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January 7, 2013 -
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Today's tip comes from Robert Solomon, division manager for Building and Life Safety Codes at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and covers some of the considerations to keep in mind regarding the evacuation of disabled individuals from your facility during fire/life safety events.
Stair descent devices are one way people with disabilities can be evacuated from a building. These devices are defined by the NFPA as portable devices whose rate of descent can be controlled to transport an individual with disabilities. The devices, Solomon says, typically only require one or two people to operate.
Facility managers must also be aware of requirements for "Area of Refuge" spaces. Recent changes to the NFPA codes require a two-way communication system to be provided at elevator lobbies and other areas of refuge, allowing an individual who needs assistance with the elevator to be in contact with first responders and the facility management team, Solomon says.
Elevators are not typically used in fire event evacuations, but are available during other events. However, the 2012 edition of the NFPA codes includes a new section on the use of elevators as part of an evacuation package and planning, Solomon says. The new section, which is not exclusive to people with disabilities, is intended to facilitate the evacuation or relocation of occupants on and in the immediate vicinity of the floor that's on fire.