupants are likely to be transient (e.g. motels, theatres, etc.), need assistance to evacuate or where critical infrastructure is required to be monitored. 
Where can I get information about hazardous substance classifications?

Information about hazardous substance classifications is available from:

Refer to the Hazardous substances table [PDF, 525 KB] for more information.

My submission has been completed but I’ve spotted an error – can I make the change now?

No, changes can’t be made to completed submissions. Regulatory Compliance Group (rcg@fireandemergency.nz) may be able to assist, please contact them on 0800 734 2667 to discuss.

Templates

What is a template?

When you complete an application online, it can be saved as a template for future applications.
To use a template, open the template and edit the details that are different from the previous building.
We recommend only using these if the evacuation procedure is similar in the building you're applying for.

Can I create a template from scratch?

This feature isn’t currently available. A template is created from a previously submitted application.

Can I edit an existing template?

No. It is not possible to edit a template. It is possible to create more than one template so you can create templates to be used for specific scenarios 

Can I edit the template name and/or description

This feature isn’t currently available.

Maintaining my approved evacuation scheme

Can someone else complete the online maintenance notifications on my behalf?

No, online maintenance can only be completed when using your RealMe logon details. The scheme can be transferred to another person’s RealMe logon if needed – please contact the Regulatory Compliance Group on 0800 734 2667 or rcg@fireandemergency.nz  to discuss. Alternatively, if you are going to be away for a short time, someone else could complete manual notifications during this period.

If you have engaged an evacuation consultant to act on your behalf, they will be able to complete your maintenance activities.

Why can’t I complete maintenance for an online scheme using Online Services?

If you can’t complete your scheme maintenance online, please contact the Regulatory Compliance Group on 0800 734 2667 or rcg@fireandemergency.nz to discuss this.

I’ve sent manual notifications for an online scheme, but I keep getting reminders telling me the maintenance is overdue. What happened?

This usually means the maintenance was not entered against our records for your building. Please contact the Regulatory Compliance Group on 0800 734 2667 or rcg@fireandemergency.nz  to discuss this.

If I forget to complete the trial notification, or I hold the trial on a different date, can I still complete the trial evacuation report?

Yes. In these circumstances, when completing the trial evacuation report, please change the date to correctly reflect the actual date that the trial was completed.

What happens after an evacuation scheme has been approved?

Your approved scheme includes a requirement to complete either trial evacuations or an evacuation training programme at the frequency specified in your approved scheme (the period must not be greater than six months). To keep your scheme current and maintained you must notify Fire and Emergency within 10 working days each time this requirement has been completed.

Note: Even if you have an evacuation training programme in place, Fire and Emergency may require you to undertake a trial evacuation.

For full details please refer to our Maintain your approved evacuation scheme guide. [PDF, 786 KB]

What do we need to do after a trial evacuation?

If your approved evacuation scheme requires regular trial evacuations, you must provide a report to Fire and Emergency within 10 working days of the trial evacuation being carried out, with the information specified in the Regulations.

You can do this online.

If you are unable to complete your trial evacuation report online a paper form is available on the website to be printed, completed and either emailed or mailed to Fire and Emergency. 

For full details please refer to our Maintain your approved evacuation scheme guide. [PDF, 786 KB]

Do I need to call 111 during a trial evacuation?

Fire and Emergency recommend that the person managing the trial evacuation calls 111 as part of the trial evacuation. It is recommended that you phone your local Fire Communications Centre 10–15 minutes prior to your trial and immediately following your trial. This will help to avoid any confusion and/or unnecessary fire engine callouts, e.g. if neighbours hear your alarm and call 111 themselves.

Fire Communications Centre 

Areas covered 

Phone number 

Northern 

North of the line between Mount Taranaki and East Cape 

09 486 7948 

Central 

South of the line between Mount Taranaki and East Cape 

04 801 0812 

Southern 

All of the South Island 

03 341 0266 

Can we treat false alarms as trial evacuations?

Yes, evacuations conducted in response to an actual emergency or alarm of fire can be treated as trial evacuations, if Fire and Emergency receives a completed evacuation report within 10 working days of the evacuation, including the details outlined in the Regulations.

What do we need to do after a training programme is held?

If your approved evacuation scheme is maintained by a training programme, you must provide a training programme report to Fire and Emergency within 30 days of the scheme’s approval, and then at intervals as specified in your approved scheme.

If your approved scheme was applied for online, you can complete the notifications and reporting through our website. Otherwise a printable form [DOCX, 108 KB] is available. For full details please refer to our Maintain your approved evacuation scheme guide [PDF, 786 KB].

Can I amend or make a variation to my approved evacuation scheme?

If you wish to make a variation to an approved scheme, you are required to complete a Notification of building changes [DOCX, 105 KB] and return it to Fire and Emergency. The form will be assessed, and you will be advised if a variation to your current scheme is required or whether your scheme must be revoked, and a new scheme applied for.

Please note that you must notify Fire and Emergency in writing if one or more of the following events occur:

  • The building’s fire detection and suppression system is non-operational for a period of time.
    Note: For certified systems, you must complete the Fire Protection System Shutdown form provided to you by your fire protection system agent.
  • The means of escape from fire for the building is to be altered under section 107 of the Building Act 2004.
  • Building work is to be carried out on the building under section 112 or 133AT of the Building Act 2004, affecting the building’s means of escape from fire.
  • The building’s life is to be extended under section 116 of the Building Act 2004.
  • The occupancy of the building is changing to the extent that the building’s means of escape from fire will be materially affected.
  • There are to be changes to the place or places of safety specified in the evacuation scheme.
  • There is to be a change in purpose or activities within the building.

The building no longer requires an evacuation scheme, e.g. the building is to be demolished or will no longer be used for a purpose under section 75(1) of the Act.

Do I need to advise Fire and Emergency New Zealand of any other changes?

Yes, if the nominated contact person for the building (whether that is the owner or another person) will be absent from New Zealand for longer than 21 consecutive days, you must notify Fire and Emergency and nominate an alternative contact person for the building during the absence. 

Send an email to rcg@fireandemergency.nz with the dates affected, the contact details of an alternative contact person based in New Zealand, and the details of the evacuation scheme(s) affected. 

Website tips

What is RealMe?

RealMe is officially backed by government and is the secure way to prove who you are online. Your RealMe logon is unique to you and it puts you in control of your online identity. It's been designed to be trusted by businesses and government agencies. It makes signing up for products and services on the internet faster, easier, and more secure.

Go to the RealMe website(external link) to find out more.

Can an approved evacuation scheme be transferred to a different RealMe login?

Yes, but only if the approved scheme was applied for online. Transferring the scheme to another RealMe logon will allow that person to continue the ongoing maintenance needed for an approved scheme. Please email rcg@fireandemergency.nz to request a scheme transfer.

Note: If you are going to be away for a short time, someone else could complete manual notifications during that time.

What types of files can I attach to my online application?

Supporting files must be either JPG, JPEG or PDF formats.

JPG and JPEG are the most common file types for images taken with digital cameras and are widely used for photos.

PDF documents can be used across many different types of computers and browsers. There are a range of free PDF converter tools available online.