As the current threat level for international terrorism in the UK is severe, Gerard Wallace from Evac+Chair says now every business owner, nationwide, should ensure they have comprehensive and up-to-date evacuation procedures in place.
Although similar, emergency evacuation procedures caused by security threats, are tailored differently to fire evacuation procedures. For example, evacuating a building to a nearby car park or to a clearly marked evacuation point in a public area isn’t sensible. Neither is evacuating to a location within 500m of a building. It therefore requires the implementation of adapted procedures suitable for this growing threat.
A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan, known as a ‘PEEP’, must also be in place to ensure the needs of all employees and visitors are adhered to. This is of particular importance for those who are mobility-impaired and require additional help when evacuating.
It’s an employer’s responsibility to ensure safe evacuation
As stated in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, it’s no longer the responsibility of the fire service to facilitate evacuation of non-domestic premises, it’s an employer’s. The order emphasises the need for risk reduction and fire prevention, key considerations for any pre-planning.
As a result of this, company owners must ensure their buildings are well-prepared for evacuating all – employees, visitors, students or the mobility-impaired – safely and efficiently.
Alongside coherent and wide-ranging evacuation procedures, trained team members who have undergone practical training in the operation of any evacuation equipment, must be in place.
In addition to fire evacuation procedures, regular drills for the provision of security threats should be held to ensure all staff are familiar with procedures.
Pre-planning is essential
During a security threat, no matter what the circumstance, it can be difficult to stay calm and collected which is why pre-planning is essential in order to anticipate, identify and mitigate any problems with evacuation, especially for those who are mobility-impaired.
The government gives specific recommendations during a terror threat; run, hide, tell. However, not all people can escape from danger quickly so it’s the responsibility of the business owner – also referred to as the responsible person – to ensure safe, fast and easy evacuation for all. The ‘responsible person’ will need to consider:
- Fire detection and warning systems
- Emergency routes and exits
- Fire-fighting equipment
- The removal or safe storage of dangerous substances
- An emergency fire evacuation plan
- The needs of vulnerable people
- Providing information to employees and other people on the premises
- Staff fire safety training
- Emergency evacuation equipment.
This also includes the identification of people at risk such as those with mobility issues or disabilities and the provision of specific training to help these people in any type of emergency evacuation.
A general emergency evacuation plan, known as a ‘GEEP’, for the evacuation in a terror threat must state all the actions needed to be carried out including provisions for the calling of emergency services. This is also to be completed by the ‘responsible person’.
Steps to carrying out the GEEP assessment include:
- Identify any potential hazards
- Identify the people at risk
- Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks
- Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training
- Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly
Under the legislation, the responsible person must develop a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan, known as a ‘PEEP’. The aim of these plans is to provide people who cannot get themselves out of a building unaided during an emergency, with the necessary information to be able to manage their escape from the building.
But it is not just for people with physical disabilities. PEEPs are for anyone who will need help during an evacuation including children, the elderly or frail, anyone with a temporary condition or people who may not be able to use stairs, hear the fire alarm or move quickly which might hinder their escape.
Well thought through PEEPs are important in making our workplaces safe for everybody and demonstrate commitment to improving accessibility.
During the pre-planning stage, difficult questions need to be answered to ensure everyone can evacuate a building safely during an emergency. Questions your responsible person must adhere to in pre-planning are:
- Do we have an emergency evacuation plan?
- Have we considered everyone in our PEEP?
- Do we have the correct evacuation equipment which can ensure everyone’s safety?
- Do we have a trained, incident response team?
- Do we have regular evacuation drills to check our procedures?
Assisted equipment ensuring the vulnerable are safe during evacuation
It’s a legal requirement for business owners to provide a means of escape for everybody using their buildings. All evacuation aids must be in a designated refuge point. Undoubtedly, evacuation chairs have proved to be the most efficient and user-friendly as they enable the operator and passenger to safely exit the building quickly and efficiently.
It was during one of the most devastating terrorist incidents of the 21st century that an Evac+Chair carried John Abruzzo – a C 5-6 quadriplegic who relies on an electric wheelchair for mobility – from the 69th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center on 11th September 2001, to safety.
In addition to evacuation chairs, many types of evacuation products may be required such as slide sheets, rescue mats or stretchers to meet different requirements. This means that specially-trained staff need to be in place, something which Evac+Chair provides.
Evac+Chair offers advice that extends beyond the provision of stairway descent equipment to include initial site surveys, staff consultation and Evac+Chair equipment training. This is vital when ensuring the safe evacuation of mobility-impaired people in an emergency.
Where lifts shouldn’t be used, light-weight, easy to use Evac+Chairs offer an effective stairway descent to ensure a safe exit from tall buildings in any emergency. The Evac+Chair folds away and is wall-mounted complying with current health and safety and fire regulations.
By providing this information and all the right equipment, Evac+Chair International continues to emphasise the importance of emergency evacuation training to ensure all workplaces are prepared for a terror threat
For more information, go to www.evacchair.co.uk