NFPA Releases New Edition of Guide to Assist People with Disabilities
NFPA has released a new edition of a guide that helps the disabled community prepare for emergency evacuation. As I mentioned briefly in a blog post earlier this year, NFPA had been working with several stakeholders to publish an update to this important resource, which is written by the NFPA Disability Access Review and Advisory Committee (DARAC) with assistance from NFPA staff and others. In November, NFPA published the third edition of the Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities. The main purpose of the guide is to provide building occupants, as well as building managers in non-residential buildings, guidance on how to develop an emergency evacuation plan that is inclusive of people with disabilities. For the new edition, the guide has been reimagined and redesigned from the ground up. It utilizes a simplified layout, with content arranged in four unique parts. Part I: Preparing an Emergency Evacuation First, the user is presented with helpful steps in order to create and implement an emergency evacuation plan. This section is critical as it establishes planning team resources and considerations, including who should be on the planning team. (Hint: Occupants who self-identity as having a disability are essential!) Additionally, plan logistics, such as developing, practicing, and updating plans, is covered in greater detail. Part II: Stages of an Emergency Evacuation In this section, the user is guided through the five stages of emergency evacuation. Practical considerations are reviewed, along with the use of visual images to assist the user with specific concepts, such as what emergency announcements they might hear and what exit signs they might see. While references to specific NFPA documents, such as NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®, and NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, are provided, expertise with these documents is not necessary to be able to utilize the contents of the guide. The concepts provided in this section will also assist planning teams in a review of their facilities emergency readiness. Part III: Checklist for Emergency Evacuation Planning In this section of the guide, users are able to answer questions in a detailed checklist, which is organized based on the stages of an emergency evacuation outlined in Part II. There are more than a dozen questions, such as Does the alarm system include verbal instructions for all occupants? and Does evacuation require the use of exit stairs? Answering these questions will assist the user, as well as the planning team, in uncovering any obstacles or gaps that can be addressed for all occupants. Part IV: NFPA Publications and Other Resources Lastly, the guide provides users with a list of resources from NFPA and other organizations for further review. Embedded links within the document are provided to assist the user in quickly locating the resources provided. The Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities is available as a free download. It is important to note that all or portions of the guide may be reproduced, displayed, or distributed for personal or non-commercial purposes. Commercial reproduction, display, or distribution, however, may only be done with the permission of NFPA. We hope that you find the guide to be a useful tool to assist you with emergency evacuation planning. Please contact your authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) for information regarding your responsibilities in your jurisdiction. If you have questions or comments about the guide, NFPA would appreciate hearing from you. Contact Kevin Carr at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay inclusive.