Different facilities often have different alarm types (and steps to sounding alarms), however, there are three established alarm signals that many workplaces have under their obligations regarding AS 3745-2010 (Planning for Emergencies in Facilities) and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Some facilities will only have alarm tones, while others may also an Emergency (or Occupant) Warning System that includes a voice message or loudspeakers for the Chief Warden to communicate with everyone in the building at once.

This blog will explain what these three alarm tones mean, and what you should do if they sound in your workplace.

“Beep Beep”

This is the first sound you’ll hear in an emergency, and it means that you should prepare to evacuate the facility.

This means turnings off computers and other appliances or equipment, collecting the personal belongings closest to you, and securing anything valuable or confidential.

Facilities with an EWS will also hear instructions from the Chief Warden about what you should prepare to do next.

This alarm doesn’t always mean you will go on to evacuate, so do not evacuate unless you hear the evacuation tone, and you’re instructed to do so.

“Whoop Whoop”

When it’s time to evacuate, you will start to hear this evacuation tone instead of the previous one.

It will repeat at close intervals and is easy to identify by the rising and falling sound.

The Chief Warden or other Fire Wardens will use the loudspeaker to issue instructions at facilities with an OWS.

Even without an OWS, when you hear this tone it means you must evacuate immediately.

Remember that you are not able to go back into the building until advised it is safe to do so.


When you hear an alarm that is one continuous ringing sound, that indicates a fire has broken out.

This can be triggered either by one of the Wardens via the EWS or by someone breaking the glass of a fire alarm.

If it is not a false alarm, you will then hear either the “beep beep” tone to notify you to prepare for evacuation or the “whoop whoop” tone if you need to evacuate.

It is a vital part of your workplace emergency management procedures to ensure all staff know what the different alarm types and tones in your facility sound like, and what they mean.

Everyone in your ECO must know how to activate these alarms, and how to instruct those in the facility once they have been activated.

Workplace Emergency Management is here to help, by developing emergency response procedures and training to ensure that everyone in your facility knows what to do when an emergency alarm sounds.

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