Research says elevators may be a safer option to stairs in a high-rise evacation

According to “Experts Reconsider Elevator as Fire Escape”, an article by Anthony M. DeStefano, elevators in skyscrapers may be used in future mass evacuations based on research by a special National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) panel that studied the evacuation of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.

“Don’t use elevators in fires is one of the most successful public education [safety] campaigns in history,” added Jason D. Averill, an expert on fire safety for NIST.  This idea brought about some of Emedco’s most successful signs in glow-in-the-dark and standard sign material – ‘In case of fire, do not use elevators, use stairways’ signsBut due to the events of Sept. 11 and taller buildings sprouting up all over the globe, elevators are being looked at as  safe evacuation option in mass evacuations, especially fires. Major national safety organizations, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), are preparing or proposing standards for the use of elevators in high-rise evacuations.

The elevator push comes after years of analysis of the Twin Towers showed how inadequate stairs were, said Edwin Galea, a professor at the University of Greenwich in England.  NFPA’s life safety code published in 2009 states elevators should be in “noncombustible hoistway” with fire resistant shafts separate from the building.

Currently there is no federal building code that includes elevators in an evacuation process so states and cities are coming up with their own requirements. For example, New York City requires all new high-rise construction to include impact-resistant fire stairs and stairwells must be spaced away from each other.  Also, protected/hardened elevator shafts and vestibules should be available where people can safely wait until it is their turn to evacuate.

It’s important to remember that the use of elevators is still being considered. Take the stairs in case of an emergency in most buildings.


Stylish evacuation marking

Every building is required to mark evacuation routes in case of an emergency – why not do it with style?

Emedco has a line of Interior Decor Signs that not only glow in the dark for safer evacuations, but contain braille for the visually impaired.  Basically you’re getting 3 signs in 1!

Why these signs are great:

  1. Interior Decor signs are Emedco’s upscale sign, perfect for offices or really any place that has a nicer image than the inside of  a warehouse.
  2. Adding Grade II Braille makes these signs compliant with ADA which improves the safety of the visually impaired who work or visit your building.
  3. Glo-Mor glow-in-the-dark material lights these signs up for over 6 hours and they meet 5 safe evacuation regulations.

The Glo-Mor Braille Interior Signs cannot be scratched or defaced, and they are safer in an emergency than standard non-glow signs.

NFPA released new edition of NFPA 1600® available for free on

NFPA 1600® Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs

“NFPA 1600 establishes a common, high level set of criteria for disaster and emergency management and business continuity programs to develop, implement, assess, and maintain these programs. The programs address management, planning, prevention, mitigation, implementation, response, recovery, testing and improvement.”

A major difference between the 2010 version and the 2007 version is omission of one chapter: Program Elements, and the creation of new chapters: Planning, Implementation, Testing and Exercise, and Program Improvement.  The contents of 2007’s Program Elements chapter was broken down and added to these new chapters, then expanded upon.

Chapter 4 – Program Management, has been elaborated to create specific guidelines for individuals who are leaders for their company’s disaster and emergency plans. Leadership and commitment has been added to this chapter along with performance objectives, finance and administration, and records management.

Chapter 5 – Planning, includes planning process, risk assessment (carried over from the former chapter 5), business impact analysis, mitigation, and more.

Chapter 6 – Implementation, includes much of what was Chapter 5 in 2007 along with new additions: employee assistance and support, Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), training and education.

Chapter 7 – Testing and Exercises reminds Emergency Leaders that practice makes perfect when it comes to implementing an evacuation plan.

Chapter 8 – Program Improvement has been added in order to recognize that emergency plans are “working” documents. As regulations and recommendations are updated by NFPA or there are changes in personnel at your facility, your emergency policy must be updated accordingly.   This chapter also calls for reviews after each incident to reevaluate your program and learn from lessons.

2010’s 1600 seems like a more thought-out version than the 2007 1600. Please make your safety officers aware of these updated changes.  Well-practiced emergency procedures keep employees safe from injury or even death – do not take these recommendations lightly.