The Manager/HOD is responsible for ensuring that their area of responsibility is PREPARED for EMERGENCIES - fires happen at unexpected times, and can have devastating consequences. This includes a PLAN of HOW to WARN EVERYONE to EVACUATE. The emergency evacuation plan of action should involve a team of responsible staff members, including:

Grab this:


View: RU Intro to Fire Safety - to assist you with fire safety planning in your building.

The emergency team should meet before and after Fire Drills - to plan and review their emergency procedures. Issues to consider include:

  • Evacuation routes for each area/level;
  • Who monitors each entrance/exit point;
  • Who checks evacuation of toilets, etc;
  • Who assists persons with disabilities (visual, hearing, mobility).
  • Emergency Kit: All buildings should have emergency items that are easily accessible in case of emergency. Consider including
      1. Reflective bib/vest (order from Facilities Services Maintenance Stores): worn by emergency team members - improve visibility; 
      2. Whistle or loudhailer/megaphone (order from Facilities Services Maintenance Stores): help with directing occupants;
      3. Checklists/register of building occupants (per area/level)
      4. First Aid Box: to deal with any injuries;
      5. Torch / emergency lighting: in case of poor visibility.
      6. Emergency contact list: listed in Emergency Evacuation Plan of Action GENERIC‌ - save key numbers on your cell phones!
      7. Drinking water.


Alarms: If your fire alarm system is faulty, use an alternative method - such as banging pots with spoons, a ref’s whistle, etc.

Emergency Assembly Point

  • This should be approx 50 metres away so occupants can gather safely after evacuation - without being injured by falling or burning debris, flying glass from broken windows, etc.
  • All buildings should have (1) Emergency Assembly Point 1 - which is always used, unless it becomes unsafe, in which case the Coordinator declares the change to (2) Emergency Assembly Point 2.
  • Emergency Coordinator should check that all are present and safe, and give further instructions.


  • This can be a very simple outline / diagram of the building.
  • Example floor plan on page 3 of Emergency Evacuation Plan of Action GENERIC‌.
  • Draw your own, or if your building is fairly new, the Facilities Services Draughtsperson should be able to email you a pdf. Contact the Division of Infrastructure and Operations for more info, RU ext  8216. 

Emergency Exits

Exit doors and exit routes should be clearly marked with the appropriate signage (see below) and kept clear at all times. Scroll down to see OHS Act regulations.

  • Two (2) exit doors are required for any classroom, lecture room or boardroom that seats 50 or more people, and any other room with 25 or more persons.

  • Break glass boxes containing keys for locked exit doors should be organised through Building Maintenance, RU ext 8421/2.

  • External fire escapes (stairs/ladders) and/or push bar fire escape doors and/or alarmed exit devices may be required (e.g. in large buildings with only 1 internal stairwell, in large meeting/lecture venues, in RU residences). This should be organised through Engineering, RU ext 8238 / 8236 / 7451; email d.martin(at)ru.ac.za / steven.peter(at)ru.ac.za; or speed dial 5231 (Martin) / 5031 (Peter).

Safety Signs

Safety Signage that is photoluminescent (glows in the event of power failure) is required to indicate emergency exits, escape routes, and the location of fire safety equipment. RU has two options:

  • Metal or plastic signage should be organised through the Division of Infrastructure and Operations. Visit Safety Signage

    Spray-painted signage (applied directly to a surface, using a template) should be organised through Division of Infrastructure and Operations Building Maintenance. See Safety Signage 

Fire Safety Assessment

To assess if your building requires an external fire escape, or if it has sufficient fire safety equipment, or any related maintenance concerns, contact:

  • Engineering section, RU ext 8238 / 8236 / 7451; email d.martin(at)ru.ac.za / steven.peter(at)ru.ac.za; or speed dial 5231 (Martin) / 5031 (Peter) - will liaise with Makana Fire & Rescue Services.
  • SHE Officer, RU ext 7205 or email safety(at)ru.ac.za - will liaise with Makana Fire & Rescue Services to conduct an inspection of your building.


A building can be engulfed in flames in as little as 3 minutes. Examples of why fire safety should be taken seriously:

More info:

  • RU Safety, Health & Environmental Officer: 046-603.7205 or safety(at)ru.ac.za

  • Questions and answers: visit the Labour Guide Forum

An extract from the Occupational Health and Safety Act (1993), Environmental Regulations for Workplaces (1987) - retrieved February 11, 2009:

Section 9. Fire precautions and means of egress

1. In order to expedite the evacuation of a workplace in case of fire, every employer shall ensure that -

a. any emergency escape door from any room or passage or at a staircase shall, as far as is practicable, be hung so as to open outwards;

b. every door of a room in which persons may be present, and every door of a passage or at a staircase serving as a means of exit from such room, shall be kept clear and capable of being easily and rapidly opened from inside so as to ensure quick and easy evacuation;

c. the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) shall also be complied with in respect of the outer escape exit from the workplace;

d. staircases and steps leading from one floor to another or to the ground shall be provided with substantial hand-rails;

e. staircases intended to be used as fire escapes shall -
i. be constructed of non-combustible material;
ii. be kept clear of any material or other obstruction; and
iii. not terminate in an enclosed area;

f. staircases, passages and exits intended for escape purposes shall be of a width and of a gradient which will facilitate the quick and safe egress of the number of persons intended to make use of them; and

g. having regard to the size, construction and location of a workplace, the number of persons, and the activity therein, such workplace is provided with at least two means of egress situated as far apart as is practicable.

2. Having regard to the size, construction and location of the workplace, and the amount and type of flammable articles uses, handled or stored on the premises, an employer shall provide on the premises an adequate supply of suitable fire-fighting equipment at strategic locations or as may be recommended by the fire chief of the local authority concerned, and such equipment shall be maintained in good working order.

Return to Rhodes University's Safety front page. Questions/Suggestions? Contact safety(at)ru.ac.za

Last Modified: Sat, 15 Dec 2018 08:44:57 SAST