Disabled Evacuation – Fire safety management
So the fire alarm has just sounded in your premises. On your way out you pass a man in a wheelchair. He needs help but you are not sure what to do?
Well, preparation is the key with planning at the forefront! There are a few things you need to consider first;
Do the public have access to the building? If they do, will they be escorted or left on their own?
Have you checked with your own staff if they need assistance?
So think about your plan in phases and plan for;
Staff or visitors that you know have a disability.
People in your business that clearly have a disability (wheelchair, broken leg etc)
Lastly, plan for those without an obvious disability (eyesight/hearing problems etc)
It is worth noting that disability covers a large range of conditions not all of which are obvious.
If a staff member declares that they have a disability you must make a plan to assist in their evacuation. You do not need to know exactly what the condition is but you need to know the general problem (mobility issue/cant hear the fire alarm/eye sight etc)
The easiest plan is to sit down with your employee and discuss what help they need to get them out.
These plans are called a PEEP (personal emergency evacuation plan)
Now you plan for those you don’t know have an issue. During the evacuation, you must complete a sweep to ensure everyone is out. This includes the disabled refuge points (more on these later), on each floor. The evacuation plan must include a process of notification of someone in a disabled refuge point, whether through two-way comms or fire marshalls sweeping through.
On meeting someone at a refuge point you must assist where necessary. This may include the use of an evac chair, just holding their arm and supporting or someone who is elderly and needs more time.
If the fire service arrives, they need to be informed that the evacuation is ongoing.
The disabled refuge point; now more built-in design to new buildings and rare in older buildings, these areas provide a safe place to wait until assistance arrives. New buildings will have a two-way comms box and a sign (N9) informing you of how long you may have to wait. Don’t panic is you see 10+ mins as you should be in a fire protected stairwell giving you 1 hour + of safety. These newer buildings generally have a wheelchair size area to wait and will not hinder evacuation of the main body of people.
Older buildings are more difficult to assign a refuge point due to their design and lack of fire safety design. But that is not to say that it is impossible to add these into your business! The use of a toilet or other low-risk