Educational premises – such as schools, colleges, universities or academies – often have hundreds, or even thousands, of individuals within them at any one time.
A number of these people may be mobility-impaired, visually-impaired or hearing-impaired and therefore may require special consideration when planning for an emergency.
Being able to account for everyone is vitally important not only to ensure everyone’s safety but also for reasons of inclusivity and to avoid any barriers to education for students of any age and ability.
In order to safeguard the health and safety of everyone within any premises and to comply with regulations, pre-planning for an emergency evacuation is essential.
Who is responsible?
Contrary to popular belief, the safe evacuation of premises, including educational premises, is not the responsibility of the fire service – their primary responsibility is to alleviate the danger of the situation as quickly and safely as possible.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005) clearly outlines that there should be a designated ‘responsible person’ who will ensure that everyone is evacuated quickly and safely in an emergency.
All educational premises should have a Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan (FEEP) which explicitly sets out the responsibilities of members of staff, including who is responsible for the students’ safe evacuation and who is responsible for checking different areas of the building during an evacuation.
Without posing a risk to themselves, it is the responsibility of the staff to ensure that students and/or visitors in their care are able to promptly and safely evacuate a building.
How do you ensure everyone is accounted for?
Firstly, for educational buildings, it is essential that staff have an up-to-date register for pupils. This will ensure that everyone is accounted for following an evacuation. If a pupil is missing, staff are then able to identify this and make a judgement call as to whether it is safe to retrieve them.
To ensure the needs of those who are mobility impaired are adequately accounted for when pre-planning for an emergency evacuation, Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) are essential.
PEEPs should be devised by the relevant person responsible in order to conform with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. These plans ensure there are specific arrangements in place to secure safe evacuation for each individual, be they mobility, visually or hearing impaired.
The ideal PEEP
The ideal General Emergency Evacuation Plan should include: - How the individual will be alerted in the event of an emergency evacuation
The names of those responsible to give assistance in an emergency
The methods of assistance that will be used
Any emergency equipment required and provided
The evacuation procedure
Safe routes to evacuation
Training for an emergency evacuation
During an emergency evacuation, staff are considered fire marshals who are responsible for the safe evacuation of all pupils and visitors, including those with a disability.
Regular practice drills will ensure staff accountable for the safe evacuation of an educational premises understand their responsibilities and are aware of how to fulfil these effectively. Staff should complete refresher training every three years.
Evacuation chairs are proven to be the most effective and user-friendly aids for evacuating people with a mobility or other impairment in the event of an emergency, enabling both the operator and the passenger to efficiently and safely exit the building.
As it’s possible that more than one person will need assistance in evacuating any educational premises, other types of evacuation solutions – such as slide sheets, rescue mats or stretchers – may be required, in addition to evacuation chairs.
All specialist equipment for evacuation should be stored in a designated, readily available and accessible refuge point which will be specified within the building’s FEEP.
How Evac+Chair can help
Evac+Chair is dedicated to ensure the safe, reliable and efficient evacuation support for vulnerable occupants in an evacuation situation.
For advice on training at your education space or a free evacuation site survey, visit Evac+Chair website or call us.