Article by: Jeffery Gross AIA
Member BOMA Fort Lauderdale/Palm Beaches.
“The times are a changin’…” is a line from a song in the 60’s but still valid today. Fire chiefs and fire marshals from many municipalities have for a long time required fire drills and evacuation plans for buildings. Recent occurrences are now prompting officials from the Department of Homeland Security and other organizations to require quick exit plans from structures. Evacuating people with disabilities can even be more challenging. What information should be told and in what format it should be given has raised many questions.
The National Fire Protection Association, NFPA, the same group that publishes the Life Safety Code and other fire and safety standards has an updated guide available. The “Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities” is now available for free and can be downloaded from NFPA’s site at http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/people-at-risk/people-with-disabilities
The guide outlines provisions for those with mobility disabilities, blind or low vision, deaf or hard of hearing, speech disabilities and cognitive disabilities. Government resources and examples of the Scope of the ADA are included in this publication.
An evacuation plan that is inclusive of all individuals in a building is not only the right thing to do, it is something that must be done.