How to Choose Your Evacuation Equipment

how to choose your evac equipment

In the event of an emergency, you must provide a means of escape for everyone in your building – accounting for anyone with mobility impairments. An evacuation chair is the most commonly used in buildings. However, there are other evacuation equipment types available.

What is a PEEP?

A PEEP, or Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan, is a document describing how those with mobility impairments would be evacuated in the event of an emergency. Some individuals may be unable to escape from a building in a timely manner if they are unaided. Others may struggle to respond to the fire alarm.

Who requires a PEEP?

Individuals may require PEEPs for a variety of reasons. For instance, they may have mobility impairments or injuries, sensory impairments (visual/hearing impairments) or other conditions, including mental health related issues.

When determining who requires a PEEP, ask one key question: “Can this individual leave the building unaided in an emergency?”. If the answer is no, they require their own PEEP. Some PEEPs are only needed on a temporary basis – for example, a wheelchair user with a broken leg or someone in their third trimester of a pregnancy.

What does a PEEP entail?

PEEPs must be written specifically for the individual in question, detailing their needs and the buildings they frequent. A PEEP considers the following:

  • What is preventing the individual from responding to the emergency, and how can we help them respond faster or more effectively?
  • How can we get the individual to the assembly point or designated place of safety?
  • What equipment or procedures are required in order for us to help them?
  • Will they require physical assistance with their evacuation?
  • Has their evacuation plan been properly communicated, both to the individual and also to anyone who has been designated to help them?
  • Does the individual feel that the plan we have put in place adequately meets their needs?

How do you choose the best evacuation equipment?

The type of evacuation equipment you choose will depend on a combination of several factors: the layout and characteristics of your building, plus the details provided in your PEEPs.

An evacuation chair is generally a good all-rounder piece of equipment for the majority of individuals requiring assistance with evacuations. However, there are many different kinds of evacuation chairs to choose from – each with their own unique set of compatibilities and benefits.

Manual evacuation chairs slide down the stairs using a track system and it will depend on your stair configuration as to the most suitable.  If you have spiral staircases or stairs with segmented winders, you will likely require an alternative evacuation product. If you need to carry out an upward evacuation – for example those who work in the basement of a building, we would look at powered evacuation equipment to aid with this.

If you have wheelchair users in your building who cannot be transferred from their wheelchair, we may recommend a stair climber that can both ascend and descend on stairs with the wheelchair attached.

If there are many individuals requiring evacuation – for example, in a care setting – you may require other evacuation aids such as drag sheets, mats, and slings.

This is just a very brief overview of the types of products we may recommend. Before we recommend specific products, we look closely at your building to identify the best fit.

Building requirements and differing stair layouts

Staircases

First, we gather as much information as we can about the stairs in your building. This allows us to recommend products that work throughout the entirety of your premises. We will ask questions like:

  • How many sets of stairs are there in your building?
  • Where are your staircases located – inside or outside the building?
  • Are there any spiral staircases or other unusually shaped staircases?

If there are many sets of stairs in your building, or the stairs are unusually shaped, not all evacuation chairs will be fit for purpose and this will have an impact on the products that we recommend.

Other features of your staircases

  • What material is your staircase made from? Is it concrete, tiled, or covered with carpet?
  • Do your staircases have nosings?

We need to know this because evacuation chairs are fitted with track systems. Different track systems work well with stairs made of certain materials, so we need to recommend the best fit for the type of stairs you have.

Landing measurements

In addition to learning about the type and material of your stairs, we also need to consider the measurements of the top and bottom landings, as well as any sub-landings. When we measure, we look to answer:

  • What is the width and depth of the staircase?
  • How much space is there between the handrails (note: this is not the same as the entire footprint of the stairs)
  • How much turning space – if any – is available on the top, bottom and sub- landings on the staircase?

Other features of your building

  • Does your building contain any lifts?
  • If so, does it reach all floors of the building?
  • Does your building have fire lifts? These are not commonly found in buildings but can be used for evacuations if they are present.
  • Is there good wheelchair accessibility across the entirety of your building already? If not, we may recommend a stair climber so that your end users can access all areas of the building on a daily basis.
  • Does the building contain a basement?
  • Are there any narrow doorways?
  • What is the distance to the refuge point? Is there a need to ascend at any point of your journey there?

What if I already have some evacuation equipment on my site?

If you already have suitable evacuation equipment on your site, then acquiring additional units (or upgrading to a newer model) often reduces the need for extensive new training.

This consistency is particularly advantageous for multi-site businesses, where uniformity in evacuation procedures simplifies training and implementation. Similarly, if your business is expanding – either by moving to a larger building or opening a new location – then having the same type of evacuation equipment can streamline your safety protocols.

However, this only applies if the equipment is suitable for use at all your locations. As a completely independent provider of evacuation equipment, our commitment is to recommend the most suitable options for your needs – without bias towards any brand. The safety of your end users is always our top priority.

What happens during an evacuation equipment assessment?

First, we collect initial information from you regarding the characteristics of your building and the requirements of individuals with PEEPs. You can either fill out a form, or we can organise a free on-site assessment at a convenient time.

An evacuation equipment assessment usually takes around 2 hours to carry out, but this does depend on the size of your site and the number of PEEPs. Find out more here.

Assessments made easy with Evacu8

Don’t wait for an emergency to reveal the gaps in your plans. We can help you ensure that your evacuation equipment and strategies are robust and ready for any situation.

Your first evacuation equipment assessment with us is completely free! We are available for assessments across the entirety of mainland UK. Book your evacuation equipment assessment here.