Evacuation procedures should be set in place along with designated trained staff that will assist those in need during the evacuation process. Those employees must undergo practical training in the use and operation of any evacuation equipment that may need to be used. They should practice using this equipment when an evacuation drill take place, which is recommended every six months. It is the employers or service provider’s responsibility to evacuate all people from a building in an emergency, as it is no longer the responsibility of the fire service to facilitate the evacuation of non-domestic premises. This is now outlined in the Regulatory Form Order for Fire Safety 2005, therefore illegal to plan a fire evacuation that relies solely upon the fire service being involved.
Those who neglect proper evacuation measures for all employees, visitors, students or the mobility impaired can be found guilty of failing to provide a duty of care and can be charged with corporate manslaughter in work place cases. Pre-planning is therefore essential, ensuring the needs of all employees, visitors or the mobility impaired are identified and a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan, known as a ‘PEEP’ or a ‘GEEP’, (General Emergency Evacuation Plan) is devised by the relevant person responsible to comply with the Fire Safety Order.
The PEEP is tailor-made to secure the safety of the named individuals in the event of a building evacuation. It will explain the method of evacuation detailing the escape routes and identify those persons who will assist carrying out the evacuation and training or practice needs. It will also detail the refuge areas, where the mobility impaired can wait for assistance in evacuating the building safely.
The relevant factors of the PEEP should be to inform the person for whom the PEEP is written of their responsibilities to cooperate; to indicate the actions that will provide for their escape; to establish what actions are required of the individual based upon their level of dependency; and to provide appropriate information to all concerned parties to enable them to carry out their duties in a time conscious manner.
Questions to consider:
- Can my wheelchair users be accommodated with Emergency Evacuation Chairs?
- How might my staff transfer the wheelchair user into an Emergency assistive Device?
- How do I establish if they state they don’t wish to be evacuated by using Evacuation devices?
All very simple questions that wouldn’t want to be addressed during the real event where the fire time-line is being eaten into by every deliberation.
The plan should be tested and used during regular drills, to ensure all staff involved are aware of the procedures and receive a copy of the relevant PEEP. When planning for an emergency in a public access building where mobility impaired or disabled people have total access, a PEEP would not be sufficient. The responsible person would need to devise a GEEP, to accommodate the needs of everyone.
The time required to evacuate a small building that is not a high rise, wouldn’t normally be an issue due to passive fire protection. Therefore high rise buildings can present a number of challenges, the most obvious one being the potential distance needed to take to travel down the stairs to exit the building. These kinds of buildings set themselves apart from others that have a single stair case, due to the time it takes to get down multiple sets of stairs.
Evacuation chairs have proved to be the most efficient and user friendly, enabling the operator and passenger to safely exit the building. Due to more than one person maybe needing assistance other types of evacuation product may be required such as slide sheets, rescue mats, or stretchers, in addition to evacuation chairs. All evacuation aids need to be located in a designated refuge point which is specified in the buildings fire strategy. Each fire exit has to accommodate the able bodied and mobility impaired therefore all equipment has to be readily available and accessible in the refuge point.
In order to comply, the responsible person should obtain professional advice to establish exactly what is required of them. This will involve evaluating each floor in order to determine the quantity of each piece of evacuation equipment and the suitability, with sufficient equipment on each floor to stop people having to re-enter the building to help others.
The key to ensuring you are prepared for any eventuality is to plan regular fire drills, which as a general rule should take place twice a year, where you should practice with your evacuation equipment like the Evac + Chair. An emergency evacuation can happen at any time without warning, so the practice of these fire drills can save time and lives in an emergency.
Planning for an evacuation drill can be difficult, for example, a fire can break out during the early hours of the morning at a hotel. The best way to practice this is to recreate these difficult scenarios at a more appropriate time. Make sure that the staff at these times (which might be limited) are trained, for the most effective and safest way to evacuate those are able bodies and mobility impaired.
For more information on getting a free site survey, please visit www.evac-chair.net