Evac+Chair International: People-centred evacuation plans must be a priority
“Every September, we remember those who lost their lives in the World Trade Center almost 20 years ago. Evac+Chairs played a role in saving occupants of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and one of the chairs is featured in the memorial museum at Ground Zero,” explains Ian Thompson, of Evac+Chair International.
“It is a reminder of how challenging it must be for those who are mobility impaired to leave a building in an emergency. Even one flight of stairs can be a critical barrier to exit, with potentially devastating consequences.
“There are thousands of other buildings around the world that have happily made themselves accessible to disabled people, but not thought about how those same people could make an escape in the event of an emergency, such as fire. This needs to change.
“Whether retrofitting an older building, or planning the construction of a state-of-the art high rise hotel or office block, everyone from architects and specifiers, through to facilities, HR and health & safety managers need to address the challenge of protecting all building users.
“The focus in buildings is mostly on preventing and detecting fires, but as the Grenfell Fire showed, more thought needs to go into evacuating people safely in an emergency. People should always be central to that plan, including training those that will implement it or take ultimate responsibility,” concludes Ian.