There is a requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) Order 2005 (RRO), to ensure that disabled persons can be safely evacuated to a place of ultimate safety. Building operators have a duty of care to risk assess and plan for the evacuation of all their occupants, including those with disabilities. The building operators are responsible for the evacuation of disabled people, not the fire service.
Disabled people should not be considered as a single homogenous group but as individuals within the full spectrum of disabilities; all are individual with a complex mixture of needs and wants. Generally, disability is understood to be divided into the following major categories:
- Mobility and dexterity
- Learning or cognitive disabilities
Each of these can be broken down further and many people may have more than one disability. It should also be remembered that many disabilities or inabilities cannot be seen or may not be viewed as a disability, such as those who have panic attacks. This can often be a complex process to interrogate physical limitations and design considerations, whilst comprehending the full diversity of people and meeting their intrinsic individual evacuation needs.
At JSA we are experienced in working with design teams and fire engineers to develop fire evacuation strategies, GEEP’s and PEEP’s and evacuation training of staff; our top tips are:
- Plan for all disabled users evacuations (GEEP’s & PEEPS).
- Plan fire zones to provide horizontal evacuation.
- Provide adequate refuge/s for anticipated numbers.
- Ensure lifts can be used for evacuation.
- Review stair design to accommodate carry down and future mechanical equipment use.
- Use circulation stairs for evacuation.
- Review the existing or new design and consider evacuation; this may require evacuation in opposing routes.
- Review policies based on users throughout the day and night.
- Train staff in evacuation procedures and equipment use.