“In case of fire, use stairs unless otherwise instructed.” It’s one of those phrases that we see so often that it’s sort of become second nature. However, in the next few years, the Fire, Buildings, and City Planning departments in New York City, will be instructing otherwise. There are several pieces of legislation in the works to make elevator use the new standard procedure in case of fire emergencies.
The departments working together to put into place new evacuation procedures are being spurred on by two events: the Americans with Disabilities Act which was passed in 1990 and the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The former event required that employers and architects assure that access to the workplace was provided for people with disabilities. No one really stopped to think about quick evacuations for employees with disabilities once they were there. As for the second event, it is estimated that over 3000 people in the 2 World Trade Center building managed to get to safety in the sixteen minutes between the two buildings being hit. This was due, in large part, to employees using the elevators to evacuate after hearing about the 1 World Trade Center building being hit.
And so, as counter intuitive as it is, it looks like we’ll be using elevators during fire drills and emergencies in the coming years. Evacuation elevators will be slightly modified to accommodate emergency environments. As buildings soar ever higher, it’s becoming not only impractical, but also dangerous to expect workers to use stairways to reach ground floors in a timely fashion.
For more information on the new fire codes and evacuation standards popping up all over the country, keep up to date with our blog! And contact John Michael Agosti & Associates for consultants and/or expert witnesses for fire code, life safety code, or smoke detector code cases.