Means of Escape
When considering the likely consequences of fire, the fire risk assessor needs to take into
account the effects of fire on escape routes; considering how quickly fire could be detected, how quickly it may grow; how it could affect the escape routes; and how quickly people in the building are likely to respond to an alarm.
In general, adequate means of escape are provided if people can immediately, or within a short distance of travel, turn their back on any fire and move away from it to a final exit along smoke-free escape routes.
It is important to consider how many people will use the escape route and make arrangements for disabled or elderly people. The escape route should be as short as possible and the impact of a blocked escape route must be considered. Of course,
precautions should be taken to ensure this does not happen! Emergency lighting and escape route signage should be installed and all employees must be informed and trained in how to escape the building. There are several critical factors in the assessment of
means of escape:
• Maximum distance occupants must travel to reach a place of relative or ultimate safety such as an exit to a protected stairways or a final exit
• Avoidance of long dead ends in which escape is only possible in one direction
• Number, distribution and width of story exits and final exits
• Means of protecting the escape routes from ingress or build up of smoke that might prevent occupants escaping
• Ability of occupants to use the escape routes especially arrangements for people with disabilities In large or complex buildings, the advice of specialists on the adequacy of means of escape will often be necessary