“We’re in a four-story office building and don’t have an evacuation lift and of course can’t use our normal lifts in an emergency. There are 3 exit staircases but we don’t currently have any person here who would need help evacuating down the stairs in an emergency. So how many do we need to make sure we are compliant in case things change?”
Well, currently there is no legal requirement for any organisation to provide evacuation chairs, the most relevant piece of legislation is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 or RRFSO. It states under article 9 that the findings of the fire risk assessment will help the responsible person decide if evacuation chairs are be required. Furthermore, if they deem they are required, then how many depends on meeting their existing fire safety arrangements under article 11 of the order.
Government guidelines regarding the means of escape for disabled people states that where evacuation chairs are the preferred method of escape, the responsible person will provide them. For a member of staff it should ideally be easily accessible and included in their Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP).
For buildings were the majority of those are visitors / members of the public, it is advisable to place evacuation chairs at suitable refuge areas within them and close to the means of escape for that building.
It is an expensive exercise to place one chair on every staircase on every floor for the ‘just in case’ scenario which is why the fire risk assessment is so important. It should identify what is the most acceptable solution based on the current fire safety measures in place, the building layout and any individual circumstances.
It’s important to remember that evacuation chairs are only one element of the solution. They are the ‘tool’ to facilitate the escape of a mobility impaired person as part of the organisation’s evacuation plans. Regular training and including their use within fire drills is essential to ensure any risks are minimalised.
Our general rule of thumb is ‘ONE chair on ONE floor will serve ONE person’. With that as the starting point and in conjunction with the findings of the fire risk assessment, you’ll be answer the question of how many evacuation chairs you need.
If you’re still unsure how many evacuation chairs you require, Evacusafe can provide you with a FREE site assessments. Please contact us directly to arrange.