HomeFire Safety for Wheelchair UsersFire Safety Protocols and ProceduresDevelop An Evacuation Plan

4.1. Develop An Evacuation Plan

Establish a relationship with the fire department or other first responders that would respond to your home or business in the event of a fire or other emergency. The relationship should include:

Developing an evacuation plan with the fire department.
Reviewing the plan with the fire department at least once per year.
Practicing the evacuation plan throughout the year.

Employers, in turn, should review evacuation plans annually, and practice and evaluate them regularly. Even a brief discussion during a staff meeting can help to remind everyone what he or she needs to do. Ultimately, a solid level of preparedness should become part of the fabric of the facility.

Be sure to develop a floor plan that can be shared with people who utilize the building or posted in a public place.

Any evacuation plan should incorporate the following:

Know the locations of your usable exits on the grade level of the building and how to get to them.

Once outside, determine if a wheelchair user can get to a "public way" that is a safe distance away from the building and identify a safe meeting place.

Earlier, this brochure described a protected area for people with limited mobility outside the exit door. In many office buildings, even exits on the grade level of the building are elevated above the adjoining grade. In these instances, landings beyond the exit door should be reviewed to determine if they are adequate to accommodate a wheelchair user. Simply measure the landing. The clear floor space needed for a wheelchair user is 30 inches by 48 inches, but keep in mind that this area must be located beyond the swing of the exit door and clear of the exit path that others will use.

Establish a Floor Warden System ––these individuals are responsible for overseeing and coordinating evacuation activities, conducting a final pass through the office space, ensuring that everyone receives the necessary assistance as appropriate, ensuring all doors to the elevator lobby are closed, and reporting the floor evacuation status to the first fire or emergency officials arriving on the scene.

When the alarm goes off , the Floor Warden should immediately verify circumstances and inform the person with a disability accordingly. It is of great importance to designate an alternate Floor Warden in the instance when the initial designee is absent. The names of these designated individuals should be updated and posted on a regular basis.

Identify a location or locations for an area of refuge ––In the event of a need for evacuation from an upper floor, wheelchair users should make their way, either accompanied or on their own, to a designated area of refuge or other place of safety on the same floor (e.g., a closed staircase landing as described earlier). They should inform their supervisor, a colleague, or other available person that they will remain in that place of safety and wait for assistance. Two-way radios or a telephone in these areas should be provided to ensure that communication is available. The supervisor or other designated person should inform the first fire or emergency officials arriving on the scene of the person"s location.

Evaluate the need for evacuation devices from upper and lower floors. If used, their location(s) should be identified and their use should be practiced during regularly scheduled drills.
The use of evacuation devices can be directed through the installation of signage (e.g., individuals using evacuation chairs must use the east stairwell next to the men"s room).

Practice dealing with different circumstances and unforeseen situations, such as blocked paths or exits.

Remember never to open doors that are hot.

Ensure that all workers, including those on other shifts and those who are at the site after typical hours (e.g., cleaning crews, evening meeting coordinators, etc.) are aware of wheelchair users who are typically in the building. Such off-hour employees should be involved in fire emergency drill.


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