Factsheet 03 - Fire Egress updated Nov 09 by asafwewe


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									London Borough of Newham
Regeneration, Planning and Property

Designing inclusive environments
- an advisory note for developers

Factsheet 03 - Fire Egress                                                                 updated Nov 09

London Borough of Newham is committed to making Newham an inclusive and desirable place
for people to live, work and visit. This means designing and creating inclusive and accessible
new buildings and environments that everyone is equally able to use and enjoy, including people
with physical, sensory, learning or cognitive impairments or disabilities. Access is therefore a
significant consideration in determining a planning application and applicants are encouraged
to fully consider accessibility and inclusive design principles from the outset. This factsheet
provides guidance and sources of additional information.
Emergency evacuation considerations are an important consideration and all organisations must
specifically address emergency egress arrangements for people with disabilities or impairments. The
most appropriate time to consider this is at the design stage.
There is a duty to ensure that all building occupants, including disabled employees, staff and visitors,
can escape safely. In addition to initiating policy and procedures for egress, good communication and
regular reviews of procedures are essential in order to maintain this. Disabled people may take much
longer to evacuate to a place of safety and this should be taken into account in emergency evacuation
planning and the design of fire evacuation routes and methodologies. The following items should be
Escape Routes
Handrails and stair nosings that are contrasted against adjacent finishes are significant aids to people
with visual impairments and elderly people, and will help anyone in a poorly lit or smoky atmosphere.
Handrails should extend a minimum of 300mm beyond stair edges and generally should continue
across landings - the latter is an important tool for wayfinding when visibility is impaired for whatever
People with impaired visual acuity, either through disability or dyslexia, dropped spectacles or
temporary impairment caused by smoke, will benefit from supplementary wayfinding systems in
addition to statutory fire signs. Luminescent strips or LED lights at low level are particularly helpful
to everyone in highlighting a safe route. Colour coding of escape routes has been shown to be
particularly effective where occupants have learning difficulties or find themselves under stress.
It is important to indicate the correct route of escape for a mobility impaired person where this differs
from other routes, but there is no formally accepted statutory sign for this at the present time. Some
fire officers have accepted a combination of standard fire exit signs with the universally accepted
wheelchair user symbol to indicate the most appropriate escape route for people needing step free
egress or assistance. In addition to signs, procedures for evacuation should be displayed clearly at key
points on the escape route.
People with Hearing Loss
Where deaf or hard of hearing people may be in isolation or away from other people, they should be
provided with a vibrating pager linked into the fire alarm system to warn of the need to evacuate. The
pager should be in addition to a visual alarm system wherever practicable.
Where occupants may sleep in the building, it must be recognised that reaction, and hence evacuation
times, will be much longer. People are likely to be disorientated by the alarm and may not be able to
identify the route of escape readily. For deaf and hard of hearing persons, vibrating under pillow or
mattress alarms are essential to ensure that they are woken in an emergency.
Although lifts provide easy access for wheelchair users, most are not suitable for use in a fire
emergency, as they are not designed with adequate fire compartmentation, duplicate power supply
etc, to be deemed safe for evacuation. Where a fire evacuation lift does exist, people unable to use
stairs may be directed to this. Sometimes the evacuation lift and escape stair may be in different
directions but supplementary signage and a public address system will facilitate verbal and visual
Refuges must be provided at each floor level on every escape stairway, even where a fire evacuation
lift is provided (In an existing building where insufficient space is available in stairways, a secondary
protected area with direct access to the stairs may be a reasonable solution).
A single refuge should be a minimum of 900x1400mm but larger areas may be appropriate for some
occupancy types. Refuges must be protected from the effects of smoke and other products of
combustion, with self-closing fire doors and a minimum fire resistance of 30 minutes.
The refuge and escape route should be visually linked and there must be a means of two-way
visual and audio communication provided between the refuge and the building’s control room or an
alternative manned facility.
Horizontal Evacuation
In larger buildings or linked facilities, it may be possible to plan horizontal evacuation routes to an area
with separate fire compartmentation away from the source of the fire. A secondary refuge/safe waiting
area can be provided in such a location, which can be used for a short period until further information
on the fire risk is obtained and/or facilitating escape to an ultimate place of final safety.
Assisted Evacuation
Not all disabled people are willing or able to be evacuated using an evacuation chair. For people with
very little muscular control an evacuation chair can be very dangerous. Where provided, evacuation
chairs should be sited in or adjacent to refuges or escape stairs (but not obstructing evacuation
routes). Assistants must be properly trained in the use of evacuation chairs and undertaking a dynamic
risk assessment, to avoid injury to themselves and the person they are trying to help.
Personal Emergency Egress Plans
Personal Emergency Egress Plans (PEEPs) are required for people regularly occupying the building
who may need assistance. The PEEP takes account of individual needs and highlights the requirement
for assistive devices, assistance or buddying arrangements – a well thought through strategy will
match the needs of the individual against the capability of the building/s occupied and identify any
shortfall. A PEEP specifies the exact procedures required to assist a disabled individual to egress from
the building and its existence should give the disabled person confidence that his/her needs for safe
egress have been properly addressed. A PEEP can also be developed for someone with a temporary
impairment eg. a sports injury and generic plans should be developed for visitors (GEEP).
A management system will be needed to ensure that PEEPs are reviewed and updated whenever
staff change, structural changes are made to the building or a change occurs in a disabled person’s
requirements (some disabilities are progressive and needs will alter over time). PEEPS should be part
of the overall fire strategy and Fire Safety Plan.
For further info, please contact ENV-accessadvisor@newham.gov.uk
Relevant Legislation and sources of information: Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005
BS9999: 2008 Code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings
Fire Safety Risk Assessment Means of Escape for Disabled People Supplementary Guide 2007 ISBN
13 978 1 85112873 7 (downloadable free from Dept Communities & Local Government website)
Approved Document to the Building Regulations Part B (2006) and Part M (2004)

For more information please contact:
Development Control                                            For alternative formats and
Newham Dockside, 1000 Dockside Road                            other languages telephone:
London E16 2QU
or email: ENV-accessadvisor@newham.gov.uk                             0800 952 0119

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