Assisted emergency evacuation


1. Refuge Area emergency voice communication point

2. SafeZone app emergency button (app has to be pre-registered)

3. Campus emergency phone number:

0141 330 4444 (Gilmorehill)
0141 330 2222 (Garscube)

University Policy and Arrangements for Assisted Evacuation

1.  Policy

2.  Roles and responsibilities  

3.  Assisted Evacuation Arrangements

3.1 Exit from floors that are accessible without the use of a lift

3.2 Exit from floors that are accessible only by lift
3.3 Refuge Areas
3.4 Response teams
3.5 Evacuation chairs
3.6 Evacuation lifts
3.7 Ambulant staff requiring assistance
3.8 Deaf Alerter system

4.   Communications and provision of information

4.1 General information
4.2 Specific information for individuals requiring assisted evacuation
4.3 Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans

1. Policy

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.

2. Roles and responsibilities

Ensuring that suitable arrangement are in place for students and for members of staff who need assistance to leave University buildings in an emergency will normally require engagement by several University departments to identify the need, make suitable arrangements and communicate these to the person involved.

The person who needs assistance is the most important part of these arrangements and should be central to any discussions necessary to devise and establish suitable support procedures. The document on which evacuation arrangements are recorded is known as a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) and must be developed in full consultation with the person involved. 

In many cases the general arrangements in place for assisted evacuation and will be sufficient and, in that situation all that will normally be required is to record that this is the case and ensure that the person involved understands what they should do in the event of a building evacuation. Where an individual is able to hear the fire alarm and can self-transfer into an evacuation chair with minimal assistance, the general arrangements will usually be sufficient to allow them to be evacuated safely.

However, where specific arrangements are required beyond the general assisted evacuation arrangements, the relevant academic or service unit who employ the staff member, or have the student registered on a course, will need to consult with Security, Safety and Environmental Protection Service, and Estates and to develop suitable individual evacuation arrangements. Disability Services may be involved in this process if a student has registered with them but will not typically make the specific practical arrangements.  This responsibility falls to the academic or service unit(s) who supervise the person.

The lead role in ensuring that individuals know what arrangements in place are for assisted evacuation and that any additional individual arrangements have been established and recorded within a PEEP lies with different people within the University structure but should normally follow the principles indicated below. Job titles may vary across the organisation but those performing the functions described should seek to ensure that suitable arrangements are in place for individuals under their supervision. Those with such responsibilities should consult with Security and SEPS as part of this process and should develop practical arrangements in conjunction with these teams. Ultimately heads of unit are responsible for ensuring that these tasks are done for those within their care.

Employees:    Line manager

Academic programmes: Course coordinator/administrator
Accommodation: Accommodation manager 

2. Assisted evacuation arrangements

The University has general arrangements in place for providing assisted evacuation for campus users. This involves evacuation chairs and, in some cases, evacuation lifts with practical support delivered by the Security team. The following sections set out these arrangements in more detail.

Whilst these arrangements will be sufficient for many individuals, they may not be suitable for all building users and additional measures may be needed in some cases.  Where supplementary measures are needed, these must be developed as described in the preceding section and recorded by means of a PEEP.

3.1 Exit from floors that are accessible without the use of a lift

Where there is an accessible building entrance, users will normally be able to leave the building unaided by means of the accessible route.  Where the exit route is long or complex, SEPS Fire Safety Advisers should be consulted.

3.2 Exit from floors that are accessible only by lift

If a lift has been used to enter a building, this will NOT be available to exit the building when the fire alarm has activated. When the fire alarm is activate most modern lifts will automatically go out of service, following pre-programmed behavior that is designed to prevent users becoming trapped. Typically, if the lift is in motion when the fire alarm triggers, it will travel to the exit level and remain there with the doors open. Alternatively, if the lift is stationary at the time of the alarm, it will remain at the current floor level with the doors open.

Some older lifts may remain in operation but, due to the risk of becoming trapped, should NOT be used during a fire evacuation. 

As lifts will not be available, if building users are unable to use the stairs to descend unaided, assisted evacuation arrangements will normally be required.  This may require use of an evacuation chair or evacuation lift as described in sections 3.3 - 3.6.

 3.3 Refuge Areas

Areas suitable for awaiting help with evacuation have been identified on upper floors within our accessible buildings. These areas, typically stair landings, are marked by suitable signs. These are normally fire-protected areas (typically with at least 1 hour fire protection) where users can safely remain for a period of time while awaiting help to evacuate.

In the event of fire alarm activation or other circumstance that prevents exit by lift, those who are unable to leave the building on their own should immediately travel to the closest Refuge Area.

On arrival, the two-way communications system, if installed, should be used to communicate directly with Security or Facilities Services staff. When the call point is active Security know of the location even if the user is unable to speak to them.

In areas where there is no direct Refuge Area communication point, Security should instead be contacted by using either: 

  • University SafeZone App emergency button, or
  • Mobile phone to call Security using the emergency number for the relevant campus:
    • Gilmorehill 0141 330 4444
    • Garscube  0141 330 2222

Note that the SafeZone app must be downloaded to a mobile phone and the app registered to the University. Using the emergency button triggers a loud audible alarm at the Security gatehouse and opens voice communication. It also allows Security to see the user’s location on campus so that they can send help.

Anyone who requires assisted evacuation is strongly advised to carry a charged mobile phone and to ensure that the SafeZone app has been installed and registered and that the emergency number(s) are programmed into the phone memory so that these options can be used. 

Fire Wardens, and other building users, also provide a means by which anyone who needs help can let the staff managing the alarm activation know that help is required.

It is expected that all building users should provide emergency support by advising Security staff in charge of the evacuation that someone needs help, where they are aware of this. 

3.4 Response teams

Security at Gilmorehill and Garscube campuses provide 24-hour emergency response and in the event of an alarm activation will attend to provide help should anyone require assistance to evacuate.

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 Dumfries Campus, and SCENE at Rowardennan as well as properties in the Glasgow area that are not on our main campuses. Specific local arrangements will be needed for anyone who requires assistance with evacuation and uses a site that is off-campus. This will form part of the PEEP for anyone using these sites and unable to evacuate without help.

If staff or students who need help with evacuation are expected to attend such off campus location, the person responsible for arranging the PEEP should, if practicable, contact the local site manager to discuss the necessary arrangement. If that is not practicable, the individual should be advised to make contact with the local manager on arrival at the site to discuss their needs.

3.5 Evacuation chairs

Evacuation chairs are installed within many campus buildings and, although not suitable for everyone, can be operated by Security as part of the evacuation process. Untrained staff should not attempt to use an evacuation chair (other than in an immediate and life-threatening emergency) as this could endanger both themselves and the individual who is being assisted. Security can provide training in the use of evacuation chairs where local evacuation arrangements are being established.

Potential users must be able to self-transfer into an evacuation chair with minimal assistance. Where this is NOT the case, individual arrangements will be required to provide additional support and development of a PEEP will be required.

As there is some risk of injury in transferring and using an evacuation chair, building users will typically not be immediately taken downstairs by evacuation chair unless this is necessary for their safety.  Where an alarm activation is reliably identified to be a false alarm and the individual is within a Refuge Area with a fire-protected route to a final exit, it may be judged by Security to be safer to have the person remain at the Refuge Area for a short time while the alarm is silenced. The reasons for remaining in the waiting area should always be explained and the expectation is that they would be accompanied throughout the waiting period. If the individual does not wish to accept the option to wait within the building, they should be fully evacuated.

Likewise, where a planned fire drill is taking place, it is permissible for a disabled building user who requires the use of an evacuation chair to wait, accompanied, at the Refuge Area as the safest option. However, disabled building users should not be excluded from fire drill training and should have the opportunity to experience using an evacuation chair, should they wish to do so.  That can be arranged in consultation with Security but is normally best done independently of a busy fire drill period.  

3.6 Evacuation lifts

Although normal passenger lifts cannot be used during a fire alarm activation, some buildings are equipped with lifts which can be operated as fire evacuation lifts. This has to be done under switched manual control as, like other lifts, they will go out of service unless switched to evacuation mode and taken under the control of an evacuation team. These can be a useful evacuation option where a user is unable to use an evacuation chair. Where use of a lift is anticipated, a specific local agreement and supporting PEEP to record the agreed arrangements will normally be required.

Security and SEPS Fire Safety Advisers can provide information on locations where evacuation lifts are available.

3.7 Ambulant staff requiring assistance

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, Security can provide assistance and can be contacted as described above.

3.8 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.  Students who are 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.  Staff should advise their line manager of their requirement and contact SEPS Fire Safety Advisers.

4. Communications and provision of information

4.1 Provision of general information

The evacuation arrangements described above are likely to be adequate for most people who may require assistance. Information on these arrangements should be provided by Course coordinators or line managers and discussed with the individual so that they clearly understand the evacuation arrangements and what to do in an emergency.

Information on the arrangements are also available via the University website and notices within buildings so that visitors may be informed of what to expect.

Where members of the public visit particular areas, e.g. Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, specific local arrangements are in place and advice is available from attendant staff on the action to be taken in the event of emergency evacuation. The arrangements should also be explained at the start of public events and functions, particularly where it is evident that there are wheelchair users within the audience. These arrangements are supported by Security.

SEPS include information on assisted evacuation within specialist fire training courses to ensure that those who deal with evacuations are familiar with the arrangements.

4.2 Provision of specific information to individuals requiring assisted evacuation

Course coordinators should ensure that they have provided information on the general assisted evacuation arrangements to any students who may need help with evacuation and who are on courses which they manage. Where specific assistance arrangements have been developed the Course coordinator must ensure that the student involved is fully aware of these.

Course coordinators should ensure that any student who may have to use an evacuation chair is offered an opportunity for a trial evacuation using an evacuation chair. This can be facilitated by Security.

Members of staff should discuss such matters with their line manager, Head of School/Service or HR Manager in the first instance.

4.3 Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPS)

It is the intention that the general assisted evacuation arrangements described above will provide a suitable level of support for most campus users who require assistance. The general arrangements should be discussed with the affected individual and if, agreed to be suitable, may be regarded as the evacuation plan for that individual. This can be recorded using the first part of the staff or student PEEP form.

Where the general arrangements are not suitable and supplementary arrangements are required, these need to be established and recorded on a user-specific PEEP. Thsi should be recorded on the second part of the relevant PEEP form. It is possible that more than one PEEP will be required for different buildings or sites.

Where no suitable and safe evacuation arrangements can be identified, other solutions, such as using alternative teaching or work locations, may be necessary.