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Contents of the emergency plan

An emergency plan is a document that acts as a tool for safety development work. The emergency plan should contain information on how to try to prevent hazardous situations, how they are prepared for and how to act when accidents occur.

The Ministry of the Interior has published guidelines for compiling emergency plans for residential buildings. The purpose of these guidelines is to support self-preparedness planning and implementation for residential buildings and compiling an emergency plan. The instructions can be downloaded in PDF format here (in Finnish).

A guide to emergency planning (in Finnish) as well as adocument template for safety and emergency plan (in Finnish) have been compiled for care institutions and service and supported housing locations. These locations are also obligated to create an evacuation safety report, in accordance with Section 18 of the Rescue Act.

 

The Rescue Act 379/2011, Section 14 Self-preparedness

The owner and occupants of a building and the business and industrial operators shall for their part:

1) prevent fires and other dangerous situations;

2) prepare for the protection of persons, property and the environment in dangerous situations;

3) prepare for extinguishing fires and taking other such rescue action which they are capable of performing independently;

4) take measures to ensure a safe exit during fires and in other dangerous situations and to facilitate rescue operations.

The provisions of subsection 1 also apply to activities carried out outside buildings and to public events.

 

Who is obligated to compile an emergency plan?

The owner of the building or location is in charge of compiling the emergency plan. If several operators inhabit the building, the building owner must compile the emergency plan in cooperation with the operators. The building owner must, however, always compile the emergency plan in cooperation with the care facility or service and supported housing operator as defined in Section 18 of the Rescue Act, if one is operating in the same locations. In certain conditions, an emergency plan must also be compiled for public events.

 

Government Decree on Rescue Operations 407/2011, Section 1

The emergency plan defined in section 15 of the Rescue Act (379/2011) must be compiled for:

1) residential buildings with at least three residential apartments;

2) locations defined in Section 18 of the Rescue Act;

3) schools, educational institutes and other similar premises used for teaching;

4) child welfare institutes and school homes as well as day care centres, family day cares and other premises intended for organising group care for children, excluding private apartments;

5) accommodation businesses defined in the Act Concerning Accommodation and Restaurant Operations (308/2006) as well as camping sites and temporary camping sites as defined in the Outdoor Recreation Act (606/1973);

6) premises used for temporary group accommodation of at least 20 people;

7) churches, libraries, sports and exhibition halls, theatres, service stations, exhibition areas, race tracks, amusement parks and similar public meeting places;

8) shopping centres and similar premises as well as shops of over 400 square metres in size;

9) restaurants with over 50 seats and similar premises;

10) industrial, production or storage buildings over 1,500 square metres in size;

11) animal shelters requiring an environmental permit, as defined in Section 1 of the Environmental Protection Decree (169/2000);

12) locations where small-scale industrial handling and storing of dangerous chemicals can be practiced only by filing a notification as defined in Section 24 of the Act Concerning the Safety of Dangerous Chemicals and Explosives (390/2005);

13) locations defined as cultural assets by the international agreements relating to the protection of cultural assets, which are binding on Finland, and buildings and locations containing cultural assets as well as other buildings and locations protected as cultural assets based on other acts and decrees;

14) work places where the number of employees and other people present is usually at least 50;

15) over 100-metre long tunnels in public use.

If a safety, preparedness or similar plan has to be compiled for the same location based on an act other than the Rescue Act or due to an order given by a competent authority, a separate emergency plan does not need to be drawn up, as the matters can be included in the other plan in question. This must be mentioned in the plan.

 

The emergency plan must have been compiled within a year of the new Rescue Act coming into force, at the latest. The new act came into force on 1 July 2011. Already compiled emergency plans based on the old act had to be updated to meet the requirements of the new act at the latest within 2 years after the new act came into force.

 

Government decree on rescue operations 407/2011, Section 3 – Emergency plan for a public event

An emergency plan for a public event, as referred to in Section 16 of the Rescue Act, must be compiled for a public event, where:

1) the estimated number of visitors present at the same time is at least 200 people;

2) an open fire, fireworks or some other pyrotechnic products are used or flammable and explosive chemicals are used as special effects;

3) the evacuation arrangements deviate from the standard; or

4) the nature of the event is particularly risky for people.

If a safety, preparedness or similar plan has to be compiled for the same public event based on an act other than the Rescue Act or due to an order given by a competent authority, a separate emergency plan for a public event does not need to be drawn up, as the matters defined in Section 16(2) of the Rescue Act can be included in the other plan in question. This must be mentioned in the plan.

The Rescue Department must advise in the compiling of a public event’s emergency plan.

 

Content of the emergency plan

When compiling an emergency plan, the audience as well as the special aspects of the operations must be taken into account. The emergency plan must be suitably easy to understand so that the reader can understand the meaning of it easily. This facilitates the efficiency of accident prevention. A key stage of compiling an emergency plan is to review and assess the risks. Prevention of risks reviewed in advance is a better option for all parties than retrospectively limiting the damages of accidents that have already occurred . Instructions in case of emergencies should, however, be written down into the emergency plan, for safety's sake. Thereby, if an accident occurs, operations limiting the damages can be launched as quickly and efficiently as possible. The operational environment naturally has an effect on the risk assessment; the risks and hazards of a housing company are completely different to those of the operations in a hospital environment or industrial plant. The measures and plans presented in the emergency plan should, therefore, be based on the reviewed risks.

 

The emergency plan must include:

1) the conclusions of hazard and risk assessments;

2) the safety arrangements for the buildings and premises used in the operations;

3) the instructions given to the residents and other people in order to prevent accidents and for operating in accident and hazardous situations;

4) other possible measures related to the location’s self-preparedness.

 

Compiling the emergency plan for a public event starts with hazard and risk assessment. The nature of a public event has a significant effect on the plan’s content. A large public concert with pyrotechnics has significantly different requirements for safety arrangements to a running race or a flea market event for a neighbourhood, organised in a community house.

 

The Rescue Act 379/2011, Section 16 – Evacuation safety report for a public event

The organiser of a public event or other event that, on account of the large number of participants or some other special reason, involves a substantial risk to the safety of persons or fire safety shall draw up an emergency plan for the event.

The dangers and risks concerning the event shall be detailed and assessed in the emergency plan for a public event. The safety arrangements for the event and the instructions issued to the personnel responsible for the carrying out  of the event and the public taking part in the event on how to prevent accidents and what action to take in accidents or dangerous situations shall be defined on the basis of them.

The emergency plan for a public event shall be submitted to regional rescue authorities for information no later than 14 days before the start of the event. The regional rescue authorities may, for a special reason, accept the submission of the emergency plan for the public event after the time limit mentioned above. If the regional rescue authorities consider that the details and the assessment of the dangers and risks of the event referred to in subsection 2 or the safety arrangements and instructions defined on the basis of them are inadequate, they may return the plan for revision.

 

Evacuation safety report

The special characteristics of the operations must be taken into account when compiling the emergency plan. A good example of this is the evacuation safety report. The evacuation safety report must be compiled when the operators have clients whose ability to evacuate the premises during hazardous situations is lowered for some reason. Good examples of such operators are hospitals and nursing homes. The objective of an evacuation safety report is to acquire actual information on whether the safety arrangements and business premises are suitably safe for carrying out the operations, whether accident prevention measures are sufficiently efficient and whether the people at risk can be evacuated from the premises quickly enough in case of an accident.

 

The Rescue Act 379/2011, Section 18 – Evacuation safety in care institutions, service homes and supported housing locations

The operators of hospitals, care homes for the elderly and other institutional care facilities, closed penal institutions and other comparable sites (care institutions), and service and supported housing organised in the form of housing units and other comparable residential buildings and facilities housing residents whose functional capacity is lower than normal (service and supported housing) shall, by using reports and plans drawn up in advance and by taking measures based on them, ensure that the residents and the persons being treated are, in the event of a fire or other dangerous situation, able to leave the building safely, either on their own or with assistance.

The Rescue Act 379/2011, Section 19 – Evacuation safety report

The operator referred to in section 18 shall draw up a report on the manner in which the building or spaces are used or how the limited, weakened or varying functional capacity of persons and other factors affecting evacuation safety are taken into account when preparations are made for fires and other dangerous situations and in evacuation arrangements (evacuation safety  report). The safety report drawn up for the site in connection with the building permit corresponds to the evacuation safety report.

The evacuation safety report shall be drawn up before the start of the operations and updated at least every three years or when there are substantial changes to the operations.

 

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