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  • Alternative Fire Evacuation
    Updated On: Feb 16, 2011


    Considerations For Those Who Cannot Use Stairs

    When stairs are required for emergency exit, those persons unable to use stairs need to have a special fire emergency plan. The following fire evacuation guidelines are provided for indi­viduals in buildings which do not have designated areas of evacuation assistance.


    In the event that a fire alarm is activated or a fire emergency occurs, those   persons unable to use exit stairs will need to find an area of refuge on the floor they are on. They should then wait in the area of refuge for assistance from arriving fire fighters.


    Each floor of a building is likely to have multiple places that may serve as an area  of refuge during a fire emergency. An ideal area of refuge would be an enclosed room - near an exit stairwell - that has a door, a window and a telephone. Examples would be an office, a conference room or a classroom located close to an exit stairwell. The door, when closed, provides a barrier to smoke which may be present in the build­ing. The window offers a second route of emergency exit once fire fighters arrive. The telephone provides a backup method of calling for assistance.


    It is important that Fire Department personnel be notified immediately upon their arrival of the location of any known occupants in the build­ing. Firefighters will then assist in the evacuation of these individuals.


    The building’s fire emergency plan should describe the procedures to be followed by those people unable to use exit stairs. It should include how to determine an area of refuge, suggest possible areas of refuge within the building, and describe the fire survival rules to be followed. Fire evacuation behaviors should also be practiced during fire drills.


    An additional area that may be used for refuge is an enclosed stairwell. This is possible if there is only one individual seeking refuge and if they have two ambulatory assistants to remain with them. Once in the stairwell, with the door securely closed, they should wait for fire depart­ment help. Only if conditions deteriorate and become threaten­ing, should the assistants carry the individual down the stairs to a safer area.



    Occupants of residential buildings may use their apartment or living unit as an area of refuge. During a fire emergency, occupants unable to use exit stairs should stay in their unit with the door shut and wait for help from Fire Department personnel.


    Residents who choose to stay in their units should be identified to the responding fire fighters immediately upon their arrival. One way this can be done is by maintaining a roster at the fire alarm panel of residents who plan to stay in their rooms. This roster is then provided to the fire fight­ers upon their arrival.

    Survival Rules

    Once you have reached your chosen area of refuge, observe the following survival rules:


    «    Keep the door to the room closed. A closed door is a barrier to smoke.

    «    Use towels or clothing to block openings around doors or vents where smoke might enter.

    «    Place a signal in the window. The signal can be anything that will call attention to your location.

    «    If smoke or fire enters your unit, call 9-1-1 to report your loca­tion. Stay low to the floor to breathe the best air. Put a wet cloth over your mouth or nose.

    «    It is not advisable to open or break windows. Smoke from the outside of the building can enter through open windows. Break­ing windows will put you at great risk to smoke entering from the outside, and will hamper rescue efforts below.


    Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility...


    Fire Stops With You!


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