The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Means of Escape Design – Part 104

October 24, 2022 11:05 am

LWF’s Fire Safety Engineering blog series is written for Architects, building designers and others in the construction industry to highlight and promote discussion on all topics around fire engineering. In part 103, LWF looked at means of escape provision for people with disabilities and the use of refuges. In part 104, we will discuss the needs of mobility-impaired people, blind and partially-sighted people, hearing-impaired and deaf people and those people who have learning and/or cognitive disabilities.

When considering the fire safety needs of people with disabilities for means of escape design and provision, focus often tends to fall on wheelchair users. However, there are other types of disability which can make it hard for the person to escape and their particular needs should be considered and catered for.

Mobility-impaired people may include those in wheelchairs and those persons who are only able to manage a few steps in an emergency situation. These people will need access to:

  • Suitable continuous handrails on steps
  • Suitable goings and risers of stairs
  • Places to rest along the escape route which do not block the escape route for others
  • Early warning of fire
  • Building layout knowledge to ensure most appropriate direction of travel
  • Evacuation lifts – under management or Fire Service control

People who are blind or partially-sighted may have difficulty navigating the escape route and may not be able to see illuminated signs. These people will need:

  • Suitable continuous handrails on steps
  • Tactile and visual markings
  • Clear information about the fire situation and escape route
  • Wider escape routes to facilitate assistance from other persons

People who are hearing-impaired or deaf will not necessarily be able to hear the fire alarm or the instructions of those attempting to help. They will need:

  • A strong visual indication that there is an emergency
  • Clear written information regarding escape route and procedures

Often people may suffer with conditions that impair their mobility, or are temporarily mobility-limited. Such conditions may include asthma, heart disease, and pregnancy. These people need:

  • A smoke-free protected route from the building to safety
  • Places to rest along the escape route where they will not block the route for others
  • Wider escape routes to facilitate assistance from other persons

People with learning difficulties and cognitive disabilities may have additional needs when evacuating a building in a fire situation, such as:

  • Clear identification of escape routes
  • Clear information on procedures

In part 105 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will discuss lifts, including evacuation lifts and lift lobbies. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact the LWF office on 0800 410 1130.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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