Guidance Regarding Escape Routes

Introduction

This section provides further guidance on the general principles that apply to escape routes and provides examples of typical escape route solutions for a range of common building layouts. The guidance is based on premises of normal risk so if your premises (or part of your premises) are higher (or lower) risk you should adapt the solution accordingly. You are not obliged to adopt any particular solution for escape routes in this section if you prefer to meet the relevant requirement in some other way. If you decide to adopt some alternative arrangement it will need to achieve at least an equivalent level of fire safety

In order to apply the guidance in this section, you need to understand that in any fire situation, the time that people have to escape before they could become affected by the fire is limited. Providing them with sufficient time usually means that as well as having an appropriate way of detecting and giving warning in case of fire, the distance that people have to travel to make their escape to a place of reasonable or total safety must be restricted. The travel distances which are usually appropriate for this purpose (and are suggested later in this section) vary according to the level of risk in the premises (or part of them). To check your escape routes you will need to form a judgement about the level of risk that people may be at after you have taken other risk reduction (preventative and protective) measures.

In premises where there is a likelihood of a fire starting and spreading quickly (or a fire could start and grow without being quickly detected and a warning given) and affect the escape routes before people are able to use them, then the risk should normally be regarded at ‘higher’. Such premises could include those where significant quantities of flammable materials are used or stored; ready sources of ignition are present, e.g. heat producing machinery and processes; premises where significant numbers of the people present are likely to move slowly or be unable to move without assistance; and premises where the construction provides hidden voids or flues through which a fire could quickly spread. In premises where there is a low occupancy level and all the occupants are able bodied and capable of using the means of escape without assistance; very little chance of a fire; few if any highly combustible or flammable materials or other fuels for a fire; fire cannot spread quickly; and will be quickly detected so people will quickly know that a fire has occurred and can make their escape, then the risk can usually be regarded as ‘lower’. In most cases however, the risk will usually be ‘normal’.

The travel distances suggested are not hard and fast rules and should be applied with a degree of flexibility according to the circumstances. For example, in premises where the risk might otherwise be considered ‘normal’ but where there are a significant number of people who move slowly or may need assistance to evacuate, it would usually be appropriate to consider this a ‘higher’ risk. However, where other measures are in place to mitigate this, such as the availability of extra assistance and this has been planned for in your emergency plan, it may be that the risk level can be regarded as ‘normal to higher’. Equally, in premises where the risk category would otherwise be ‘lower’ but for the fact that a small number of occupants may move slowly or need assistance, it may be appropriate to categorise the risk as ‘normal’ in these circumstances. If you are not sure about the level of risk that remains in your premises, you should seek advice from a competent person.







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