One or more evacuation chairs can form a core part of any organisation’s fire safety equipment, designed to aid the quick and safe evacuation from the premises of anyone with a disability or mobility impairment.
Evacuation routes for mobility impaired people
Regardless of the nature of your business or organisation, your fire and emergency evacuation procedures will dictate that you designate emergency evacuation routes from your premises. Where an organisation has to make additional provisions for the evacuation of disabled or mobility impaired staff, customers or patients, one or more of your evacuation routes may be specifically designated for the evacuation of those with special mobility needs.
Accessibility and safe storage
The location of these designated evacuation routes will play a part in your decision about where to store your evacuation chair – it’s vital that such equipment is easily accessible in the event of a fire or other emergency that necessitates evacuation from the premises.
In general, chairs should be stored in or near a fire refuge point. The chair should be quickly accessible by any designated persons, for example, your appointed fire warden or fire marshal, or staff specifically designated to assist in the evacuation of mobility impaired individuals.
At the same time, it is important that the evacuation chair (and any other specialist evacuation equipment) is safely and securely stored so that it does not in itself block evacuation routes or otherwise present a health and safety hazard for others. Fortunately, most evacuation chairs fold flat, and many are supplied with a wall bracket for easy storage.
Planning your evacuation routes
When planning evacuation routes, consideration must be given to the suitability of any individual stairwell to the use of an evacuation chair or other evacuation equipment. The manual provided with your evacuation chair, and any accompanying evacuation chair training sessions, will usually provide specific guidance, but as a rule of thumb, such equipment is often unsuitable for spiral staircases, extremely narrow stairwells or stairs with a very steep gradient.