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Fire Engineering Brief Considerations

There are a number of areas where the use of The Accessible Exit Sign Project designs can be considered during the development of a Fire Engineering Brief. Sub-system E (SS-E) of the fire engineering process is used to analyse the evacuation of the occupants of a building and this process enables estimates to be made of the times required for occupants to reach a place of safety.[1]

At this stage of the assessment the ability for occupants to locate a suitable accessible means of egress, move to the exit, move through the exit and travel to the safe place outside the building must be considered, in terms of all occupants.

In order to do this, when evaluating or designing a building’s fire safety system, it is therefore important to understand the building’s characteristics and its normal mode of functioning.[2] These characteristics relevant to consideration of emergency exit signage include:

  • Occupancy Building classification – Usage, particularly unusual use
  • Size & shape – Number and size of floors and general layout of each floor
  • Structure – Refuge areas, egress paths etc.
  • Management and use – Regular inspections of preventive and protective measures, Training of occupants

It is critical to also understand the likely occupants of the building.[3] There are many characteristics that can be identified that make complete characterization a complex and difficult task. However, for the IFEG states for a given fire engineering evaluation only a limited number of ‘dominant occupant characteristics’ may affect the outcome. The following are examples of dominant occupant characteristics that are relevant to consideration of emergency exit signs in a building:

  • Distribution – number, gender, age, or location
  • State – awake or asleep, intoxicated or sober, unconscious or fully conscious
  • Physical attributes – mobility, speed of travel, hearing ability, or visual ability
  • Mental attributes – level of understanding, potential emergency behaviour, ability to interpret cues, and ability to take and implement decisions independently
  • Level of assistance required – requires full assistance, requires some assistance or does not require assistance
  • Level of assistance available – shift schedules or staff numbers and type
  • Emergency training – trained or untrained
  • Occupant (group) roles – parent or child, teacher or student, nurse or patient, or staff or customer
  • Activity at the outbreak of fire – asleep or awake, working in a noisy environment, or watching a performance
  • Familiarity with the building – unfamiliar, relatively familiar or familiar

[1] International Fire Engineering Guidelines, p.1.1-2

[2] International Fire Engineering Guidelines, p.1.2-5

[3] International Fire Engineering Guidelines, pp.1.2-6 to 1.2-7

Buildings need exit and emergency signs to identify parts of the accessible means of egress. An Accessible Exit Sign Project Initiative.

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