FEATURED ARTICLE DP6) suggest that egress for people with disabilities needs to be considered. The Australian Building Codes Board has recognised the potential role of lifts for evacuation in the advisory (non-mandatory) handbook ‘Lifts Used During Evacuation’ (ABCB, 2013). The use of lifts for evacuation is not a new idea and is recognised to some extent by BCA Performance requirement DP7, and by the requirement for emergency lifts for use by fire services. For this reason, building designers need to consider in the early stage of design the use of lifts as part of building evacuation methods to assist with the vertical evacuation of occupants with disabilities. The use of evacuation aids such as chairs or sheets can be time-consuming and labour-intensive, and place people with disabilities and those who need to assist them at risk for longer than necessary if the building systems do not support their safe evacuation. Emergency refuges are being introduced into some building designs within Australia. These can be separate rooms near exits (typically fire stairs) or enlarged landings in fire stairs that allow sufficient space for a wheelchair without affecting other occupants’ descent. Ideally, refuges should have sufficient fire resistance levels and an intercommunication system linked back to the main fire indicator panel.
planning and building design. All stakeholders involved in building design, maintenance and management should seek appropriate advice on disability access and egress from suitably qualified access consultants, building certifiers, fire engineers and, importantly, people with disabilities themselves.
REFERENCES Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) 2013, Lifts used during evacuation, Non-Mandatory Handbook Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016, 4430.0 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers 2015, viewed 11 November, 2018 Australian Standard (AS) 3745 – 2010 Planning for emergencies in facilities and Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards 2010 Bennetts, I.D. 2018, Evacuation of vulnerable persons by lifts, ASIA PACIFIC FIRE MAGAZINE, Issue 65, April 2018, pp.69-72
Emergency refuges are designed to be a safe place, where people with a disability can wait for assistance from responding firefighters. Pre-incident planning should include consideration of how to inform local firefighters of their existence during an emergency. Ultimately, the only safe place in an emergency is outside the building, so building design and emergency procedures should be focused on ensuring all occupants can evacuate the building in a safe, timely and equitable manner. Reducing risk for employees and community members who are most vulnerable in emergencies means putting people with disabilities at the forefront of emergency October / November 2018