Bushfire preparedness and the National Law
The National Law requires early childhood education services to ensure that every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children from any harm or hazard likely to cause injury, including bush fires.
Preparing for bush fire conditions and responding appropriately during periods of high fire danger or local bush fire activity
Regulations 97 and 168(2)(e) of the Education and Care Services National Regulations require an approved provider of an education and care service to have an emergency and evacuation policy and procedure which includes the following information:
- risk assessment to identify the potential emergencies relevant to the service
- instructions for what must be done in the event of any emergency
- emergency and evacuation procedures and a floor plan
Services in or near bush fire prone areas are encouraged to complete the NSW Rural Fire Service Bush Fire Response Procedure.
The procedure should identify key actions including:
- Prevention measures before and during the bush fire season
- Response measures during a bush fire hazard or bush fire emergency situation
- Recovery measures to support the return of services and routines.
To be prepared, services in bush fire prone areas should:
- ensure that emergency procedures are regularly practised with staff members and volunteers of the service and children being cared for by the service.
- prepare specific bush fire response procedures.
For more detailed information on ECE services and bush fires, visit ECE Bush Fire Information Sheet (PDF 1562.84KB).
Checklist for ECE Services
Things for early childhood services to consider
- What are your onsite and offsite evacuation procedures?
Services should identify offsite evacuation sites not in the immediate vicinity of their service.
- What assistance do you need to evacuate the children in your care?
If any of your children or staff have special needs or require assistance to evacuate, arrangements should be in place to ensure this assistance can be provided during an emergency.
- If you do evacuate, how will parents know where to find their children?
Services should retain access to parent/carer contact information when they evacuate and ensure parents/carers know what the evacuation procedures are in advance of any emergency.
- What facilities are available at your pre-identified evacuation sites?
- How will you ensure that children are only released to persons authorised to collect them?
If it’s not safe to evacuate, are you equipped to shelter-in-place at your usual location?
- What mechanisms do you have in place to ensure the transfer of real-time information, such as weather forecasts, bush fire activity, site closures, and emergency operations?
Services should have arrangements in place to receive and share appropriate information and advice that will assist staff to respond appropriately.
- How do you make visitors and contractors aware of your service’s emergency response procedures?