Where do we house disabled persons during an emergency? Stairwells? Areas of Refuge? Help!!

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Well, we see this a lot.  What we don’t see much of is – compassion.  Remember, you are dealing with human lives and not just checking off a task in your emergency checklist.

First, many companies will simply write into their emergency plan to move disabled folks into a stairwell or elevator lobby and leave them there until help arrives.  Whether or not this is a good idea, this is called an Area of Refuge.

Areas of Refuge are defined and do require certain elements to be considered Areas of Refuge. First, these need to be designed with a method of communication, a line of sight etc…..  The area will be designated and was most likely designed when the building was constructed.  The area of refuge  is governed by Title 24, California Building Code Sections 202, 1007.6, 1102b and 1002 (not available online), the ADAAG Section 4.3.11.4 and Title 19 State Fire Marshall.

If you are going to write these areas in your plan, you best check with the local fire authority, your architect and the like. Don’t just pick a stairwell landing and call it an Area of Refuge.

In addition, you may want to consider some evac chairs such as Stryker.  This will give you the opportunity to evacuate people and not have to worry about leaving them in an Area of Refuge.

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