Safe refuges and the DDA

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Safe refuges and egress from milti storey buildings for disabled people.

On my many access audit visits up and down the country I have undertaken DDA audits in many multi storey buildings. As a disabled person and a DDA auditor (Access All Areas) I am concerned about the DDA recommendations of areas of safe refuge within multi storey buildings. The DDA states that such building should have areas of safe refuge for those unable to manage the stairs in the event of an evacuation.

This surely is assuming the emergency is a fire and those in the safe refuge area will ‘assumable’ be rescued relatively quickly by the fire department.

I personally do not have a problem with this assuming the safe refuge area has been checked thoroughly but and the big but is would you be happy to remain in an area of safe refuge in a large building if the emergency was say a ‘Bomb Scare’? Would it not be better to have Evac chairs in all multi storey building with staff equipped to use them? Food for thought wouldn’t you say?

As a wheelchair user I fully agree that we should be able to have access to most reasonable public buildings, however as an access auditor I feel if we cant get out of the building safely, we should not be going in it, at least not until those responsible have address all issues including egress. For more details on DDA access audits see www.access-auditing.com Finally my advice to fellow disabled people is: When entering a building think about how you will get out in an emergency as well as how you will get in.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

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