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Fire Safety For Wheelchair Users At Home & At Work Presented By: United Spinal Association www.unitedspinal.org Funding Assistance Provided by: The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation 1 Funding Assistance Provided By: THE CRAIG H. NEILSEN FOUNDATION www.chnfoundation.org

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Fire SafetyFor Wheelchair UsersAt Home & At Work

Presented By:

United Spinal Association

www.unitedspinal.org

Funding Assistance Provided by:

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation

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Funding Assistance Provided By:

THE CRAIG H. NEILSEN FOUNDATION

www.chnfoundation.org

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation is dedicated to supporting research and innovative rehabilitation programs to improve the quality of life for those with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Along with supporting researchers in the field of spinal cord injuries, the Foundation also offers grants to qualifying non-profit §501(c)(3) organizations that assist people living with a spinal cord injury.

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For technical assistance, please contact:

Jennifer Perry

Compliance Specialist

Accessibility Services

United Spinal Association

[email protected]

800.404.2898 #7504 – Phone

www.accessibility-services.com

www.unitedspinal.org

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Mission Statement:

United Spinal Association is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Americans with spinal cord injuries and disorders.

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United Spinal Association

  • Private, National Not for Profit Organization

  • Established in 1946 as Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association

  • All members have a spinal cord injury or disease

  • Name changed in January, 2004 to United Spinal Association

    Headquarters:

    Jackson Heights, NY

    Regional Offices:

    Philadelphia, Buffalo, Naples, FL & Washington DC

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Accessibility Services – A Program of United Spinal Association

  • Accessibility Training Programs

  • Plan Review Services

  • Consulting

  • Site Assessments & Reporting

  • 3rd Party Inspectors

    www.accessibility-services.com

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1.) Review the features of building code life/fire safety requirements for newly constructed buildings and facilities that affect people with mobility impairments..2.)Review the evacuation protocols from the workplace and home for wheelchair users

Training Goals:

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A May, 2009 study from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation found that 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed [1] (defined as a central nervous system disorder resulting in difficulty or inability to move upper or lower extremities.)Additionally, 1.275 million of paralyzed Americans have a spinal cord injury.

Why Learn About Fire Safety for Wheelchair Users?

[1] Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Report on the prevalence of spinal cord injury and paralysis in the United States

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Why Learn About Fire Safety for Wheelchair Users? Foundation found that 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed

Given that approximately 40% of persons with paraplegia and 30% of persons with quadriplegia eventually return to work and 87.9% of all persons with SCI who are discharged from rehabilitation programs are sent to a private, non-institutional residence (in most cases their homes before injury)[2] it becomes even more evident that education on fire safety for people with SCI at both home and work is necessary given this population’s unique evacuation needs in the event of an emergency.

[2] National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center,

619 19TH Street South - SRC 529, Birmingham, AL 35249-7330

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Why Learn About Fire Safety for Wheelchair Users? Foundation found that 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed

  • While disasters and emergencies affect everyone, their impact on people with disabilities is often compounded by several factors, which necessitates the need for emergency planning prior to such a disaster or emergency.

  • Given the national tragedies in our recent past, including the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina, the special needs of people with disabilities in emergency evacuation situations, particularly those with SCI, has become an issue that all individuals must become familiar with.

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Why Learn About Fire Safety for Wheelchair Users? Foundation found that 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed

  • Unfortunately, despite the statistics on the growing number of people with disabilities living and working independently throughout the United States, many employers, fire/code officials, municipal managers and people with disabilities themselves, are still unaware of the steps that should be taken to ensure the safety of people with disabilities in emergency situations.

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Why Learn About Fire Safety for Wheelchair Users? Foundation found that 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed

  • Of particular concern for people with SCI is the proper use of areas of refuge, wide exit stairs, means of egress elevators and exterior areas of assisted rescue, all of which are required by the International Building Code (IBC), which is referenced in many jurisdictions nationwide.

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ICC International Code (ICC) Adoptions – February, 2010 Foundation found that 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed

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What the Law Says Foundation found that 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed

Because there are no federal guidelines requiring disaster or evacuation plans, many people are unclear about exactly whose responsibility this is.

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) does not require formal emergency plans. But ADA’s Titles I, II and III do require that employers, public services, and public accommodations and services operated by private entities, modify their policies and procedures to include people with disabilities.

  • Therefore, when evacuation plans are created or revised they need to include people with disabilities and activity limitations.

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In other words… Foundation found that 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed

  • People with disabilities, building owners and managers, fire safety personnel and anyone else involved with the development of evacuation planning, is responsible for ensuring that the needs of people with disabilities are understood and addressed should an emergency situation arise.

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Applicable Building Code Requirements Foundation found that 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed

  • International Building Code (IBC)

  • NFPA 5000

  • Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)

  • Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines

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Elements of Accessible Means of Egress – Key Definitions Foundation found that 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed

  • Exit access – all elements of an interior accessible route

  • Exit – areas of refuge, enclosed stairways, elevators, horizontal exits, exit doors

  • Exit discharge – exterior accessible route

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The Building Code and Evacuation Planning state and model building codes integrate specific requirements to improve the life safety afforded to mobility-impaired persons in newly constructed buildings.

  • Generally, accessible spaces shall be provided with not less than one accessible means of egress. Where more than one means of egress is required from any accessible space, each accessible portion of the space shall be served by not less than two accessible means of egress.

    Exception:

    Accessible means of egress are not required in alterations to existing buildings.

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Protection state and model building codes integrate specific requirements to improve the life safety afforded to mobility-impaired persons in newly constructed buildings.

  • Areas of refuge

  • Horizontal exits

  • “Protect in Place”

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Key features of the International Building Code (IBC) Chapter 10 Accessible Means of Egress requirements that affect people with mobility impairments and should be considered when developing an evacuation plan are as follows:

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The Building Code and Evacuation Planning Chapter 10

Areas of Refuge

Areas of Refuge are fire rated safe havens on a building’s upper and below-grade floors designed for persons with mobility impairments to await further evacuation from the responding fire company.

These areas can be provided in stair landings, elevator lobbies or an area that is properly fire-rated, and provides two-way emergency communication so that a wheelchair user can alert authorities to his or her location.

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Area of Refuge Chapter 10

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Areas of Refuge Location Chapter 10

  • On accessible route,

  • Direct access to a means of egress stairway or elevator, and

  • Separated from remainder of story by a smoke barrier

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Areas of Refuge: Exceptions for Smoke Barrier Chapter 10

  • Area located within stairway enclosure

  • Area of refuge and the building space it serves is equipped with an automatic sprinkler system

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Areas of Refuge: Other Requirements Chapter 10

  • Provide one 30”x48” wheelchair space for every 200 occupants served by the area of refuge

  • Wheelchair spaces shall not overlap required exit width

  • Two-way communication

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28 – Area of Refuge

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Travel Distance – Area of Refuge

  • General means of egress travel distance requirements apply for areas of refuge.

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Accessible Means of Egress Signs – Area of Refuge

  • Areas of refuge identified

  • Instructions within areas of refuge

  • Signs at inaccessible exits

  • Braille and raised letters at all exit stairway enclosure entrances

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Identification – Area of Refuge

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Instructions and Communication – Area of Refuge

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Evacuation – Area of Refuge

  • Elevators equipped with standby power and firefighter service (ASME A17.1)

  • Evacuation stairs (48” clearance between handrails, 7” treads, 11” min. riser)

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The Building Code and – Area of Refuge

Evacuation Planning

  • Means of Egress Elevators

    Elevators with stand-by power in addition to the fire service required of all elevators. The stand-by power enables fire fighters to travel to persons with mobility impairments on the upper or below-grade levels of a building and to evacuate them to the outdoors, even when a building’s normal electrical service is lost. These elevators are not intended to be used independently by people with mobility impairments in the event of an emergency.

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The Building Code and Evacuation Planning – Area of Refuge

Means of Egress elevators are typically required in buildings with 5 or more stories.

There are exceptions for buildings equipped throughout with automatic sprinkler systems on floors provided with a horizontal exit and located at or above the level of exit discharge and;

The elevator shall not be required on floors provided with a ramp when the building is fully sprinklered.

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36 – Area of Refuge

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Platform Lifts – Area of Refuge

  • Platform (wheelchair) lifts shall not serve as part of an accessible means of egress, except where they are allowed to provide an accessible route to certain areas. Platform lifts shall be installed in accordance with ASME A17.1.

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Vertical Platform Lift – Area of Refuge

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Incline Platform Lift – Area of Refuge

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The Building Code and Evacuation Planning required accessible route.

Wide Exit Stairs: Required to provide 48 inches between handrails so that three fire fighters will have enough room to carry a wheelchair user from a landing to safety.

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The Building Code and Evacuation Planning required accessible route.

  • Exterior Areas of Assisted Rescue

    Exterior Areas of Assisted Rescueare protected areas outside the exit doors of buildings designed to provide a safe area for persons with mobility impairments when the terrain or grade surrounding a building can’t be easily ramped to provide a safe route to a public area away from the building.

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43 required accessible route.

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44 required accessible route.

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Suppression required accessible route.

  • Before 9-11 there was no history in the United States of multi-fatality fires in buildings fully protected by operational, supervised automatic sprinkler systems.

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46 required accessible route.

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Evacuation Planning required accessible route.

By understanding their special evacuation needs, first responders can improve the chances of evacuating people with mobility impairments safely.

  • Remember - There is no such thing as a “typical” or “model” evacuation plan for people with disabilities.

  • “Boiler-plate” plans are worthless, as they do not take into account the unique circumstances of each facility and each person. Make sure your site is not using a boiler-plate disaster plan.

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Evacuation Planning required accessible route.

  • Each building and sometimes building area (in large buildings) is unique and should have its own plan.

  • The main goal is to get persons with mobility impairments to a “safe area” until the fire department arrives.

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Evacuation Planning Stakeholders required accessible route.

  • Fire, safety, and building code officials

  • Emergency plan coordinators

  • Building owners and managers

  • Employers and supervisors

  • People with disabilities

  • Office fire marshals

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IMPORTANT! required accessible route.

  • The primary objective of an emergency evacuation plan is the protection from injury and preservation of human life.

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International Fire Code required accessible route.

  • The International Fire Code requires FIRE SAFETY AND EVACUATION PLANS for most buildings open to the public, including: large malls, education & institutional occupancies, multi-family residential buildings, places of assembly, hospitals, colleges and businesses, to name a few.

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International Fire Code required accessible route.

  • Fire evacuation plans shall include the following:

    1. Emergency egress or escape routes and whether evacuation of the building is to be complete or, where approved, by selected floors or areas only.

    2. Procedures for employees who must remain to operate critical equipment before evacuating.

    3. Procedures for accounting for employees and occupants after evacuation has been completed.

    4. Identification and assignment of personnel responsible for rescue or emergency medical aid.

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5.  required accessible route. The preferred and any alternative means of notifying occupants of a fire or emergency.

6. The preferred and any alternative means of reporting fires and other emergencies to the fire department or designated emergency response organization.

7. Identification and assignment of personnel who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan.

8. A description of the emergency voice/alarm communication system alert tone and preprogrammed voice messages, where provided.

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International Fire Code required accessible route.

Fire safety and evacuation plans shall be reviewed or updated annually or as necessitated by changes in staff assignments, occupancy, or the physical arrangement of the building.

Fire safety and evacuation plans shall be available in the workplace for reference and review by employees, and copies shall be furnished to the fire code official for review upon request.

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Evacuation Plan Protocols and Procedures required accessible route.

  • Establish a relationship with the fire department or other first responders that would respond to your home or business in the event of a fire or other emergency. The relationship should include:

  • Developing an evacuation plan with the fire department.

  • Reviewing the plan with the fire department at least once a year.

  • Practicing the evacuation plan throughout the year.

  • Employers, in turn, should review evacuation plans annually, and practice and evaluate them regularly. Even a brief discussion during a staff meeting can help to remind everyone what he or she needs to do. Ultimately, a solid level of preparedness should become part of the fabric of the facility.

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Evacuation Planning required accessible route.

  • Know the locations of your usable exits on the grade level of the building and how to get to them.

  • Once outside, determine if a wheelchair user can get to a “public way” that is a safe distance away from the building and identify a safe meeting place.

  • A protected area for people with mobility impairments outside the exit door may be feasible.

  • In many buildings, even exits on the grade level of the building are elevated above the adjoining grade. In these instances, landings beyond the exit door should be reviewed to determine if they are adequate to accommodate a wheelchair user. Simply measure the landing. The clear floor space needed for a wheelchair user is 30 inches by 48 inches, but keep in mind that this area must be located beyond the swing of the exit door and clear of the exit path ambulatory persons will use.

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Evacuation Planning required accessible route.

  • Establish a Floor Warden System––these individuals are responsible for:

  • overseeing and coordinating evacuation activities,

  • conducting a final pass through the office space,

  • ensuring that everyone receives the necessary assistance as appropriate,

  • ensuring all doors to the elevator lobby are closed,

  • and reporting the floor evacuation status to the first fire or emergency officials

  • arriving on the scene.

  • When the alarm goes off, the Floor Warden should immediately verify circumstances and inform the person with a disability accordingly. It is of great importance to designate an alternate Floor Warden in the instance when the initial designee is absent. The names of these designated individuals should be updated and posted on a regular basis.

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Evacuation Planning required accessible route.

Identify a location or locations for an area of refuge––

  • In the event of a need for evacuation from an upper floor, wheelchair users should make their way, either accompanied or on their own, to a designated area of refuge or other place of safety on the same floor, (e.g., a closed staircase landing as described earlier).

  • They should inform their supervisor, a colleague, or other available person that they will remain in that place of safety and wait for assistance. Providing two-way radios or a telephone in these areas are excellent examples of ensuring that communication is provided.

  • The supervisor or other designated person should inform the first fire or emergency officials arriving on the scene of the disabled person’s location.

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Evacuation Planning required accessible route.

Evaluate the need for evacuation devices from upper and lower floors.

  • If used, their location(s) should be identified and their use should be practiced during regularly scheduled drills.

  • The use of evacuation devices can be directed through the installation of signage (e.g., individuals using evacuation chairs must use the east stairwell next to the men’s room).

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Example of Evacuation Chair required accessible route.

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Evacuation Planning required accessible route.

  • Practice dealing with different circumstances and unforeseen situations, such as blocked paths or exits.

  • Remember never to open doors that are too hot.

  • Ensure that all workers, including those on other shifts and those who are at the site after typical hours, (e.g., cleaning crews, evening meeting coordinators, etc.) are aware of wheelchair users who are typically in the building. Such off-hour employees should be involved in fire emergency drills.

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EVACUATION required accessible route.

Individuals with disabilities will face a variety of challenges in evacuating, depending on the nature of the emergency.

People with a mobility disability may need assistance leaving a building without a working elevator.

Procedures should be in place to ensure that people with disabilities can evacuate the physical area in a variety of conditions with or without assistance.

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Evacuation Procedures required accessible route.

Only attempt an emergency evacuation if you have had emergency assistance training or the person is in immediate danger and cannot wait for emergency services personnel.

Some evacuation methods for wheelchair users involve carrying an individual, such as the Swing or Chair Carry method shown here.

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ALWAYS ASK required accessible route. someone with a disability how you can help before attempting any emergency evacuation assistance. Ask how he or she can best be assisted or moved, and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come with the person.

Another evacuation method for wheelchair users is the 3 person assist, shown here.

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Assessing the Situation for People with Mobility Impairments:

• It may be necessary to help clear the exit route of debris (if possible).

     •   If people with mobility impairments cannot exit, they should move to a safer area, e.g., **  most enclosed stairwells**  

     •   Call 911 or notify police or fire personnel immediately about any people remaining in the building and their locations.

     •   Police or fire personnel will decide whether people are safe where they are, and will evacuate them as necessary. The Fire Department may determine that it is safe to override the rule against using elevators.

     •   If people are in immediate danger and cannot be moved to a safer area to wait for assistance, it may be necessary to evacuate them using an evacuation chair or a carry technique.

Power Outages:

     •   If an outage occurs during the day and people with disabilities choose to wait in the building for electricity to be restored, they can move near a window where there is natural light and access to a working telephone.  

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Contracting for Emergency Services Impairments:

  • Make sure that contracts for emergency services require providers to follow appropriate steps outlined in this presentation.

  • Review the terms of these contracts on a regular basis to ensure that they continue to meet the accessibility needs of people with mobility impairments.

  • Provide training to contractors so that they understand how best to coordinate their activities with your overall accessibility plan for emergency services.

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Home Evacuation for Wheelchair Users Impairments:

  • Before a Fire Occurs:

  • Identify and determine the nearest emergency exit or exits within your home.

  • If possible, try to live, or have your sleeping area, close to an accessible exit.

  • You might require some accommodations to facilitate an emergency exit such as a ramp or removal of barriers.

  • Make the adjustments necessary to ensure a safe escape route.

  • Be sure that you can open all locks on windows and doors throughout your house.

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Home Evacuation for Wheelchair Users Impairments:

  • Heat and smoke detectors can reduce the chance of dying in a home fire by approximately 60%.

  • Install heat or smoke detectors throughout your home. Key locations are: the kitchen, basement, storage areas, trash areas, accessible attics, sleeping areas and hallways.

  • Make sure that smoke alarms are kept cleaned and vacuumed regularly to remove dust particles. Test the batteries monthly and replace batteries twice a year to ensure that they are working properly.

  • If your smoke alarms are connected to the electric circuits of your residence, you should have battery backups in case of an electrical failure.

  • If you are unable to perform these tasks yourself, ask your friends, family members, building managers, or someone from the fire department to help you out.

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Home Evacuation for Wheelchair Users Impairments:

  • Learn how to use a fire extinguisher. For those who use wheelchairs, you might want to consider mounting a small personal extinguisher in an accessible place. This will be beneficial if you cannot “stop, drop, and roll” if your clothing catches on fire.

  • Another beneficial resource of information is your local fire department. They can provide valuable information regarding better escape routes, equipment, and potential hazards within your home. Become knowledgeable of the fire department’s restrictions and inform them of yours.

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What to Do in Case a Fire Occurs… Impairments:

  • Always test doors before opening them.

  • Use the back of your hand and reach up high and touch the door, the doorknob, and the space between the door and the frame. If the door feels hot, keep it closed and use a second exit if available. If the door feels cool, open the door slowly and exit, staying as low to the ground as possible.

  • If it is impossible for you to stay low to the ground, cover your mouth and nose and safely exit the room as quickly as possible.

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What to Do in Case a Fire Occurs… Impairments:

  • Exit your home as quickly as possible.

  • Do not use any elevators and do not go back inside after exiting your home.

  • Get help from your neighbors and contact the fire department.

  • If you get trapped in your room close all doors between you and the fire.

  • Fill cracks in all open spaces so no smoke enters the room.

  • If possible, contact the fire department and inform them what room you are in. It is also a good idea to use a light colored cloth and wave it out the window to signal the fire department when they arrive at your location.

  • If you own a cell phone, keep it with you at all times.

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Conclusion Impairments:

  • Group Discussion

  • Follow-Up & Questions

  • Resources

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Resources Impairments:

  • US Department of Justice www.ada.gov/emergencyprep.htm

  • American Red Crosswww.prepare.org/disabilities/disabilities.htm

  • National Organization on Disabilitywww.nod.org

  • United Spinal Associationwww.unitedspinal.org

  • US Access Boardwww.access-board.gov

  • International Code Council (ICC)http://www.iccsafe.org/accessibility

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Questions???? Impairments:

Thank You For Attending!

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