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Means of Escape in Case of Fire

The principle on which means of escape provisions are based is that the time available for escape (an assessment of the length of time between the fire starting and it making the means of escape from the workplace unsafe) is greater than the time needed for escape ( the length of time it will take everyone to evacuate once a fire has been discovered and warning given).

Regardless of the location of a fire, once people are aware of it they should be able to prceed safely along a recognisable escape route, to a place of safety. In order to achieve this, it may be necessary to protect the route, ie by providing fire resistant construction. A protected route may also be necessary in workplaces providing sleeping accommodation or care facilities.

The means of escape is likely to be satisfactory if your workplace is fairly modern and has had building regulation approval or if it has been found satisfactory following a recent inspection by the fire authority (or in each case you have not carried out any significant material or structural alterations or made any change to the use of the workplace). However, you should still carry out a risk assessment to ensure that the means of escape remains adequate.

If as a result of your risk assessment, you propose making any changes to the means of escape, you should consult the fire authority (in Scotland you must seek the agreement of the building control authority) before making any changes.

When assessing the adequacy of the means of escape you will need to take into account:

  • The finding of your fire risk assessment
  • The size of the workplace, it's construction, layout, contents and the number and width of the available escape routes
  • The workplace activity, where people may be situated in the workplace and what they may be doing when a fire occurs
  • The number of people who may be present, and their familiarality with the workplace, and
  • Their ability to escape without assistance.





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