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Fire exit locked… what can I do?

By 18 June 2014 14

Greetings hivemind,

I work in a small commercial building where the front door is locked after 5.30pm every day.  This means the only way out if I stay back is via the back door.  I guestimate that the floor area of the building is about 1200 square metres, i.e. 600 ground floor and the same upstairs, and there are five businesses in the building.  When the front door is locked the only way out from the ground floor is to go up the main stairs, thru the building, and out the fire steps at the back, via a locked courtyard.  It’s easy enough to get out the courtyard gate, but I’m not sure it’d pass muster for easy egress for a commercial building.  Further, there’s no lighting, emergency or otherwise.

This is particularly annoying if you’ve parked out the front and have to walk right around the block (via a lane with no other humans in it), which I reckon many would argue presents its own safety risks.  It’s also really annoying trying to get my bike out the building down the twisting fire stairs.

What I’m wondering is this:  how would one go about finding out whether or not it’s legal to lock the front door when people might still reasonably be expected to be working?  A quick web search didn’t yield anything helpful, and I’m hoping someone might be able to point me in the right direction.  My desired outcome would be to have the door fixed so it doesn’t have to be chained shut overnight.

(I should add that I’ve talked to our landlord and others, all useless.)

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14 Responses to Fire exit locked… what can I do?
#1
Henry821:38 pm, 18 Jun 14

Misleading title? Fire exit isn’t “locked”, just the front door.

>Further, there’s no lighting, emergency or otherwise.

Somewhat different issue. Are there lit exit signs?

#2
niftydog1:40 pm, 18 Jun 14

Contact ACT Fire & Rescue – they would probably offer advice or direct you to someone who can. They may even be able to arrange a site visit to inspect, but you’d probably want the landlord on-board for that.

#3
Beau Locks1:52 pm, 18 Jun 14

Henry82 said :

Misleading title? Fire exit isn’t “locked”, just the front door.

>Further, there’s no lighting, emergency or otherwise.

Somewhat different issue. Are there lit exit signs?

You’re right, sorry. Didn’t mean to be misleading.

There are not lit exit signs.

I should add that the front door isn’t locked with a key, but a chain, and only two people have the key for the lock.

#4
Beau Locks1:53 pm, 18 Jun 14

niftydog said :

Contact ACT Fire & Rescue – they would probably offer advice or direct you to someone who can. They may even be able to arrange a site visit to inspect, but you’d probably want the landlord on-board for that.

Thanks niftydog. I’m pretty sure the landlord would definitely not be on board!

#5
Masquara2:21 pm, 18 Jun 14

Find out who the landlord’s insurer is – they would definitely take an interest!

#6
Ben_Dover2:36 pm, 18 Jun 14

Easiest way to find out, is to start a fire, obvs.

#7
bronal3:08 pm, 18 Jun 14

Your post is typical of many in that you give some information but leave out other details that could help with comments. For a start, are you one of the business owners or an employee? I’ll take a punt and say the latter. The set-up in your building sounds unlawful to me. Why don’t you tell your employer that you must leave no later than 5.30 (although you would be happy to stay later when required) because you are not confident about the emergency exit arrangements. That should produce some action. IMO both your employer and the building owner would be liable in the event of any ‘incident’.

#8
patrick_keogh3:24 pm, 18 Jun 14

If you are an employee then the first point of contact outside your own company should be http://www.worksafe.act.gov.au/health_safety

Just give them a call. Your employer is obliged to provide you with a safe work environment, and Worksafe can provide you with the best advice. That is their responsibility no matter how much we all might value the (various) opinions of the hive mind.

#9
Masquara5:16 pm, 18 Jun 14

bronal said :

Your post is typical of many in that you give some information but leave out other details that could help with comments. For a start, are you one of the business owners or an employee? I’ll take a punt and say the latter. The set-up in your building sounds unlawful to me. Why don’t you tell your employer that you must leave no later than 5.30 (although you would be happy to stay later when required) because you are not confident about the emergency exit arrangements. That should produce some action. IMO both your employer and the building owner would be liable in the event of any ‘incident’.

I don’t agree with this take – if you can quietly alert the powers that be without putting your own head over the parapet, that might be the wisest course of action.

#10
Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd5:39 pm, 18 Jun 14

Beau Locks said :

Henry82 said :

Misleading title? Fire exit isn’t “locked”, just the front door.

>Further, there’s no lighting, emergency or otherwise.

Somewhat different issue. Are there lit exit signs?

You’re right, sorry. Didn’t mean to be misleading.

There are not lit exit signs.

I should add that the front door isn’t locked with a key, but a chain, and only two people have the key for the lock.

Look up the BCA.

Chain locking is illegal. There needs to be either panic bars on the door or a escape lever on the inside of the door.

#11
Bundybear5:46 pm, 18 Jun 14

With some experience in this area, albeit more residential than commercial, I would imagine that the front door to the building would be considered a fire exit, and you should be able to leave the building freely through it at any time. In the event of a fire alarm, the main front entrance to the building should auto unlock, doors are often set to auto open. At other times you should be able to leave the building via the front door by using a green exit button or a door handle that works from the inside while being locked from the outside. I’d be calling the firies to discuss and possibly arrange an inspection… they don’t need permission or the owner in attendance, but they may want you to show them the problem, which may be uncomfortable if you want to be more at arms length.

#12
bronal5:58 pm, 18 Jun 14

patrick_keogh said :

If you are an employee then the first point of contact outside your own company should be http://www.worksafe.act.gov.au/health_safety

Just give them a call. Your employer is obliged to provide you with a safe work environment, and Worksafe can provide you with the best advice. That is their responsibility no matter how much we all might value the (various) opinions of the hive mind.

patrick_keogh said :

If you are an employee then the first point of contact outside your own company should be http://www.worksafe.act.gov.au/health_safety

Just give them a call. Your employer is obliged to provide you with a safe work environment, and Worksafe can provide you with the best advice. That is their responsibility no matter how much we all might value the (various) opinions of the hive mind.

I agree but the OP would probably want his/her enquiry to be anonymous and not be pressurised into giving the address a way.

#13
Henry823:37 am, 19 Jun 14

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd said :

Chain locking is illegal. There needs to be either panic bars on the door or a escape lever on the inside of the door.

Are you sure? that would make pretty much every store front (with glass doors) in civic illegal

#14
patrick_keogh3:57 am, 19 Jun 14

bronal said :

patrick_keogh said :

If you are an employee then the first point of contact outside your own company should be http://www.worksafe.act.gov.au/health_safety

Just give them a call. Your employer is obliged to provide you with a safe work environment, and Worksafe can provide you with the best advice. That is their responsibility no matter how much we all might value the (various) opinions of the hive mind.

patrick_keogh said :

If you are an employee then the first point of contact outside your own company should be http://www.worksafe.act.gov.au/health_safety

Just give them a call. Your employer is obliged to provide you with a safe work environment, and Worksafe can provide you with the best advice. That is their responsibility no matter how much we all might value the (various) opinions of the hive mind.

I agree but the OP would probably want his/her enquiry to be anonymous and not be pressurised into giving the address a way.

That’s why I suggested calling them for advice rather than making a formal complaint in the first instance.

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