Where Should Evacuation Chairs Be Kept in Your Building?
If you’ve invested in an emergency stair chair, or chairs, or you’re considering adding them to your emergency response toolkit, you may be wondering about where to keep them in your building. It’s a great question — and is actually of utmost importance. Emergency chairs are not working to their fullest potential if they’re kept stowed in the basement or in a cloakroom until they’re needed. In fact, their location is nearly as important as owning one in the first place.
Evacuation stair chairs are a crucial tool for any building looking to craft an inclusive response to an emergency evacuation — whether it’s an office, an events space, a hotel, a school, a residential building, or otherwise. They allow for the safe, smooth, and rapid evacuation of individuals who require aid in descending stairs during an emergency, especially when elevators and escalators are out of commission.
Beyond the fact that moving to protect residents and employees during an emergency is an ethical responsibility, there are also pertinent laws for evacuation chairs in Canada. Buildings are required to “ensure, in the prescribed manner, that employees have safe entry to, exit from and occupancy of the workplace.” And in the United States, legislation requires “at least one accessible means of egress is required for every accessible space and at least two accessible means of egress are required where more than one means of egress is required.”
Having emergency evacuation chairs on site is a massive boon to an inclusive response plan — they allow for the safe and efficient evacuation of seniors, disabled individuals, pregnant persons, those using mobility tools and even individuals who may have sustained injuries during the ongoing emergency.
So, where should you keep your evacuation stair chairs, guaranteeing they’re safe until the need arises and convenient when it does?
Here’s how to incorporate your evacuation chairs into your plan and where to store them.
Where Should You Store Your Evacuation Chairs
It’s strongly advised that there’s at least one chair per floor, although this number may increase in buildings with a higher population of individuals who require assistance, like in a hospital or a care home. A thorough risk assessment will help you to solidify your unique requirements.
Chairs should be located close to or in designated refuge points — a refuge point is a pre-identified location where those who require help during an evacuation should await aid. Refuge points are generally located close to the best stairwell for descent during an emergency. The widest stairwell or staircase, with the most gradual gradient of descent, is advised as the most ideal evacuation route when using a stair chair. A chair next to each staircase on each floor is recommended for large buildings with higher populations.
Chairs should be easy to find and easy to access by a fire marshal, a fire warden or the on-site individuals elected to help those awaiting assistance during an evacuation.
Our two evacuation chair models come with a protective cover and a convenient wall mount, allowing the chair to sit as flush and flat as possible against the wall. The chair should be securely affixed, making sure that it keeps evacuation routes clear and that it does not cause an obstruction — both during day-to-day operations and during an evacuation.
Remember to Include Your Stair Chairs in Your Evacuation Plan
Ensure that your emergency response plan describes all the tools that should be deployed during an evacuation — as well as your stair chairs. Your chairs will be an asset during an emergency only if residents and employees know that they exist, where they are located, and who is responsible for deploying them.
A note: take the time in advance to identify people in the building who are willing and able to operate emergency chairs should the need present itself.
Raise Employee Awareness Through Staff Training
Not only should the person(s) responsible for deploying the stair chair(s) be made aware of their location in the building, and how to manage the chair(s), but other team members and tenants should receive training as to their location and on using evacuation chairs properly, too. This is an important measure regardless of the population size of the building.
Training multiple team members through regular, hands-on training sessions provides a secure backup plan in case the originally selected team member or manager is on vacation or off sick in the event of an evacuation.
Our stair chairs are lightweight yet highly durable — making them easy to use, easy to store, and robust.
Operatives should know how to set the chair up quickly and confidently. They should understand how to situate the person in the chair (making sure they’re comfortable), and how to navigate the chair on a flat surface as well as on the stairs.
On flat surfaces, they can be used much like a wheelchair — making it easy to transport the passenger to the allocated muster area or the safe zone where persons congregate once they have safely left the building. In descent mode, on the stairs, tracks on the chair create enough friction to make it easy to manipulate and control — significantly reducing speed and allowing for a controlled decline.
A Properly Located Stair Chair Is an Evacuation Must
Evacuation chairs play a vital role during an emergency evacuation — be it a fire, human threat, a natural disaster, a gas leak or some other event. Depending on the purpose of the building, an evacuation chair located close to the building’s refuge point(s) beside stairwells allows all tenants, clients, employees, and visitors to leave the building efficiently and safely during an emergency.
An evacuation chair can prevent a fatality. As a business owner, manager, or landlord, it’s up to you — both ethically and, in some cases, legally — to take every precaution possible to ensure the safe evacuation of everyone should the need arise.
If you are unsure whether you need an evacuation stair chair or still have questions about where you would locate it, connect with us today. We’re always happy to help you improve your emergency response plan and prepare for any eventuality.