The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Means of Escape Design – Part 108

November 21, 2022 12:03 pm

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 107, LWF discussed the use of escalators during evacuation. In part 108, we cover mechanised walkways and other measures which may be used for means of escape design.

A mechanised walkway may also be known as a moving walkway, moving pavement, travelator or similar. It is a slow-moving, usually flat system of moving people and objects from one area to another on one level. They are commonly seen in large airports to assist people in traversing significant walking distances to the gate from which their flight will depart. They are based on a conveyor mechanism.

Mechanised walkways are usually considered acceptable to form part of a means of escape route, however, the capacity of persons who can pass through the area is calculated based on the assumption the walkway is stationary.

This assumption must be made in case it is unsafe to keep the mechanised walkway operational or should there be a power outage due to the fire which results in it not working. It would not be suitable from a fire safety point of view to calculate the time taken to evacuate based on the increased speed possible when a mechanised walkway is operating.

In some large shopping environments, mechanised walkways are used with magnetic locking systems for trolleys and it is not recommended that these form a part of the means of escape as the locked-in-place trolleys may form obstructions for those attempting to escape.

Other supporting fire safety measures that may be used when designing for means of escape include fire alarms, directional and exit signage, emergency escape lighting, automatic fire detection, automatic fire suppression systems (such as sprinklers), automatic-release security locks and door hold open devices and wayfinding measures.

Consideration should be given to the use of supporting measures in order to maximise the available safe egress time (ASET) from any point in a building to a place of safety outside. It is important that building occupants are able to evacuate a building in acceptable conditions, i.e. without unnecessary hindrance or danger from smoke or fire and with acceptable visibility.

In part 109 of LWF’s series on fire engineering we will begin to discuss fire safety engineering design approaches. 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 since 1986 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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