Remain seated for a speedy evacuation
ROGER BUCKLEY, director of Edwards & Buckley Systems, explains why the Evac+Chair is a safety device that no building can do without
Edwards & Buckley Systems has been manufacturing the Evac+Chair in South Africa since 2004, under licence to Evac-Chair International, based in Birmingham, England. The company is the sole and exclusive manufacturer and distributor for the southern hemisphere, including South America, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.
What is an emergency evacuation chair and why is it necessary?
The Evac+Chair is a stairway evacuation chair for people with mobility impairments, including people with disabilities, injuries or ailments that render them unable to walk down stairs unassisted.
Emergency evacuation plans always prohibit the use of lifts as an evacuation route, but will take into account that people with injuries, disabilities or other medical impairments will need to be moved away from dangerous areas. In some cases, they will need to be carried down stairs to a safe area and wait until it is safe to go back upstairs, or transfer to hospital.
Corporate employers and government have recognised the need for these chairs in all their multi-storey buildings, recognising that anybody could be upstairs in these buildings at any time, and it will be their responsibility to ensure safe evacuation.
Is there any law that mandates use of the chairs?
Besides their constitutional rights, people with disabilities are protected specifically under various laws and regulations in terms of their rights to access and to leave buildings safely. These include:
• The Labour Relations Act;
• The Public Service Reasonable Accommodation Handbook, published by the Department of Public Service Administration;
• The New Building Regulations (SANS 10400).
What is unique about the Evac+Chair design?
This is the original stairway evacuation chair. It is easy to operate and lightweight, but safely carries people of up to 182 kg.
The Evac+Chair is certified TÜV GS compliant and tested by TÜV Nord of Germany at the company’s factory in Wadeville. It is certified for safety (valid until October 2017, at which stage it will be retested). The company maintains strict quality policies and is certified by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and is ISO 9001:2008 compliant.
What sort of maintenance does the Evac+Chair product require?
Inspections should be carried out annually, or more frequently where chairs are used extensively.