multi-tenant building

Case Study – Chief Wardens in multi-tenanted buildings

Names have been changed to protect client identities.

Suttons Medical Centre is a multi-tenanted office building in rural NSW that accommodates individual medical and allied health businesses. I was asked by the tenants during a consultation if it would be sufficient for each tenancy to have their own Chief Warden that would be responsible for evacuating their individual suite or is it necessary to have one Chief Warden for the entire building.

My formal answer was:


Dear Suttons Medical Centre,


Thank you for your query regarding Chief Warden responsibility.

A Chief Warden is required for the entire facility in order to facilitate an effective emergency response for all areas including common areas like hallways, lobbies, stairwells and toilets. With a fire panel located in the ground floor main foyer, it would be most beneficial for the facility if one person was responsible for the control and operation of the system and the emergency. A suitable number of Deputies should also be nominated so that there is always a person onsite able to take control of an emergency situation whenever the building is occupied.

SafeWork NSW also advise that although the WHS Regulation 2017 does not mention “Chief Warden” by title, it is clearly stated that your emergency plan must provide for:

“ effective communication between the person authorised by the person conducting the business or undertaking to coordinate the emergency response and all persons at the workplace” (NSW Legislation, 2017)

This can be interpreted to mean that there must be a person to “coordinate the emergency response” and “communicate to all persons at the workplace”. The Person Conducting the Business or Undertaking (PCBU) can liable for up to $30,000.00 for non-compliance.

I hope this provides clarification for you and your team.


Kind regards


Emergency Response Specialist