The concept of Industrial and Commercial Parks, although not new, is becoming more popular for a number of reasons. Proximity to potential suppliers and interested bodies, enhanced security, shared services and increased diversity of customer exposures are some of these reasons.
It is a natural expectation and occurrence, that tenants will also change from time to time, and with such changes, the risk profile in terms of Fire Safety will also change, brought on by the changes in needs, materials and activities specific to each tenant.
Fires that are not rapidly brought under control in the inception phase may result in the spread of heat, flame and various noxious or toxic products of combustion.
Immediate effective attach on a fire is critical in keeping the fire isolated to a specific room or area. Where this is not achieved, escalation of the event needs to be implemented. Within the process of escalation, the possibility for the need of evacuation increases
This plan based partly on best practice concepts published in NFPA 1616, outlines the actions required to ensure an effective and safe evacuation of tenants and general public which may be on site at the time of a fire.
The plan is localized and is phased into three potential stages of evacuation, starting with evacuation of the initial unit involved, escalating to evacuation of a set of buildings and finally if required, evacuation of the entire park.
For any evacuation to succeed in a safe and controlled manner, it is important that each tenant is aware of the process, understands such, and educates and informs their staff as to procedures to be followed in the event of a Fire or similar emergency.
The aims of this publication are
There is no 'average person'. People have different levels of abilities and disabilities. Some of the types of disabilities that you might come across include:
Some people are born with a disability. Others will acquire a disability during their lifetime as a result of a medical condition or an injury. People will not fit into neat categories. The severity of some disabilities or the degree of impact may change over time. For example, a relatively small number of people are completely Deaf from birth, but many more people experience some degree of hearing loss during their lifetime, particularly in older age. Some people will have more than one disability.
Tip: Don't make assumptions about somebody's abilities; there are people with disabilities working in all kinds of roles, including police officers, fire officers and professional athletes.
People come in all shapes, sizes and levels of ability.
Some people will be naturally shorter than others, possibly as a result of a medical condition.
Public buildings and evacuation plans are designed with the needs of people of all ages and sizes in mind. This is not necessarily so in Industrial and Commercial parks where activities wide of “public in general” may be undertaken. In the majority of cases, the risk profiling alertness category of “Asleep and Unaware” will not apply to such industrial or commercial park facilities and can thus be included as an exception rather than as a rule. This may influence options in the design of alarm process.
In any emergency situation, people may react differently to the emergency depending on their abilities or disabilities, their age or their size. This section outlines some typical differences that might happen in
People who are Deaf or have impaired hearing may not hear a traditional fire alarm bell or siren. They may also miss noise coming from a fire or even loud explosions in some cases.
People who have vision impairments may be unable to see fire or smoke, or may not realise that other people are evacuating.
People with intellectual disabilities, cognitive impairments or mental health issues may not understand an emergency warning, like an alarm bell or strobe light, or they may take longer to understand that others. Noisy bells and flashing lights may also cause stress and confusion. Strobe lights can cause seizures for some people.
People may take some time before they start evacuating a building. They might have to raise the alarm or fight a fire locally using fire extinguishers. They might be checking on colleagues or visitors before escaping.
Research on 9/11 World Trade Center evacuations by University of Greenwich noted some people took time to shut down computers, change shoes or go to the bathroom before evacuating the building. Any time taken for these activities is called the Response Time.
Older people and some people with disabilities may take longer to reach a break glass call point than others. People with sensory impairments may take more time to find out what is going on than other people.
Moving around on the same floor or storey is sometimes called 'horizontal movement' by building designers. People with sensory impairments may be slower in moving around a building during emergency situations than other people, particularly if they don't know the escape routes very well. It can be difficult for anyone to communicate during emergency evacuations, with noisy alarm bells, smoke, stress and urgency all causing problems. A Deaf person may find that they are unable to lip-read or use sign language due to smoke or dim lighting. A person with a vision impairment may find that a noisy alarm bell makes it impossible for them to hear instructions. A person with an intellectual disability or mental health issue may find an emergency evacuation to be very stressful, and may not react as expected. Time spent looking for exits and finding the appropriate route can add significantly add to the time taken to get out of a building.
People with mobility impairments can be greatly affected during emergency evacuations. They may find it difficult to move to other areas of their floor when the evacuation happens. This might be due to their personal abilities, such as their speed of walking when using crutches, or their age. It might be due to the situation around them. Perhaps fire doors that are normally held open will close during an emergency. People with impaired mobility may find that crowds rushing around them makes them unsteady. They may need handrails for support on corridors, ramps or stairs and they may need to rest before they reach the assembly point.
The best way to plan for safe evacuation of everybody is through a 'risk assessment' process. A risk assessment involves identifying any hazards or potential dangers, and doing whatever it takes to reduce these risks to an acceptable level. A risk assessment plan is written down, usually forming part of the safety programme of an enterprise or site.
Risk assessments need to be reviewed regularly, particularly when there are changes in the physical environment, the users or the building, legislation or local procedures.
There are a number of pieces of legislation that place a responsibility on public bodies, building owners and employers to ensure the safety, health and welfare of anyone using a particular building. These responsibilities are in addition to the moral duty of care to building users.
It is unlikely that the first version of the evacuation plan will be perfect. Experience with trial evacuations and real evacuations will help to identify any weaknesses in the plan to be fixed.
As part of the Continuous Improvement Programme, it is important to get feedback from everyone involved in the evacuation, including building users, fire wardens, and fire services. Pay particular attention to the feedback from people with disabilities. Use this feedback to improve the plan before the next evacuation.
Plans will also need to be updated as the users of the building change, or the external environment changes or when legislation changes. For example, if an employee breaks a leg and is using a wheelchair or crutches for a few weeks, the evacuation plan should be reviewed to ensure that this employee can evacuate the building safely and with dignity.
If building work on a neighbouring site makes access to an assembly point difficult or impossible for some people, the evacuation plan might need to be revised to use a different assembly point while these works are in progress.
A new tenant potentially brings about changes on two fronts, firstly having new persons involved in the site which would require those persons becoming aware of the plan and understanding the various practicalities of the plan, and secondly, new processes or materials which may or may not, significantly alter the entire plan.
Evacuation planning is an ongoing process that needs regular feedback and review to get it right.
When preparing or revising the evacuation plan, it is important to consider what equipment and facilities are necessary for the building. This section details some of the equipment or facilities that can help to make sure that everybody can evacuate the building safely.
It is important to ensure that people with disabilities will be able to raise the alarm and recognise alarms in emergency situations.
Raising the Alarm:
Call points should be located clear of corners and at an appropriate height to be reachable by all potential users. It is important that these points are known by all occupants, preferably indicated by appropriate signage.
Automatic fire detection systems can be very valuable in addition to manual alarm systems. Fire detection systems are mandated in certain occupancies and will be included in Risk Profile reports. Where mandated, it is important that these are installed and maintained in accordance with relevant standards.
Alternative solutions for raising the alarm include visual alarms, paging systems, and vibrating devices.
Strobe lights can be used to give a visual signal of an emergency situation. Strobe lights are usually red, and are wired up to the emergency alarm control system to flash when required.
Vibrating alerts are particularly useful where noise levels are high and call for hearing protection to be worn. Vibrating alerts are portable devices that are normally linked to the fire alarm system. When the alarm is triggered, these devices provide a vibrating signal to warn the person to evacuate the building. Some of these devices can also provide a flashing light, a text message or an audible tone in addition to the vibrating signal. Some systems allow for different types of paging messages, so they can be used both for emergencies and for general paging. These devices generally use a local area wireless network connected to the fire alarm system. In large buildings, more than one transmitter may be required for full coverage. These systems will need to have a battery backup and fault monitoring to the same standard as the fire alarm system.
Good management systems will need to be in place to ensure that units are maintained, and are kept fully charged. Keep a tight control over the units to make sure that people don't accidentally walk away from the building with the pager in their pocket. These systems are generally useful in buildings where the users are known.
Some fire alarm systems can be integrated with the standard mobile phone SMS text messaging systems. This means that any mobile phone with vibrating alert can be used as a pager. These systems depend on the standard mobile phone network for delivery of the alert message. This network does not always work straight away, so there might be some delay in getting the message to the user. Good management systems will need to be in place to ensure that working phones are available and charged. Be careful when adding new phone numbers to the fire alarm system, as one incorrect digit will mean that the user will not get the relevant message. Some facility should be available to test that numbers have been configured correctly, without setting off a full fire alarm.
Getting out of a building in an evacuation can often be more difficult than usual. Sometimes, the nearest and quickest evacuation route is not the normal exit route from the building. People will generally tend to evacuate along the route used to enter a building, particularly if they are not familiar with the escape route.
For people with disabilities, these problems can be even worse. People with vision impairments may find it hard to see emergency signage or may have difficulties in finding their way when only emergency lighting is available or in smoky conditions.
Emergency signs tell people the best way to leave the building. It is essential that these signs are easily and quickly noticed, and are easily understood.
It is essential that emergency lighting is provided in case of a power failure to the building.
Make sure that the emergency lighting levels are adequate for people with vision impairments. Luminance levels should be at least 0.5 lux at the floor of escape routes and at least 1.0 lux in open areas. As light fittings fade over time, the lighting levels of newly installed systems should be well above the minimum recommended lux levels. Emergency lights must achieve this level within five seconds of a power failure.
Photo-luminescent directional signs on floors are often seen on airplanes but are not currently in common use in buildings. These brightly coloured signs are highly visible in normal conditions. They use a chemical material to absorb and store light. If there is a power failure or other emergency, this energy is slowly released to light up signs or direction indicators. These materials can be located in the floor covering or at low levels on walls to direct people to the nearest exit. They are particularly helpful in smoky conditions, when it might be hard to see signs that are higher up.
Most people think of handrails as something to lean on or provide physical support. Handrails can be also be very helpful along corridors or passageways in guiding people towards exit routes. Take care that the corridor is wide enough to take the handrail without restricting the capacity for people to evacuate.
It is important that handrails contrast visually to the background wall, so that they will stand out clearly for everyone. Use raised detail along the handrail to convey information to people who have impaired vision. This information could be about the floor level, the direction for escape or the location of the refuge areas.
A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) is used per tenant, taking into consideration the unique risk profile and evacuation requirements of each tenant. This plan feeds into the Community plan which includes other tenants which may be affected in the event of an Emergency. Each tenant should have a PEEP to be used to agree and document appropriate evacuation procedures for such tenancy.
Evacuation lifts are designed to continue to operate in the event of a fire. They have special design features to ensure the safety of passengers. Evacuation lifts are the most robust and effective solution for evacuation of people with disabilities from upper levels of a building.
These lifts can eliminate the need for handling, lifting or transferring people with disabilities during evacuations and evacuation drills. They can eliminate the need for fire wardens to have re-enter a building and travel upstairs, against the flow of people coming downstairs, to help with evacuation. They can eliminate the manual handling difficulties and other risks associated with use of these chairs. They can eliminate the risk of people refusing to use evacuation chairs, particularly in open or public buildings.
Some buildings may have fire-fighting lifts, designed to bring fire-fighters and their equipment up to a fire quickly. These lifts can often be used for evacuations before the fire services arrive at the building. Once the fire services arrive at the building, they will normally take over responsibility for controlling any evacuation or fire-fighting lifts and for completing the evacuation of anyone left inside.
It can be dangerous to use lifts that are not specifically designed for emergency use during evacuations.
Evacuation chairs are designed to allow people with disabilities, particularly those with mobility difficulties, to be helped to move down and, in some case, up stairs during an evacuation. These chairs can be used where it is not safe to use lifts to evacuate, and where an evacuation chair is less risky than remaining behind at a refuge area. These chairs usually require one or two operators to guide the chair down the stairs. Evacuation chairs can usually be folded into a compact size, and can be mounted to a wall at or near a stairwell. Most of these chairs require a wheelchair user to transfer out of their own chair into the evacuation chair. A transfer board can help the wheelchair user to safely transfer into the evacuation chair. Evacuation chairs have a load capacity limit, so care must be taken with larger people to make sure that the chair is safe for the intended user.
Some evacuation chairs will allow a wheelchair user to remain in their own chair. These work either by clamping the wheelchair to the evacuation chair, or by allowing the wheelchair user to enter a platform, and then securing the wheelchair to the platform with straps. This ensures a more dignified experience for the wheelchair user, as there is no lifting or personal handling involved. It also means that when they get to the bottom of the stairs, the wheelchair user is still using their own wheelchair, and can move independently from there.
Most evacuation chairs are manually powered, and rely on gravity to move the user down stairs. Some evacuation chairs are battery powered, and can be used to bring somebody upstairs, from a basement level or underground car park. The powered chairs can also be particularly useful when dealing with heavier people. Battery powered devices need to be charged regularly to make sure they are available to use when required.
Some people might be reluctant to use an evacuation chair. This could be because they are not familiar with the chairs, or because they are nervous about any personal handling that might happen while transferring out of their own wheelchair. It could be because they are worried about a particular medical condition or injury. It is important to consult employees or regular building users, to decide how best to evacuate. The agreed approach can be documented in a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP). It may be unsafe to use an evacuation chair given the size, weight or medical condition of the person concerned.
Tip: Don't assume that all wheelchair users can or will use an evacuation chair during an emergency.
When choosing an evacuation chair, consider:
Refuge areas are defined in the Building regulations as follows:
Refuge areas are areas within a building, separated by fire-resisting construction and provided with a safe route to a storey exit, where people with disabilities can await assistance for their evacuation.
There are a number of difficulties with using Refuge Areas as part of evacuation plans:
There are some important points to be considered when Refuge Areas are used as part of an evacuation plan.
All staircases in new buildings should be designed for use by people with disabilities, to provide access to and from the various floor levels in the building. Where a lift is provided, the requirements for the stair design in an existing building are less demanding. The staircase provided for access to the building may not always be the staircase intended for use in an emergency. The requirements for access and evacuation differ. Don't assume that the stairs provided for access automatically meets the needs for evacuation.
The type of emergency evacuation procedure required will normally be decided when a building is designed. This decision will be made based on the layout of the building, the fire safety measures available and the planned usage of the building.
There are three main strategies commonly used:
If an agreed evacuation strategy is to be changed, this may require some construction works to the building structure and the fire safety systems.
As with most management issues, it is important that an evacuation policy is agreed, written down, and signed off by senior management. This is sometimes called an egress policy. The evacuation policy would typically form part of the safety statement.
The evacuation policy should consider any restrictions on access to the building. These restrictions could be general capacity limits relating to all users, or could be specific to people who need additional support during evacuation.
An Evacuation Plan should be developed, based on the Evacuation Policy detailed above. This plan should outline the roles and responsibilities of staff for evacuations. It may well include building floor plans, details of evacuation equipment and routes, and procedures for visitors who may need assistance during evacuation.
Tip: Make sure your evacuation plan considers the needs of new staff, temporary staff and contractors working at the site.
A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (or PEEP) is a tool for agreeing and documenting evacuation arrangements for employees or regular visitors to a building. In an ideal world, PEEPs would not be necessary, as everyone would be able to evacuate safely at the same time. Many of our existing buildings have limitations on how some people can be evacuated. For example, if it is not possible to use lifts during an evacuation, a PEEP may be required to document the alternative arrangements required for a wheelchair user.
The drawing up of a PEEP must be done in partnership with the relevant person affected and needs to have a degree of inbuilt flexibility to allow for exceptional circumstances. The PEEP is essentially an agreement between the management and the individual on what steps will be taken if an emergency evacuation is required.
The PEEP matches the needs of the person with disabilities to the evacuation policy, evacuation plan and relevant facilities. Using a PEEP, it is possible to have assistance pre-arranged through a buddy system, with relevant information about the person’s needs conveyed in advance to the helper.
Employers have legal obligations in relation to health and safety planning and management including evacuation of all employees with disabilities.
Important issues in the development and use of PEEPs include:
While a PEEP is helpful to document the requirements of a known employee or visitor, most organisations need to plan for the evacuation needs of unknown or unexpected visitors. In many buildings, it is impractical or sometimes impossible to check the evacuation requirements of every building user in advance of their arrival. Many existing buildings have limitations on how people with disabilities can evacuate the building. For example, the alarm system may not usable by people with hearing loss.
Put the evacuation plan into practice, by training staff and carrying out trial evacuations.
Trained staff can make a big difference to making sure that an evacuation happens smoothly, safely and quickly. It is important that training is done often enough to ensure that staff can put the training into action when required. Training does not have to take place in a classroom or training room. Practical hands-on training on the stairs or at the lift is critical.
Training methods can include classroom training, eLearning, video presentation, hands-on practice, one-to-one training and mentoring. Make sure that enough staff are trained to cover out-of-hours use of the building, and absences due to turnover, holiday or illness.
Training should include the following topics:
BS 9999: 2008 sets out useful guidelines for running 'Test Evacuations' or evacuation drills. It recommends that these drills are carried out least twice each year. Drills should not be restricted to quiet times or closed hours, as drills need to reflect normal operating conditions where possible.
It is important that any regular users of the building that have disabilities, children and older people are fully included in evacuation drills. It is a good idea to have both announced and unannounced drills to build confidence that staff can react appropriately in a real emergency.
Tip: Practice makes perfect. Evacuation drills are only safe way to test your evacuation plan.
Always hold a detailed review after any drill to make sure to learn from any mistakes. Details of drills should be recorded in the Fire and General register to comply with legislation.
Look for evidence on the effectiveness of the evacuation plan. Good performance could be demonstrated by showing evidence that:
Some examples of measurements that could be of benefit include:
It is important to develop and improve the policy over time. Changes in legislation or the way in which the building is used may require changes to the policy. Performance measures outlined above along with feedback from building users will help to improve the policy