Categories: Safety

Emergency planning: Why is it important to digitise Your floor plans?


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In recent years there have been many horrifying incidents that have rocked our society and world abroad prompting investigation by way of coronial inquests which have delivered subsequent recommendations for improvement.

Some of those that come to mind are the Quakers Hill Nursing Home Fire, the Lindt Café Terrorist incident and internationally the horrific Grenfell Fire which claimed over 70 lives in June 2017.

Each incident shared a common problem, that being the lack of current building floor plans and emergency plans.  In each event, first responders were without critical information required to run a rescue operation effectively.  For instance, at the Lind Café siege, it took first responders more than 4 hours to obtain a floor plan from Sydney City Council, hindering them to understand the basics and potential for entering and evacuating the café itself. 

One hostage had been slipping written messages with vital information under the evacuation door at the rear of the café but the Police didn’t know that door existed.

At the Quakers Hill fire, fire fighters could not locate the fire hydrant installed specifically for the building and used another they could identify on the other side of the street, this limited the reach of their equipment; the Grenfell disaster is still under investigation but we know that plans were unavailable and first responders had difficulty understanding which floors they were to evacuate out onto due to poor marking of levels on fire stairs, making it difficult to navigate through the burning building to evacuate occupants.  The first three levels of Grenfell had a different lay-out to the remaining floors of the building, with fire fighters battling intense smoke were unable to navigate their way effectively.

1-ISJ- Emergency planning: Why is it important to digitise Your floor plans?
A clear evacuation plan can help avoid disaster

Do you think your buildings would be better prepared?

As a result of the above findings, each inquest provided the following recommendations:

Quakers Hill Coronial Inquest – Recommendations 1 and 2

That the NSW Government provide funding for the instalment of mobile data terminals in Fire and Rescue NSW vehicles; That Fire and Rescue NSW develop a digital data base of pre-incident plans for use in major structural fires;

Lindt Café RecommendationItem 10 (of 45) Develop Integrated intelligence platform

10. From the Coroner: “I recommend that the NSWPF investigate the development of an integrated intelligence system that allows selected officers secure access to all information platforms and to record and share operational decisions”

From the Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1 Report dated October 2019

Chapter 33 Recommendations Item 6 Plans 33 .12

“It should be a simple matter for the owners or managers of high-rise buildings to provide their local fire and rescue services with current versions of such plans. I therefore recommend that the owner and manager of every high-rise residential building be required by law: a. to provide their local fire and rescue services with up-to-date plans in both paper and electronic form of every floor of the building identifying the location of key fire safety systems; b. to ensure that the building contains a premises information box, the contents of which must include a copy of the up-to-date floor plans and information about the nature of any lift intended for use by the fire and rescue services.

I also recommend, insofar as it is not already the case, that all fire and rescue services be equipped to receive and store electronic plans and to make them available to incident commanders and control room managers.”

Imagine you being confident that all this data for your buildings, including URL feed access to CCTV footage (eyes inside a building), floor plans, critical building information is collected and provided to Emergency Services….

For the past two years, Locatrix have been working on a solution that meets the recommendations and seeks to deliver First Responders better situational awareness.  The ESP is a platform that delivers all data collected through PlanStudio and feeds it to first responders so they can essentially have eyes inside the buildings that they are sent to protect.  Initially Federally funded, this service will enable a secure way to store and provide current plans (updated annually by certifiers who use the tool to create evacuation plans) directly to those who need it urgently.

PlanStudio, the input tool is one that is used today by NSW Fire and Rescue and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.  It is a quick and accurate way to create high quality, spatially accurate and digital floor plans.

All data (securely stored in accordance with ISO27001) has been offered to emergency services for access when they need to, in the case of an emergency.

In addition to floor plans, Locatrix’s PlanSafe product delivers site specific building emergency procedures as a learning outcome, providing another level of safety and compliance. Again, due to the business model whereby certifiers update this information annually, PlanSafe enables the collection and delivery of up to date data such as the Warden Structure of a facility, the contact names and numbers of the Emergency Control Organisation and the Emergency Evacuation Plan.  PlanSafe provides building occupants with site specific instructions as to how they are to escape a building and also any alternative solutions that building engineers have specified in the structure.

ESP and PlanStudio can provide Emergency Services a building’s critical information, giving confidence that the information is current and available for when it is needed.

Lee Johnson, retired Fire Commissioner for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and Advisory member of Locatrix is clearly impressed by Locatrix’s vision “The potential for this tool [ESP] is enormous, and I’m really excited to have a hand in the evolution of the product, as well as oversee its continued development”.

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