4 Reasons to Service Your Evacuation Chair

24 March 2016

Many people assume that once they've bought an evacuation chair they're sorted for fire safety. Maybe you had an emergency that you weren't as prepared for as you thought; maybe you simply had a risk assessment point out the dangers of your current evacuation plan. In any case, you've bought yourself and evacuation chair and that's everything sorted right? Wrong.

Evacuation chairs are built to withstand a lot – they’re being pushed down stairs in the middle of an emergency, after all. They cannot withstand the ravages of time though and, like us, must be looked after if they are to last.

With any luck, your chair will never be used in a real emergency. Just as you check your fire extinguishers and safety equipment, you should regularly inspect your chair for damage. Slip it into your drill scenarios every six months and you’re already working to extend the life of your chair – regular use is the best solution for stopping problems in their tracks.

Talking of which, the deterioration of tracks on evacuation chairs accounts for approximately 90% of damage and by not using your chair, you can place strain on specific areas of the tracks. This accelerates the process of deterioration and causes the rubber to perish, making the chair unsuitable for use in an emergency scenario. Not using or checking your chair also undermines the warranty, leaving you up the stairs with no escape and nothing you can do about it.

Use does not detract from the need for servicing; certain brands like Evacusafe offer a visual inspection checklist so you can check the chair yourself but the option is available for those who prefer the experts handle it.

Apart from common sense – equipment needs maintenance the way humans need food – here are four reasons to convince you services are required and worthwhile.

1. Death

It sounds dramatic, for sure, but imagine this: you think you have the equipment and load Mavis with the broken leg onto the evacuation chair while the alarms blare. You haven’t checked it, so you don’t notice the rubber has worn and can no longer grip the stairs. You’re out of control and Mavis zips down the stairs like a rollercoaster with no safety straps. Maybe she breaks the other leg; maybe she injures herself in a worse way.

Perhaps as you go to unfold your previously-unused evacuation chair at the top of the stairs, you realise that it’s seized up, won’t open and there is no way down for poor Mavis as flames lick up the side of the building. While it is unlikely that you'll find yourself in such a situation, if you service your chair these situations will never happen.

2. The Law

Technically, it’s not the law per se to have a working evacuation chair. But the PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) legislation act of 1998 states the following:

`PUWER requires that equipment provided for use at work is safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate.`

If you have the chair, you also have a legal onus to maintain it. If not, why bother obtaining it in the first place – you’re still going against the legislation and landing yourself in trouble if something happens.

3. Money, Money, Money

The cost of servicing may seem like a financial burden, but this is nothing when compared with the cost of having to buy a new chair, especially if this is due to not having your existing chair properly inspected. When properly maintained, evacuation chairs can last for up to decades and although they may need a few replacement parts (for instance on the rubber tracks) they provide a fantastic return on investment when compared with unserviced chairs.

On top of the cost of buying new chairs, you've got to consider the cost of fines. The fire service rescue people, they don’t evacuate them – that is your job. If you have the chair but it is not in a working condition because of lack of maintenance, you are liable to be fined. Both the failure to properly manage fire safety arrangements and lack of equipment can result in a fine of £30,000 plus depending on the situation. And at roughly £80 to get the chair properly serviced, this would mean that you would have to have a service a year for 375 years to match the cost of a single fine.

4. Common Sense

Just as any car needs an MOT to ensure that it is up to snuff, to remain safe to use, your evacuation chair needs servicing. Whether this means following a visual guide, checking the rubber tracking, using the chair in training scenarios or getting a professional to service your chair, it can all save lives.

Hopefully by the time you have reached this point, you are reaching for the phone to book your service. If, for example, the tracks have worn, a single replacement part can extend the life of your chair by years.

So if you were in any doubt before about the benefits of servicing your chair, hopefully they've been dispelled now. Make sure that you add an annual service to your standard fire safety practices!

Have an explore on Evacuation Chair Shop for further information about Evacuation Chair Services.