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Fire Safety For All - Working with the Disability Discrimination Act
We recently ran a very popular twitter campaign highlighting the need - to know your fire escape route within your business premises. Under current fire safety legislation it is the responsibility of the person(s) having responsibility for the building to provide a fire safety risk assessment that includes an emergency evacuation plan for all people likely to be in the premises, including disabled people, and how that plan will be implemented.
It is essential that your business is aware of ‘fire safety for all’.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) does not make any change to these requirements: it underpins the current fire safety legislation in England and Wales – the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – by requiring that employers or organisations providing services to the public take responsibility for ensuring that all people, including disabled people, can leave the building they control safely in the event of a fire.
Public bodies have an additional duty, called the Disability Equality Duty (DED), which from December 2006 requires them to proactively promote the equality of disabled people. This will require them to do even more to ensure that disabled people do not face discrimination by not being provided with a safe evacuation plan from a building.

The Fire Risk Assessment guide produced by the government discusses how much focus has been placed on getting disabled individuals into buildings with parking spaces closer, ramps and larger door openings but equally we need to use these in order to get individuals out of a building should it become necessary. Here are some additional points highlighted for your consideration:
  • During your means of escape planning try not to overplay the safety issue to the detriment of the independence and dignity of disabled people.
  • A disabled person may have different capabilities in exceptional circumstances.
  • Reduce unnecessary escapes and false alarms. Some disabled people are placed at a great risk when carry-down procedures are used.
  • All employees should be made aware of all fire safety procedures upon induction.
  • Take into account how your standard evacuation plan affects visitors.
  • As standard always keep escape routes clear and free from obstruction to ensure that exits are readily available.
  • Every one using a building should also take responsibility for their own safety wherever possible and disabled people are no exception, therefore provide a choice of evacuation plans.
  • Train staff on unknown or uncontrolled visitors in the event of a fire.
  • A fully integrated PEEP (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan) system should be an opportunity to improve safety for all.
  • Understand during your planning process that people often make their way to an exit they are familiar with rather than the most suitable escape route then adapt and plan for this accordingly.
  • In some instances, a disabled person may require allocated people to assist and facilitate their escape.
  • Maintain a regular commitment to staff training in the event of a fire.
  • People with learning difficulties may need to practise their routes for escape on a monthly basis.
  • Use the specifications set out in BS 8300 to assist with ‘reasonable adjustments’ that may need to be made to keep your building ‘fire safe for all’.
  • Cater for all types of disability such as mobility impairment, wheelchair users, hearing impaired and deaf people, visually impaired and blind people, people with cognitive disabilities, and unknown requirements.

You can read about this in a lot more detail via the link below but we hope that by highlighting some of the main points to think about you will make sure your business takes everything into account to provide ‘fire safety for all.’


If you have any questions or wish to discuss anything raised within this blog post please contact the communications team
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