The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) requires that “emergency routes and exits must lead as directly as possible to a place of safety” and that procedures for serious and imminent danger must enable the persons concerned to “immediately proceed to a place of safety in the event of their being exposed to serious, imminent and unavoidable danger”.
The RRO defines a place of safety as a “safe area beyond the premises”. This definition is intended to make it clear that an area from which no further escape can be made without re-entering the building is not to be regarded as a place of safety. An example given in the enforcement guidance is an internal courtyard enclosed by a building. BS 9999 notes that on completion of evacuation, all staff should be instructed to report to a previously determined assembly point or points, which “should be sufficiently far from the premises to avoid interference with the fire and rescue service or danger from falling debris”.
Official Government guidance notes that “good escape routes to a final exit will be of little benefit if the occupants are not able to get out of the building and move quickly to a place of total safety” and that it is “important to consider where people will go once they have evacuated from the premises”. A number of factors should be given consideration when identifying a suitable assembly point including:
- Whether final exits lead directly to a place of safety or discharge into an enclosed area (where discharge is to an enclosed area, access to a place of total safety should be available by means of gates or doors that open easily in a manner similar to final exits)
- The maximum number of persons to be accommodated at the assembly point at any one time
- The type of persons to be evacuated (eg those with mobility issues), how far they can be expected to travel and how they gain access to the assembly point
- The route from the building to the assembly point, including issues of illumination, traffic route condition and sign-posting
- Whether the assembly point requires illumination and shelter for those who may be vulnerable
- The proximity of other building outlets, including ventilation shafts that may allow the issue of smoke, heat or debris
- Dangers once away from the building, including busy roads and pedestrian traffic passing the building.
These factors can form part of the overall fire risk assessment for the premises so that any decision can be formally recorded and reviewed where necessary. Call Sanjay on 01748 811992 for advice on the location of fire assembly points.