Everything you need to know about Disabled Refuge Systems
What is a Disabled Refuge System?
A Disabled Refuge system comprises of multiple refuge points and a central control panel. A disabled refuge point in where a person can temporarily wait in a fire emergency. At each point, there is a button which the user can press which alerts the fire fighters of where in the building they are.
They also have a speaker and microphone built in. From the control panel, the fire fighter picks up the phone and can then communicate with the person at the refuge point. The user can then have hands free communication with the fire fighter.
This ensures that the person is updated on the situation and can be re-assured that help is on its way. Users can include the physically impaired, wheelchair users and pregnant ladies. It can be used by anyone who requires assistance to leave the building and get to safety.
When do you need a Disabled Refuge system installing at your premises?
The Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and the Equality Act (2010) both state that there can be no discrimination and so access to businesses has to be available to everyone. The responsibility of ensuring the building meets the criteria is solely reliant on the business owner.
Therefore, if a building has more than one floor, you should provide a means of refuge for anyone who isn’t able to evacuate through a fire escape easily via stairs.
Where should refuge areas be located?
Refuge areas should be in specific locations around the building, such as by a fire exit. There must be a refuge point on each floor where fire exits can’t be accessed by a disabled person.
They must only be situated in zones where there is sufficient space for a wheelchair user without blocking the escape route for other individuals in an emergency. Additionally, there should be a minimum of thirty minutes fire-resisting separation.
Refuge areas should have clear signage leading towards the area and the opening pressure for doors into the area shouldn’t exceed 20 newtons opening in the opposite direction of travel, and 30 newtons opening in the direction of travel.