Today’s correspondent has a

… question related to the evacuation of staff during an Emergency Evacuation (specifically a Fire Alarm).

I am a (voluntary) Floor Warden, but this morning during an evac, several staff chose not to leave – believing the staff kitchen toaster was the cause. And it was.

My question is this, do I have any authority in NSW to insist my colleagues to evacuate our workplace during an Emergency Evacuation (Fire Alarm)? The Fire Officer that visited our floor to check the cause asked my colleagues why they hadn’t evacuated. They naturally lied and said they had.

I’ve been told by Trainers that Wardens do have authority, and that any person that refuses to leave should be noted and reported to the Senior Warder and Fire Officers. Wardens are to relay the information on evacuation, noting any objectors/remainers.

Do you have anything on that specifically?

Fire wardens do not have any authority to insist that colleagues evacuate.  It’s true you should, if possible, note who has refused to evacuate and report that to the senior warden or fire brigade but that is not a power to insist on evacuation.

That information is important for the fire brigade who may have to make a decision to enter the building immediately to exercise their power under the Fire and Rescue NSW Act 1989  (NSW) s 19 and ‘cause to be removed any person, … the presence of whom … might, in the officer’s opinion, interfere with the work of any fire brigade’; or enter the building later to recover their bodies.