Do I need an Evacuation Chair in my building?

The evacuation chair is a tool used in the event of a fire alarm to provide a means of escape for disabled or mobility impaired individuals. Having the access to an evacuation chair, as well as the training to operate it, is essential for ensuring that everyone can get out of harm’s way and evacuate the building as quickly and safely as possible.

If you’re a landlord, business owner or employer responsible for a building, taking a closer look at your building or business’s fire safety plan is essential. If you want to ensure that you not only meet the regulatory demands but protect those you are responsible for, it’s important to know whether or not you need an evacuation chair.

What are evac chairs?

As mentioned, the evacuation chair is designed to provide a way to ensure that people with a disability or mobility impairments can be evacuated from the building safely and quickly in the event of a fire emergency. They are most often wheeled chairs with strong metal frames and tracks to allow safe, controlled descents down stairs. They are designed to be used to help anyone who has trouble effectively moving during a fire emergency, including people with a disability, injured people, pregnant women, mental health concerns, or any other medical conditions.

How does an evac chair work?

Evacuation chairs are designed to be strong and lightweight at the same time, so they can support the weight of an adult while still being moved and controlled with ease. When using the stairs, the tracks create friction and slow the descent of the chair. When the chair is no longer necessary or not in use, it can be folded to make it much easier to store on the wall for quick access. Training in the use of these chairs is essential to make sure that they are used in the correct manner during a fire emergency, as well as to ensure that everyone is confident and comfortable when it needs to be used.

Do you need an evac chair?

The person in charge of the building, whether it’s a business owner, employer, or landlord, is responsible under current fire safety regulation for carrying out a fire safety risk assessment. Part of this assessment is working out the procedure and path of an emergency evacuation, which must take disabled people, the elderly, and other vulnerable individuals into consideration.

As part of that safety assessment, evacuation chairs may become a key tool for ensuring the safe and quick evacuation of the building. This includes not only for commercial property that is only used by employees but also for public buildings which are easily accessible to the public.
It is important to note that existing regulation doesn’t name evac chairs specifically. However, if you are unable to provide any means of evacuation for disabled people, people with mental health troubles, pregnant women, and people who may need that assistance, then this could be deemed to be in breach of you legal responsibilities.

Furthermore, government guidelines for fire and safety state evacuation chairs as the preferred means of escape for such individuals, as they do not have a risk of becoming ineffective if the building loses power, which is a risk for other methods like an evacuation lift.

How many evac chairs do I need and where should I place them?

The specifics on the number of evacuation chairs you should install in a building will depend largely on the size and shape of the building. You want to make sure you provide the means of evacuation necessary for everyone but getting a chair for every floor may be expensive and unnecessary. A fire risk assessment working with expert consultants can ensure you have the right amount of evac chairs ready to access. To make sure that they are accessible in an emergency, they should be stored against the wall near the stairs and be highly visible so that a trained individual can quickly make use of them.

Even if you aren’t readily aware of any employees who have a disability or are otherwise mobility impaired, having an evacuation chair can ensure you provide a means of escape for anyone who becomes unable to move, including visitors to the building and business clients.

Get in contact with Fire and Safety Centre today to arrange a site survey to learn more about how many evacuation chairs you need, where they should be placed, and ensure you have trained individuals who can use them.