Safe Evacuation Guide – including guidance for less-able bodied persons

This guidance has been prepared to provide general guidance to our customers, hopefully this will help you review your internal procedures to ensure the safe evacuation your staff, customers, residents and visitors from your premises, including those who may require assistance to leave the building in an emergency situation.

This guidance is NOT exhaustive, and does not describe all the necessary precautions you need to take. It is your responsibility to identify the risks and put appropriate controls in place and provide suitable training of your staff. We suggest you complete a formal Risk Assessment.

  • Undertake a Risk Assessment & develop a policy/safe working procedure.
  • If necessary, develop a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) – this is a plan tailored to accommodate the needs of those with disabilities.
  • Ensure appropriate persons are trained in these plans/procedures.
  • Have you trained all employees in general fire safety awareness? Do they know how to prevent fires and what to do if a fire breaks out?
  • Inform all staff where all the escape routes are and where the assembly point is.
  • How you will alert people if there is a fire, taking into account those who are hard of hearing or deaf? If you do not have a fixed fire alarm consider an alternative such as a horn or bell
  • Hopefully persons requiring assistance will contact a member of your staff to arrange and discuss an agreed fire evacuation plan. Ensure your staff are trained to identify any persons obviously requiring assistance.
  • Speak to the person concerned and agree a procedure for their safe evacuation
  • Make sure you consider persons who have temporary impaired mobility
  • Implement measures into the premises fire evacuation procedures and update fire action plans
  • Try to find an appropriate work space or living accommodation for less-able bodied persons, if this is reasonably practical, provide at ground floor level, as this will help make evacuation easier to achieve by avoiding the need to use stairs or lifts. They may be able to evacuate themselves without further assistance.
  • If persons are located on upper floors, ensure stairways and corridors to be kept free from obstruction.
  • Do you need to designate a refuge area?
  • Persons should be able reach a protected enclosure/refuge within a defined travel distance and within two minutes.
  • Whilst the majority of persons can achieve this independently, a member of staff should escort those persons who may require assistance to a refuge. Once all able-bodied persons have evacuated the building, the person requiring assistance can be evacuated in a controlled and safe manner.
  • Identify the need for and arrange the provision of any necessary equipment – such as evacuation chairs – https://www.firesafetycompliance.co.uk/43-evacuation-chairs
  • Arrange regular staff training in the procedures and use of equipment
  • The use of a normal passenger lifts for evacuation purposes should not be permitted, as it is possible that persons may become trapped within the lift itself. The only type of lift, which can be used for evacuation purposes, is a fire-fighting lift or an evacuation lift designed and installed in compliance with the relevant British Standards.
  • Think about whether a ‘buddy system’ is appropriate for less-able bodied persons
  • Designate a fire warden/marshal, whose duty will be implementing certain fire safety measures, having knowledge of fire prevention, and fighting fires where possible.
  • Provide suitable Fire-fighting equipment– there should be plenty of fire extinguishers, of varying types where appropriate, around the workplace in easy-to-access locations.
  • Provide Clearly marked the escape routes that lead to a safe location and ensure that they are as short and direct as possible.
  • Fire Safety signs. – People with impaired vision or colour perception may experience difficulty in seeing or recognising fire safety signs. Fire safety signs should be sufficiently large and well designed with a good, clear typeface and sited so that they can be seen easily and are readily distinguishable.
  • Inform everyone of where the assembly point is and instruct them to go only there in the event of a fire. A sign should indicate where it is.
  • Plan how/who will contact the fire brigade or other emergency services – you should plan how they will be called and who will be responsible for doing so.
  • Establish a programme of inspection and maintenance to ensure that all equipment and fire doors function properly and that any defects are immediately identified and addressed.
  • Continue to assess and review evacuation procedures in premises under their control to which disabled persons have access.
  • When everyone is gathered at the assembly point, undertake a roll-call – you must have a system for determining who is present and who may still be in the building.

Further guidance is available here – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-risk-assessment-means-of-escape-for-disabled-people