Arrangements for assisting disabled people with evacuation from University buildings


1.  Policy

2. Evacuation Arrangements
2.1 Refuge Areas
2.2 Response Teams
2.3 Evacuation Chairs
2.4 Ambulant staff requiring assistance
2.5 Deaf Alerter system

3.  Communications and Information
3.1 General information
3.2 Specific information for individuals requiring assisted evacuation
3.3 Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans



The University recognises that access to buildings brings with it a responsibility to ensure that arrangements are in place to allow all occupants, including those with a disability to exit buildings promptly, and safely, under normal and emergency circumstances and that building users who have a disability may need practical assistance to do this.  The University aims to provide such assistance, so far as is reasonably practicable.


It is anticipated that most people, including those with restricted mobility, will be able to exit ground floor areas by means of existing accessible entrances and exits.   Where this is not the case, or where excessive travel is required at ground level to reach a usable exit, the University will examine the feasibility of providing additional exits or refuge areas. 

All building users should be aware that although they may access the upper storeys of buildings by lift these cannot be relied upon for exit.  If users are unable to use the stairs to descend, arrangements for assisted evacuation may be needed.  Lifts MUST NOT be used in the event of a fire alarm activation and in many cases, automatically enter a safe shutdown sequence in such circumstances.  There is also the risk of a simple power failure preventing use of a lift either in normal circumstances or in association with fire alarm activation.  For these reasons, the University has established a system of assisted evacuation to enable building users to exit buildings safely under these circumstances. 

The assisted evacuation system comprises several elements:


2.1 Refuge Areas

Areas suitable for disabled people to wait temporarily on upper floors for assisted evacuation have been identified within accessible buildings. These areas, typically stair landings, are marked by suitable signage. In the event of fire alarm activation or other circumstance that prevents exit by lift, those with a disability that prevents them leaving the building unaided should proceed to the closest Refuge Area.

Two-way communications systems are installed in some Refuge Areas to allow users to communicate directly with Central Services staff. A rolling programme to provide further two-way communication links is ongoing on a prioritised basis.

In some areas no direct communication links exist at the moment.  In such areas a mobile phone should be used to contact Central Services.  Anyone who requires assisted evacuation is advised to carry a charged mobile phone and to ensure that the emergency number below is programmed into the phone memory.

Fire Wardens and other staff provide a further route for emergency communications. 

Emergency Number: 0141 330 4444

2.2 Response teams

A central response team is maintained at Gilmorehill campus with a second team based at Garscube Campus.  These two teams provide 24 hour emergency support should anyone require assistance to evacuate a building on these sites.

Some buildings have established additional local evacuation teams that provide a valuable additional resource during normal working hours. On sites that are remote from the main campus formation of local teams will be an essential requirement, if people with a disability use the buildings. This includes locations such as Crichton Campus, and SCENE at Rowardennan.

A number of staff within Central Services and other units can provide training in use of evacuation chairs to response team members.  Safety and Environmental Protection Services provide specialist fire safety training for all response team members who may be required to enter buildings during times when fire alarms are in operation. Training in the above procedures is available to local evacuation teams that may be established, whether in support of the central arrangements or to provide cover on remote sites.

2.3 Evacuation chairs

Evacuation chairs are provided within buildings with the number and location of these being determined by building use and other local factors. A list of chair locations is held by Central Services and SEPS.  To inform emergency teams, evacuation chair locations within individual buildings are indicted on signs located at fire alarm panels.

Provision and periodic maintenance of evacuation chairs is dealt with as part of the building infrastructure and is the responsibility of Estates and Buildings. Only staff who have undergone regular training in the use of an evacuation chair should be involved in an assisted evacuation. Untrained staff should not use an evacuation chair as this could endanger both themselves and the individual who is being assisted. No member of staff should attempt to carry a disabled person manually from a building during an emergency evacuation.

2.4 Ambulant staff requiring assistance

In some cases individuals may not require an evacuation chair to exit a building but may be able to do so with a minimal level of additional support.  (For example, leading partially-sighted people along unfamiliar routes, assisting in negotiating stairs etc.. Where this is the case local management units should establish arrangements to provide assistance utilising Fire Wardens or other local staff.  Where this is not possible, the Central Response Team(s) will attend and provide assistance if this is required.

2.5 Deaf-Alerter system

A network of Deaf-Alerter systems is installed across some of the buildings on the Gilmorehill Campus. On activation of the fire alarm within these buildings, the system sends an alert signal to compatible radio-pagers.  Staff and students who are deaf or unable to hear the fire alarm system can be issued with a pager and should approach the Disability Service to register this need in the first instance.  Pagers are held locally within individual buildings equipped with the Deaf Alerter system.



3.1 General information

The evacuation arrangements described above are likely to be adequate for the vast majority of people who may require assistance.  These arrangements are communicated by means of the University website, staff and student induction packs, notices within buildings and at the Refuge Areas. 

As part of the fire evacuation procedure, the arrangements for physically assisted evacuation should be verbally explained at the commencement of employment or courses of study.

Where members of the public are encouraged to visit particular areas, e.g. Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, written information is available on the action to be taken in the event of emergency evacuation. The arrangements should also be explained at public events and functions, particularly where it is evident that there are wheelchair users within the audience.

SEPS include information on assisted evacuation within Area Fire Officer and Fire Warden training to ensure that those who deal with evacuations are familiar with the arrangements.

3.2 Specific information for individuals requiring assisted evacuation

Students who require assisted evacuation are strongly encouraged to advise the Disability Service of this.  The Disability Service will provide information about the assisted evacuation arrangements to students who have registered with them and, if indicated, can arrange a trial evacuation using an evacuation chair, facilitated by SEPS or Central Services.  Members of staff should discuss such matters with their line manager or Head of School/RI/Service or HR Manager in the first instance.

3.3 Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans

Where individuals consider that the general arrangements for assisted evacuation that are in place would not allow them to be safely evacuated from a building, they should:

(i) For staff, discuss the adjustments that may be needed with their line manager.

(ii) Students should raise the issue initially with the Disability Service.

In both cases, Central Services and SEPS should also be informed so that discussion on possible individual arrangements can take place. If suitable alternative evacuation arrangements can be established these will be recorded as a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan that is specific to the individual.  Where no suitable alternative evacuation arrangements are practicable, other solutions such as utilising different teaching or work locations may be required.