Help for people with disabilities or who need assistance during an evacuation

The University is committed to the Health, Safety and Wellbeing of everyone on our campuses. During an emergency evacuation of a University building, you or someone around you may need assistance to evacuate the building.  

This may apply to people who:

  • Have physical impairments, e.g., someone who uses a wheelchair or crutches, or who has restricted mobility.
  • Are Blind or have low vision.
  • Are Deaf or have a hearing impairment.
  • Have a medical condition, e.g., cardiac/respiratory condition, arthritis, panic attacks/claustrophobia.

Fire Wardens and First Aiders

The University’s Fire Wardens are trained to identify those who may need assistance during an emergency. If you are approached by a Fire Warden, please be courteous and comply with their instructions. Fire Wardens are identifiable by their different-coloured hi-vis jackets:

  • Building Wardens wear yellow jackets.
  • Floor Wardens wear red jackets.

University Fire Wardens are responsible for:

  • Making sure everyone evacuates the building when the alarm sounds.
  • Directing occupants to nearest and safest designated exit.
  • Liaising with the emergency services when they arrive.

The University’s First Aiders are trained to provide emergency assistance until the arrival of an ambulance or qualified medical expert. First Aiders wear green jackets.

Pre-planning

Pre-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. Other pre-planning steps include:

Informing a supervising staff member

  • If you visit a facility such as a library or shared study space, please advise the front desk/reception area if you will need assistance in an emergency and advise them when you leave the building.

Having a buddy system

  • You may wish to have a buddy (e.g., a friend, study companion, supervisor) who can assist you in an emergency event.
  • Ensure your buddy is familiar with the building and knows where the exits and exit stairwells are located. 

Completing the Assistance Register

  • If you study or work primarily in one building and you know you will need assistance during an evacuation, please fill out the Building Assistance Register for People with Disabilities. Email the form to hsw@auckland.ac.nz
  •  In the event of an evacuation the Building Warden can immediately let the Fire Service know where you are based. Please note:
    • If your primary location changes, please update the Assistance Register with your new details.
    • You are not required to disclose any personal health details on the Assistance Register.

How to provide assistance and support during an evacuation

Communication is vital to a successful evacuation. If you become aware of an emergency that requires a building evacuation, activate the nearest alarm and contact emergency services. If possible, notify the Floor Warden and/or the Building Warden. If you see someone who appears unaware of the event, please alert them to the situation and find out if you can assist. Be aware that they may have a hearing or vision impairment.

Remember:

  • When the fire alarm is activated, alert anyone who may need assistance. Ask that person what support they need. Some people may already have a buddy to help or may be able to exit without assistance.
  • Identify the safest and nearest designated exit and guide the person towards it calmly and at a pace they can keep up with. This prevents pushing or jostling, which could result in an accident or cause panic.
  • Let people who don’t need assistance enter the exit stairwell first. The person needing assistance can remain in the safe area of the stairwell lobby or descend the stairwell at their own pace with your assistance. Designated exit stairwells are designed to provide extra protection during a fire.
  • Let a Fire Warden know if you will stay in the stairwell lobby or go down the stairwell with the person you are assisting. In the absence of a Fire Warden (e.g., after hours), ask a fellow building occupant to report the location of the person needing assistance to the Building Warden and/or Fire Service.
  • If the person can go down the stairs, guide them 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 the person you are assisting is unable to go down the stairs (e.g., some wheelchair users), guide them into a smoke-free exit stairwell lobby. At least one individual should remain with the person as a support. Ensure the Floor Warden or other building occupants know your location. They need to advise the Building Warden and Fire Service. The Fire Service will come to your aid immediately. 
  • If you do not think anyone knows your location, dial 111 for Fire Service. They will relay the message to onsite Fire Service personnel.
  • If you are alone with the person who needs assistance and have no means of communication, tell the person that you will report their location to the Fire Service and exit the building. Report to the Building Warden and Fire Service immediately.
  • If the fire alarm is activated after hours/on weekends and there is no Fire Warden available, ask other building occupants to tell the onsite University security or Fire Service where you are. Stay with the person and provide support. If you don’t think anyone knows your location, dial 111 for Fire Service and inform them. They will relay the message to onsite Fire Service personnel.
  • Communicate with the person you are assisting. Noise, smoke and flickering lights can make an evacuation a confusing time. Remember to:
    • Let the person you are assisting know what is happening.
    • Let them know what you are going to do.
    • Keep calm.
    • Be supportive and patient. 
  • Upon exiting, advise the Building Warden that you have both left the building.

Important notes

  • Do not use lifts during an emergency evacuation.
  • Do not attempt to carry any person down stairs.

Life safety systems and protections

The University’s buildings have inbuilt life safety systems to allow occupants to safely exit buildings in a range of emergency events. There are a variety of systems utilised. These will differ in each building but may include:

  • Smoke-stop doors that can withstand intense heat and keep smoke out.
  • Stairwell pressurisation systems to keep smoke out.
  • Emergency lighting.
  • Early detection and warning alarms sounders/strobes.
  • Sprinklers.

These systems provide vital support to anyone who may have to remain in the building until the Fire Service can assist.

Other resources

If you are Deaf, hearing or speech impaired, you can register for the 111 TXT service:
www.police.govt.nz/111-txt

Calling 111 - What to expect

Creating a safe place to study

University of Auckland Health and Safety policy