Areas of Refuge Save Lives in Emergencies – Is Your Building Compliant?

One of the first things that happen in an emergency situation, such as a fire, is that elevators become inoperable. People must use the stairs to escape the building, setting the stage for tragedy. Too often, there will be those who are unable to use the stairs, such as the disabled, the ill, or the elderly. Rescue personnel must frantically search room by room for those who could not leave during the evacuation, delaying rescue and unnecessarily risking both their own lives and the lives of those left behind.

Areas of Refuge Assist Both Potential Victims and Rescuers

Areas of Refuge (AOR) are designed to alleviate this horrendous situation. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Areas of Refuge must be established, providing a safer place where those in need of rescue can assemble and contact rescue personnel while waiting for help. These locations must be clearly identified. Precious time is saved since rescuers know where people needing help are waiting, making rescues easier and faster.  Systems Management Group is certified in designing AOR’s for your facility.

What are the Requirements for an Area of Refuge?

Typically, local building codes stipulate that pressurized ductwork must supply a constant supply of filtered or fresh air for a certain amount of time even when exposed to a fire. Necessary electrical equipment must also have an acceptable fire-resistance rating

Systems Management Group knows that an essential part of any system is two-way communication to areas of refuge.  Inhabitants awaiting rescue are able to notify rescue personnel of their condition and location, as well as, receive confirmation that their communication has been received.  Systems Management Group’s licensed team tests, inspects, and monitors this system to ensure your inhabitants safety is priority.

Systems Management Group designs systems to comply with the local regulations and to comply with ADA requirements, this means the system we install in the areas of refuge will have the capability of 24/7 monitoring, and have devices to aid those with hearing, speech, and limited mobility to communicate effectively.

Other requirements for Areas of Refuge include:

  • Emergency lighting that will operate in a blackout
  • Appropriate signage pointing the way and identifying Areas of Rescue Assistance
  • Designated locations next to the emergency exit path, including exit stairs, but not blocking the path of able-bodied evacuees
  • A fire barrier between the Area of Refuge and the remainder of the building
  • An area large enough to hold at least one wheelchair, depending on the building