Evacuation for people with impairments or disabilities

Information for those who need help, or can offer help, in an emergency evacuation.

During an evacuation of a University building, you or someone around you may need assistance. This may apply to people who:

  • Have physical impairments e.g. use a wheelchair/crutches or who have restricted mobility
  • Are blind or have low vision
  • Are deaf or have a hearing impairment
  • Have a medical condition e.g. arthritis, panic attacks, claustrophobia, cardiac or respiratory issues
  • Are heavily pregnant.

Look out for wardens

Our wardens are trained to identify those who may need assistance during an emergency. Please be courteous and comply with their instructions.

Wardens are identifiable by their high-visibility jackets:

  • Floor warden (red vest)
  • Building warden (yellow vest)
  • First aider (green vest)
  • HazMat (blue vest). HazMat stands for 'hazardous materials'.

Find out more: First aiders and defibrillatorsWarden duties.

Before an evacuation

If you will need assistance, get planning

Planning is key to safety in an emergency. It is important to familiarise yourself with the building/s you use. Take the time to determine where exits and exit stairwells are located, and identify alternative accessible routes.

Personal emergency evacuation plan

Do you have a personal emergency evacuation plan organised already with the Health, Safety and Wellbeing department?

If not, email hsw@auckland.ac.nz urgently so that a plan can be put in place prior to an emergency. This applies to everyone within the University community who will require assistance. 

More planning steps

Inform a supervising staff member

Visiting a facility such as a library or shared study space?

  • Tell the front desk/reception area if you will need assistance in an emergency and advise them when you leave the building.

Buddy system

A buddy (e.g. a friend, study companion, supervisor) can assist you in an emergency.

  • Ensure your buddy is familiar with the building and knows where the exits and exit stairwells are located.

Complete the assistance register

If you study or work primarily in one building and you know you will need evacuation assistance, fill out the Building Assistance Register for People with Disabilities. Email the form to hsw@auckland.ac.nz.

This means that: 

  • In an evacuation the building warden can let the Fire Service know where you are based.
  • If your primary location changes, please update the register with your new details.
  • Note: You are not required to disclose any personal health details on the register.

Assisting others

When the fire alarm is activated, look out for anyone who may need assistance. Ask if they need help to evacuate.

You may also be nominated by a warden to assist. It's important you follow their request and any requirements they set.

Important notes

  • If you see someone who appears unaware of the event, please alert them to the situation. They may have a hearing or vision impairment.
  • Some people may already have a buddy to help or may be able to exit without assistance.
  • Don't go in lifts or carry people down the stairs.
  • If you are in a stairwell when the alarm stops, check for smoke before re-entering the main building spaces.

Instructions if you are required to assist

At all times, communicate with the person you are assisting and be calm. Let them know what is happening and what you are going to do. Be patient and supportive. 

  1. Identify the safest and nearest exit and guide the person towards it calmly and at a pace they can keep up with. Don't use lifts.
  2. Don't carry people down the stairs (unless you are using an evacuation chair that you have been trained to operate).
  3. Let people who don’t need assistance enter the exit stairwell first. 
  4. If the person can go down stairs, guide and do not rush. Allow the person to go at their own pace and stop at intervals as needed. 
    • Ensure that you are not holding anyone up. If so, step aside into the next lobby area and allow other occupants to pass. Once the stairway is clear, continue your descent until you exit the building and go to the safe area.

If they are unable to exit via the stairs

  1. If they are unable to exit via the stairs, place them in a smoke-free EXIT stairwell lobby. You will need to stay with the person and provide support. Make sure:
    • The lobby is clear of people before entering.
    • All smoke stop doors are closed.
    • The floor warden or other building occupants know your location (note the stairwell and floor you are on)
  2. If you do not think anyone knows your location, dial 111 for Fire Service. They will relay the message to onsite Fire Service personnel.
  3. If you are alone and have no means of communication, tell the person you are helping that you will report their location to the Fire Service and exit the building. Report to the building warden and Fire Service immediately. Do not leave until the person you are assisting has been rescued.

Building warden: Checking the assistance register

If you're the building warden, check the building's assistance register. Call all of those registered and verify their locations.