What is an Evacuation Chair?

24 March 2016

The Fire Regulatory Reform Act 2005 states it is the responsibility of business owners to ensure an evacuation plan is in place for everyone potentially in the building. This includes staff members and even the public depending on your specific situation. It also means having an evacuation plan that takes into account those who are disabled, injured, pregnant or suffering from an illness that impacts their mobility.

The Equality Act 2010 prevents discrimination against a person with a disability, whether it is a physical or mental impairment. Floor access cannot be denied to someone because of a disability, even if they cannot walk down the stairs in an emergency. If they can't reach the upper levels, reasonable actions must be taken to rectify that.

The two acts may seem incompatible with each other. Lifts are out of action or not advisable during an emergency, so how do you safely evacuate a wheelchair user from the top floor in a crisis?

The answer is simple: an evacuation chair.

What is an Evacuation Chair?

Put broadly, an evacuation chair is a glorified wheelchair that can safely transport people down (and in certain cases up) stairs. A wide range of chairs are available; downstairs, upstairs and even spiral staircases can be tackled with the right equipment. For the majority, a cost-effective and economical chair is suitable, ideal for standard staircases and the transportation of most people. But whatever your stair type, there is an evacuation chair available.

Some chairs have two wheels, others four which affects their performance on a flat surface. All operate on the same principle though: they rest back on a rubber track that grips the stairs. This allows a controlled descent down the stairs and to safety. The angles and track means the operator never has to take the full weight of the user, letting the chair do the work and making it suitable for anyone of any size to operate, regardless of who the user is.

Who is Responsible for Evacuation Chairs?

No business, large or small, is exempt from fire safety regulations and prominent businesses have suffered from fines and legal action over the years due to their failure to comply.

The boss is responsible for the safety of his or her staff, whether the business owns the building, hires it or occupies just a single floor. If stairs are involved in the evacuation plan and there is someone who can't be expected to take the stairs, there must be an alternative to walking down them. That alternative is not the fire brigade. You are responsible for the evacuation of your staff. One evacuation chair will assist one person on one floor, so if there are multiple businesses occupying floors in a single building, it is important to coordinate your evacuation procedures together.

Having a risk assessment done will reveal whether an evacuation chair is needed. It depends on the building, on the people, on the circumstances… No two cases are alike and the range of chairs available reflects this diversity. Knowing you need one and knowing what you need are two very different problems, but here at Evacuation Chair Shop, we can help you find the right chair for your situation to make sure everyone can be safely evacuated. 

Have an explore to find the right Evacuation Chair for you.