1.2. Why A Booklet On Wheelchair Fire Safety?
The tragedy of September 11, 2001, provided us with firsthand examples of
the special evacuation needs of wheelchair users during an emergency.
John Abruzzo, a C-5C-6 quadriplegic who relies on a power wheelchair for
mobility, escaped from the 69th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center
on 9/11. In the first attack on the World Trade Center in February 1993,
John's evacuation took 6 hours, during which his chair was carried from the
69th floor to the 44th floor, where he was then transferred to a stretcher and
finally evacuated from the building.
As they were evacuating with their coworkers from a telecommunications
company at the World Trade Center on 9/11, Michael Benfante and John
Cerqueira met a woman in a wheelchair on the 68th floor. Knowing she'd
never make it out on her own, the men helped her down the stairs. Their trek
ended on the ground floor more than an hour later, and only a few minutes
before the tower collapsed.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are more than 8 million
people 15 years old and over who live with mobility impairments.
By understanding their special evacuation needs, people with limited
mobility and first responders can improve their chances of evacuating their
workplace or home safely. This booklet will emphasize the evacuation
protocol for wheelchair users from these two areas.
This brochure was written for:
- Persons who use wheelchairs or who have limited mobility
- Fire, safety, and building code officials
- Emergency plan coordinators
- Building owners and managers
- Employers and supervisors
- Office fire marshals