We’re here to answer all your evacuation chair questions, read on to find whether you need evacuation chairs, and how to prepare for emergency stairway evacuation in your building.

To discuss your requirements with an expert please get in touch.

Need evacuation chairs

What is an evacuation chair?

An evacuation chair is a chair designed specifically to evacuate persons with disabilities in an emergency. Evacuation chairs are usually designed for going downstairs, however, for basements or floors below ground level you can also get evacuation chairs for upstairs travel. A common scenario is using an evacuation chair for a wheelchair user: the wheelchair user would be transferred to the evacuation chair, to be taken downstairs, and to an area of safety outside the building.

Who needs evacuation chairs, and is it a legal requirement?

It’s the legal requirement of the building tenant or owner to provide a safe means of escape for the building occupants – this is not the responsibility of the Fire Service.

If your building is open to the public, you will also be required to provide evacuation provisions for visitors. This is known as a General Emergency Evacuation Plan (GEEP). If you also have employees or residents with disabilities, you need to have a safe method of stairway evacuation for each person. This is known as a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP).

Disabilities can also be temporary, as well as long-term. If a resident or member of staff has a broken limb, for example, they may need assistance evacuating the building when they wouldn’t usually. This reiterates the importance of the GEEP, a pre-emptive measure for unforeseen circumstances.

Evacuation chairs are only required for buildings with stairways, if your building doesn’t have stairways there will still need to be evacuation provisions and plans in place, but evacuation chairs won’t likely be required.

Why is it important to have evacuation chairs if you have a lift?

If you have a lift, visitors or staff with disabilities will use this to gain upper floors. However, lifts can’t be used in an emergency, so there needs to be a safe method of stairway evacuation provided.

How many evacuation chairs do I need?

For a general emergency evacuation plan the rule of thumb is: one chair per staircase, per floor. This should be in addition to personal evacuation provisions needed for regular occupants in the building.

If the evacuation equipment is in the wrong place in an emergency, it puts both the operator and person with disabilities at unnecessary risk.

Your General and Personal emergency evacuation plans will be unique to your building and circumstances, please contact us today to find out more.

Where should evacuation chairs be located?

Evacuation chairs should be readily accessible in an emergency, the best place is usually by the stairs on each floor of your building. Whilst it may be necessary to store the chair in a stairwell, it is often best to transfer the passenger just outside this area to prevent blocking the escape route whilst loading the chair.

Consider the storage options for your chairs, if it’s likely to be subject to vandalism or theft, consider a secure storage cabinet. Many evacuation chairs come with fitted covers to protect the chair and ensure it is kept in good condition and ready for use in an emergency.

How to use an evacuation chair 

Please bear in mind that the procedure for using an evacuation chair varies according to the product. For Exitmaster evacuation chairs, watch the demonstration video below.

Is evacuation chair training mandatory?

Operators need authorised evacuation chair training to be fully prepared for an emergency. Training will empower operators with the knowledge and confidence they need to ensure everyone gets safely out of the building.

Find out about our evacuation training services here.

How often should evacuation chairs be serviced?

An evacuation chair is a Class 1 Medical Device and should be serviced annually as part of the UK PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulation). Maintaining your chairs ensures they are fully operational in case of an emergency.

Find out about our evacuation chair servicing here.

Can evacuation chairs go upstairs?

Yes, there are evacuation chairs that can go upstairs. This is most commonly required for evacuating basements or floors below ground level. For manual evacuation chairs, there will usually be 2 or 4 operators needed to carry the loaded evacuation chair upstairs, this will be subject to manual handling requirements and the make and model of the evacuation chair.

Please note that not all evacuation chairs are designed to go upstairs, and this should be checked with the manufacturer.

Our Versa Plus and Versa Elite evacuation chairs are designed for downstairs and upstairs travel with extra carry handles. Find out about the products here and contact us for more information.

Not all evacuation chairs are made equal.

Thankfully, emergencies in our buildings are not happening regularly, but this does not mean we can afford to skimp on our evacuation provisions. In an emergency, the last thing you need is an evacuation chair that is difficult to use for the operator and unsafe and uncomfortable for the passenger.

These chairs are life-saving equipment, it’s imperative you choose quality, safe, products that operators are confident to use.

Whole range and 25 years logo

Our models are the safest, most comfortable, most ergonomic and easy to use on the market. But don’t just take it from us:

Fire & Evacuation Trainer ” I have always found Evacuation chairs difficult to use, but yours are so simple to use and you feel so safe when you are a passenger.”

International Safety Organisation Chairman ” As an international organisation with offices in multiple countries around the world, our sales teams have never found evacuation chairs easy to sell or demonstrate. That will change now with us introducing the ExitMaster range as they are quick, safe and extremely easy to use and demonstrate.”

Backed by 25 years of experience, Exitmaster are trusted industry experts who manufacture innovative evacuation chairs that provide the best experience for both operator and passenger.

A word about dignity and other evacuation provisions

We believe in making the experience as best as possible (given the circumstances) for the chair passenger, and this includes a more dignified experience. There are undignified evacuation methods such as ‘sledges’ or ‘mattresses’ that many staff or residents with disabilities would not like their colleagues or associates to see them using.

It’s important to ensure your staff and residents feel valued and respected, including providing a dignified means of evacuation in case of an emergency.

Does your building need evacuation chairs?

Contact us today to talk about your evacuation chair requirements.

+44 (0)20 8275 0375 or sales@enable-access.com