Means of Escape

Once a fire has started, been detected and a warning given, everyone in your premises should be able to escape to a place of total safety unaided and without the help of the fire and rescue service. However, some people with disabilities and others with special needs may need from staff who will need to be designated for the purpose.

Escape routes should be designed to ensure, as far as possible, that any person confronted by fire anywhere in the building, should be able to turn away from it and escape to a place of reasonable safety, e.g. a protected stairway. From there they will be able to go directly to a place of total safety away from the building.

In offices those who require special assistance (e.g. very young children in a crèche and some people with disabilities) could be accommodated on the same level as the final exit from the premises to facilitate escape. Where they need assistance to evacuate, you should make sure that there are sufficient  staff to ensure a speedy evacuation. The level of fire protection that should be given to escape routes will vary depending on the level of risk of fire within the premises and other related factors.

Generally, premises that are simple, consisting of a single storey, will require fairly simple measures to protect the escape routes, compared to a large multi-storey building, which would require a more complex and inter-related system of fire precautions. When determining whether your premises have adequate escape routes, you need to consider a number of factors, including:

  • the type and number of people using the premises;
  • escape time;
  • the age and construction of the premises;
  • the number and complexity of escape routes and exits;
  • whether lifts can or need to be used;
  • the use of phased or delayed alarm evacuation; and
  • assisted means of escape/personal evacuation plans (PEEPS).