Building designs should place the safety of the occupants as top priority, so having adequate means of escape is crucial, in case of emergency situations.

In case of a fire, for example, people should be able to get to the nearest points of exit as quickly as possible, via effective safety or escape routes. When people escape through the fire exits; they should then be able to reach a safe place outside the building to await further instruction. In dangerous situations, occupants must not use elevators, as fire could have damaged the mechanism and they could become trapped. So it’s critical that the building has external fire exits and easy access routes to save the occupants from further risks, such as falling debris or suffocation.

The provision of stairs as a fire exit in the overall building design cannot be the only point of consideration. There are other factors to bear in mind, such as:

The Travel Distance to Exits

The travel distance to an exit must always be as small as possible. There is no point creating a fire exit point if occupants find it hard to reach or if it takes ages to access.

The Size of the Building and how Many People it can Accommodate

Emergency plans must include all the details on which the model of the building is based, such as its size, number of floors and how many people it can hold. So the design team must allocate enough fire exit points, keeping in mind all these important details.

The Mobility and Other Characteristics of the Building’s Occupants

The physical abilities and limitations of occupants must always be carefully considered. For example, are there likely to be any disabled people present who will need to be physically helped from the building in an emergency? Or does anyone have any mental concerns, such as an anxiety disorder or emotional issues that may slow their exit?

The Functions of the Building

The function and uses of the building will affect the means of escape, as different activities are linked to different kind of risks and hazards. For example, in an open warehouse with lots of machinery about, the biggest risk will probably be the equipment falling, breaking or catching on fire. Then, the possibility of larger structures collapsing should also be planned for.

The Dimensions of the Building

The dimensions of the building would indicate how the points of exit should be designed and placed, and how many of them are actually needed.

Exits from below Ground Level

In basements and underground car parks etc., there should not be only adequate exit points, but also food arrival points and areas where the emergency response teams can enter safely. The flow of people exiting the building from below should not be restricted by narrow corridors or entrances, so there should be enough space for the exit points to allow easy evacuation right up to ground level.