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Advice Centre

FAQs on Clear and Accessible Escape Routes

A few months ago we released an infographic created to highlight the responsibilities of business owners in regards to fire safety and protecting their workforce. We thought we would take the chance to answer some of the FAQs we receive about these responsibilities – and first in the series is tackling clear and accessible escape routes.

What Are My Responsibilities as an Employer?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRFSO) 2005 states that the responsible persons of a non-domestic building are charged with the responsibility to keep everyone in the building safe – both those employed and visiting.

Image source: Flickr - Unubonn

What Qualifies as an Escape Route?

An escape route is the pathway from your building to the fire exit that, according to the RRFSO, should lead “as directly as possible to a place of safety” (14: 2: a). This route must not include lifts, escalators, or any other electrically powered means of travelling to avoid injury or entrapment should a fire intervene with its power supply.

What Qualifies as a Clear Escape Route?

Article 14 of the RRFSO, states that the duty of care entrusted to those responsible includes ensuring that “routes to emergency exits from premises and the exits themselves are kept clear at all times” (14: 1).

This means that no obstacles are to permanently or temporarily block pathways or doorways that are fire exits for the building. Your staff and visitors must be able to leave the building easily without any obstruction. Exits should open easily and without delay, and sliding or revolving doors must not be used. 


Image source: Wikipedia

How Can I Correctly Indicate Where the Fire Escapes Are?

Fire exits must be well lit and signposted, and in locations that require extra light, emergency lighting must be provided in case the usual lighting fails. As noted in the HM Government publication Fire Safety Risk Assessment: Offices and Shops, “The primary purpose of emergency escape lighting is to illuminate escape routes but [to] also illuminate other safety equipment”.

Where Should My Fire Exists Be?

Fire exits are the final exit out of a building on an escape route. They can be placed along the usual pathway around the building, but can also be placed out of the way. As long as the location leads to “a place of safety”, and where possible, “in the direction of escape”, it is considered an appropriate place for a fire exit.


Image source: Flickr - Peronimo

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