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Procedure: Emergency response


This procedure describes the University’s emergency organisation structure and response procedures for foreseeable emergencies. This procedure meets the compliance requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) (WHS Act), the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Cth) (WHS Regulations) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth). This emergency response procedure is based on the requirements in Australian Standard (AS) 3745:2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities. This procedure is linked to the University’s Work Health and Safety Policy and is one of the WHS Management System Procedures.


Alert signal is the tone used to signal to the building occupants that they must prepare to evacuate the building. The tone is identified by a single level tone that is repeated at intervals, thus - beep.....beep.....beep.....beep.....beep.....etc.

All clear refers to the words used to indicate that the emergency services have given authority to occupiers to return to their normal duties and that the emergency is over.

Appropriate extinguisher refers to the type of portable fire extinguisher that should be used on the type of fire to be extinguished.

Area warden / floor warden is the person nominated to perform specific duties in an appointed area/ floor of a building.

Assembly area is a predetermined external area that is used when one or more facilities are evacuated. This is a designated area for the Building to account for and brief personnel on future actions.

Bomb is an explosive or incendiary device of any size or shape, which can look obvious or be camouflaged, may vary in its sophistication, and may not necessarily explode (i.e. incendiaries, toxic/noxious substances, sharps) whereby the contents are unexpected with the potential of causing harm. It may be referred to as an improvised explosive device (IED).

Bomb threat is a threat, written or verbal, delivered by electronic, oral, or other medium, threatening to place or use an explosive, chemical, biological, or radiological device at a time, date, and place or against a specific person or organisation. It is not necessary for any other action to be taken by the person making the threat.

Building refers to a structure or workplace that is, or may be, occupied by people (occupants).

Building Chief Warden refers to the person nominated to head the Emergency Control Organisation for their building.

Competent person refers to a person who has gained through training, education, qualification, experience or a combination of these, the knowledge and skill enabling them to correctly perform the required task, e.g. fire safety officer, etc.

Criminal emergency includes events such as bomb threats, civil disorder, illegal occupancy, hostage taking, terrorist activities, etc.

Civil emergency includes events such as fire, gas leak, water leak, and laboratory accidents including chemical, biological or radiation spill, etc.

Deputy Building Chief Warden refers to the person nominated to assist the Building Chief Warden.

Emergency Control Organisation (ECO) is a structured organisation which will organise an appropriate response to emergency situations.

Emergency evacuation diagrams/plans are diagrams that have been erected around the University showing people where they are and where the fire exits are. These plans are supplemented by Fire & Evacuation orders mounted in the same frame. These plans are usually found near fire exits and lift foyers.

Emergency plan is written documentation of the emergency arrangements for a building, generally made during the planning process. It consists of the preparedness, prevention and response activities and includes the agreed emergency roles, responsibilities, strategies, systems and arrangements.

Emergency Services refers to the Police, Fire Brigade, Ambulance and State Emergency Service organisations.

Emergency Warning & Intercommunication System (EWIS) refers to the system that when activated automatically warns the occupants of a building (in sequence) of an impending evacuation. This panel enables the Building Chief Warden to talk to occupants via the buildings intercommunication system, and the evacuation tones can also be operated manually from this panel.

Evacuation is the movement of people in immediate danger to safety in an efficient and safe manner.

Evacuation signal is the tone used to indicate to the building occupants that they must evacuate the building under the directions of their Wardens. The tone is identified by a rise and fall tone that is repeated at intervals, thus - whoop.....whoop.....whoop.....whoop.....etc.

Fire alarm is the alarm activated by various devices throughout the building. This alarm is sent electronically to the Fire Brigade and also sounds an external bell or sounder outside the building in alarm. If a EWIS is installed, when the fire alarm sounds it will automatically sound the alert alarm throughout the building.

Local area is the relevant College, Research School or Service Division at the University.

Manual Call Point (MCP) is a device which, when activated, electronically notifies the Fire Brigade and sets off the fire alarm.

Natural emergency includes events such as death from natural causes, a bushfire, storm or earthquake.

Occupant is a person attending a building on a permanent or temporary basis, such as an employee, contractor, student or resident, but does not include a visitor.

Occupant or visitor with a disability refers to a person who requires:

  • more time or different forms of communication, compared with other occupants, to respond to an emergency; or
  • assistance to respond to an emergency or evacuate from a building.

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) is an individualized emergency plan designed for an occupant with a disability who may need assistance during an emergency.

Visitor is a person who is within a building and is temporarily visiting the building and is not:

  • employed at or for the building, either on a permanent casual, temporary or contracting basis;
  • a resident; or
  • studying at the building.
    Visitors include customers and clients.

Worker is anyone who carries out work for the University. A worker includes staff, volunteers, contractors and students gaining work experience at the University.


  1. This procedure:
  • defines emergencies at ANU and emergency priorities;
  • describes the University's emergency organisational structure;
  • defines the duties of the emergency organisation; and
  • helps management, staff, contractors, students and visitors to take appropriate action in the event of an emergency.
  1. An emergency is any event which arises internally or from external sources, which may adversely affect the occupants or visitors in a facility, and which require an immediate response (AS 3745:2010). The event could arise from material objects, natural phenomena or human behaviour.
  2. Emergency events will generally conform to the following criteria:

Table 1 Emergency events


Within buildings or on University grounds

Number of Persons at Risk

An individual or a group

Type of Emergency


  • fire;
  • gas/water leak;
  • vehicle accident;
  • chemical/radiation/biological spill;


  • bushfire;
  • storm;
  • earthquake;


  • bomb threat;
  • civil disorder/illegal occupancy;
  • hostage/terrorist situation;
  • physical (including sexual) assaults.

  1. The following priorities apply to emergencies at ANU.

Table 2 Emergency priorities




Protect Life - Ensure people who may be in danger are notified.


Prevent the Spread of the Hazard - where the hazard is in a building, control the extent of the hazard within the building and minimise its release into the environment.


Save Assets in the Affected Area.


Eliminate the Hazard.

The University's organisational structure for emergencies

  1. The University’s organisational structure for emergencies comprises the:
  • Emergency Planning Committees (EPC); and
  • Emergency Control Organisations (ECO).

Indemnification of EPC/ECO members

  1. ANU indemnifies EPC/ECO members against legal proceedings arising out of any action undertaken in good faith during their duties as members of the emergency planning committee or emergency control organisation.

The Emergency Planning Committee (EPC)

  1. There is an overarching University–wide EPC facilitated through Facilities and Services and University Executive through the University Crisis Management Team.
  2. Each College, School or Service Division, as determined by each College Dean/Director in consultation with the University-wide EPC Committee, shall have an EPC for its facilities.
  3. The role of the EPC is to:
  • develop, implement and maintain the emergency plan, emergency response procedures and related training for their respective facilities (see Duties of EPC Members); and
  • establish an emergency control organisation (ECO) to operate in accordance with the emergency plan and emergency response procedures.

Training of EPC Members

  1. Training shall be conducted for at least one member of the EPC to enable them to competently execute their obligations. Training is available to the standard required in AS 3745:2010 through ANU Training Courses.

EPC Membership

  1. Where multiple business units occupy a facility, the business unit with the most number of workers will lead the EPC.
  2. Where the EPC represents a single building it shall consist of not less than two people. One shall represent senior management, and one shall be a competent person.
  3. Where the EPC represents more than one building in a College/School/Service Division, EPC membership shall be representative of the size and number of the buildings to be represented by the Committee.
  4. Where a building contains people with disability the EPC should include, where reasonable, an occupant with a disability.

The Emergency Control Organisation (ECO)

  1. The building emergency control organisation (ECO) is a designated organisation of people employed within the building or facility who take command during an emergency situation, while awaiting the arrival of the fire brigade or other emergency services (see Duties of ECO Members).
  2. At the University, the ECO may consist of the following individuals:
  • Building Chief Warden and or Deputy Building Chief Warden;
  • Communications Officer;
  • Building Floor Wardens;
  • Building Wardens;
  • Safety Officers; and
  • First Aid Officers.
  1. After hours, ANU Security will act as Building Chief Wardens.

Authority of ECO personnel

  1. During emergencies, instructions given by the ECO personnel shall take precedence over the normal management structure.

Training of ECO personnel

  1. All members of the emergency control organisation should undergo formal training in emergency response procedures. Training is available to the standard required in AS 3745:2010 through ANU Training courses.

Duties of ECO

Chief Warden and Deputy Chief Warden

  1. The Chief Warden, or If absent the Deputy Chief Warden, is expected to:
  • Respond immediately to an emergency alarm;
  • Decide If an emergency should be declared in the Building;
  • Determine what emergency response procedures should be carried out; and
  • Bring the ECO quickly into action.
  1. The Chief Warden assumes control of the occupants of the Building from the time an alarm is raised until emergency service recommends re-entry into the Building. The Chief Warden has the authority to force the evacuation of their building in the event of an emergency.
  2. The senior officer of the emergency service (e.g. fire brigade, police, bomb squad, etc.) should assume responsibility of the situation on arrival.
  3. The Chief Warden’s responsibilities are:
  • being available, or organising cover, for all times the Building is normally occupied;
  • organising and giving out relevant information to all Wardens and occupants for use in an emergency, including details of the fire alarm system, the emergency warning system and the emergency response procedures;
  • briefing Emergency Services personnel on arrival of the type, scope and location of the emergency, the status of the evacuation and any on-site hazards associated with the building and or facility;
  • organising and displaying evacuation plans for each floor or zone, through the Facilities and Services Division;
  • maintaining and displaying a current list of all Floor Wardens and Deputies (with phone numbers and locations);
  • ensuring that the Chief Warden and the Deputy Chief Warden are not simultaneously absent during normal working hours; and
  • training or organising training for newly appointed Wardens in ECO operations.
  1. The Deputy Chief Warden shall under-study the Chief Warden and assume the Chief Warden's responsibilities when the Chief Warden is absent from the Building.

Floor Wardens and Deputy Floor Wardens

  1. Floor Wardens should be appointed for each floor or zone of a Building, to control the emergency response procedures for their floor, generally as directed by the Chief Warden.
  2. Floor Wardens have the authority to evacuate their floor or zone if they consider there is any danger to personnel in that zone.
  3. Floor Wardens must be familiar with:
  • Operation of the fire alarm, the emergency warning system and other equipment for the building used in an event of emergency;
  • All means of exit and alternative escape routes for their floor or zone;
  • The existence and positions of rooms leading off blind passages, doors leading to dead ends and any other confined areas in which peoples' could be located for their floor or zone;
  • Potentially dangerous materials or operations undertaken in their zone;
  • The location and operation of fire doors, smoke doors, fire blankets, portable fire extinguishers and fire hoses on their floor or zone;
  • The number and location of disabled people on their floor or zone.
  1. It is important the Floor Warden or a Deputy Floor Warden be available for each floor or zone during periods of normal occupancy.

Recognising ECO personnel

  1. ECO personnel may be identified by colourful apparel consisting of a helmet, cap or hat and/or vest.
  2. The following table describes the ECO identification colours.

Table 3 ECO Identification Colours

ECO Position


Chief Warden


Deputy Chief Warden


Communications Officer


Floor/Area Warden




First Aid Officers

Green with White Cross


  1. All building occupants shall avoid dangerous practices that increase the risk of an emergency. Refer to Fire Prevention and fire protection form and Portable fire extinguisher guide.

Persons with a disability

  1. Disability or chronic medical conditions may impact on a person's safe and speedy evacuation. They must discuss their individual concerns/procedure with respective wardens, before any event needing the person's evacuation.
  2. Occupants and visitors with a disability shall have a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP). This document outlines the method of contacting them during an emergency and procedure for evacuating them from the building.

Example of a PEEP

  1. All people who have a disability or chronic medical condition should be guided to a pre-arranged evacuation point and the building chief warden notified. The building chief warden will arrange priority evacuation with the emergency services if needed.
  2. Persons with a disability or medical condition may be placed on the landing in the fire stairs with a warden or competent person, to offer comfort and support. They may also be evacuated by lift under guidance of emergency services.

Evacuation exercises

  1. Evacuation drills are an important part in the staff awareness and training of emergency evacuation procedures. This ensures a fast, safe execution of the procedure.
  2. Evacuation exercises, coordinated by the University Fire Safety Officer and Chief Warden, must be carried out at least once a year in all buildings, and twice a year for residences.
  3. In planning and performing an evacuation exercise the Chief Warden should coordinate the timing of the exercise with:
  • the Director or Head of the Budget Unit;
  • the Business Manager or Laboratory Manager of the Budget Unit.
  1. The following table describes the Chief Warden's steps in organising an evacuation exercise.

Table 4 Organising an evacuation exercise




Ensure that all staff are trained to recognise the ALERT and EVACUATION signals and know the relevant procedures, exit routes, and assembly area.


Send out advanced notice of the exercise (including date and estimated time) to all staff to help their understanding and cooperation if required and appropriate.

Make a special effort to organise the exercise when both the Director/Head and the Business/Laboratory Manager are present in the Building. The cooperation and active participation of senior officers in a building is essential to ensure the full support of staff.

As well as Building exercises, organise exercises specifically for lecture theatres and large teaching laboratories when occupied.


Oversee the exercise and record the time needed to complete the evacuation.


Conduct a meeting after the evacuation exercise to discuss the observers' findings and make any changes required to the evacuation plan.

If there is an emergency

  1. The following table describes what to do for different emergencies.

Table 5 Emergency response

When there is ...

Then …


Armed intruder

Bomb threat

Civil disorder

  • Notify ANU security (through university phone on X 52249 or through external phone on 02 6125 2249);
  • Follow the steps outlined in the Civil disorder emergency response;


Airborne contamination

Medical emergency

Gas leak

Chemical spill

Emergency action

Biological incident

  • Follow the procedure in the ANU Biological Safety training folder;

Radiation incident

Natural emergency

  • Notify ANU Security (through University phone on x 52249 or through external phone on 02 6125 2249) and associated Building Chief Warden or Warden as soon as possible;

Criminal emergency

  • Notify ANU Security (through University phone on x 52249 or through external phone on 02 6125 2249) and associated Building Chief Warden or Warden as soon as possible.

Staff, students, visitors and contractors

  • Students must follow the instructions and directions of the lecturer or tutor.
  • Lecturers and tutors must ensure that when requested to evacuate, their class is evacuated and must maintain control of their students until released by the ECO.
  • Persons responsible for public areas/cafes/public theatres/public venues (staff and/or contractors) are to take responsibility and provide information to patrons during emergency situations and evacuations.
  • All staff, students, visitors and contractors are to follow the instructions and directions from Building ECO members in an emergency.

Emergency equipment placement and maintenance

  • Facilities and Services shall ensure the suitability, location and accessibility of emergency equipment is considered and reviewed during the planning, construction and alteration of any University facilities in accordance with the Building code of Australia.
  • Facilities and Services shall ensure emergency and fire protection equipment, exit signs and alarm systems are inspected, tested and maintained in accordance with frequencies defined in AS 1851:2012 and AS 2293.2:1995.


Legal and other requirements

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth)

Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Cth)

the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth)

AS 1851:2012 Routine Service of Fire Protection Systems and Equipment

AS 2293.2:1995 Emergency escape lighting and exit signs for buildings

AS 3745:2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities

Building Code of Australia


Printable version (PDF)
Title Emergency response
Document Type Procedure
Document Number ANUP_000699
Purpose This procedure describes the University emergency organisation structure and response procedures for foreseeable emergencies. This procedure meets the compliance requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act, 2011 (Cth) (WHS Act), the Work Health and Safety Regulations, 2011 (Cth) (WHS Regulations) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, 1988 (SRC Act). This emergency response procedure is based on the requirements in Australian Standard (AS) 3745:2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities. This procedure is linked to the Australian National University’s Workplace Health and Safety Policy and is one of the WHS Management System Procedures located on the Work Environment Group Web Page.
Audience Staff
Category Administrative
Topic/ SubTopic Staff
Effective Date 23 May 2019
Next Review Date 31 Mar 2024
Responsible Officer: Chief People Officer
Approved By: Chief Operating Officer
Contact Area Safety and Wellbeing
Authority: The Australian National University Enterprise Agreement 2023-2026
Delegations 271

Information generated and received by ANU staff in the course of conducting business on behalf of ANU is a record and should be captured by an authorised recordkeeping system. To learn more about University records and recordkeeping practice at ANU, see ANU recordkeeping and Policy: Records and archives management.