Even if you have a lift in your building, you will definitely need an evacuation chair. The reason being that it is forbidden practice to use a lift during the event of a fire, fire alarm, or even a fire drill. Therefore, you must make sure that in the event of an emergency, that all people in the building, regardless of their mobility status, have access to a safe exit.
Definition of an evacuation chair
A piece of evacuation equipment that assists those with mobility issues to ascend or descend stairs more effectively in the event of an emergency.
Who are evacuation chairs for?
You might assume that evacuation chairs are just for wheelchair users or injured, but there are others to consider in the event of an emergency including:
People with arthritis or other such joint related problems especially in the knees or hips
People with visual impairment
The elderly or infirm
Anyone who has trouble descending stairs rapidly
How do evacuation chairs work?
In the UK all evacuation chairs require at least one person to operate whilst a person with mobility issues sits in it. Some chairs require two people to operate. The chair itself uses the weight of the person seated as leverage and the operator is required to ensure that the chair moves down the stairs at a controlled speed. Once at the bottom of the stairs, the chair can then double up as a temporary wheelchair to allow a swift exit away from danger. Training is very important prior to using evacuation chairs particularly to prevent panic when in an emergency situation.
Quantity of evacuation chairs?
In your fire risk assessment, it should state how many evacuation chairs are needed as it depends on the number of people that you have in your building that might need them. For example, a hospital, hospice or care home will need more than a usual office building. It also depends on the design of the building, including the number of stairs, lifts and fire safety refuge areas and exits. Check the evacuation plans for your building in your risk assessment to see where the chairs should be located. This is usually near to the people that need them the most yet usually it is advise to place them at the top of every stairwell or exit.
Remember whatever the situation, the bottom line is to make sure that everyone in the building is able to exit safely in an emergency.