Essentially, it is an area designed for people who cannot evacuate through the stairwell or for when it is too dangerous. For example, if you are a hospital patient in a wheelchair who can not use the stairwell or elevator to exit the building, you can wait in the Area of Refuge for help. People can safely in the refuge area, contact first responders via an intercom system, and wait for first responder rescue.
As a comprehensive fire safety company, the teams at Pacific Fire & Security have extensive experience testing and maintaining areas of refuge spaces. We can test your area of refuge communication system, ensuring it meets all regulations and local requirements. We serve all types of commercial buildings in the Greater Seattle area, such as hospitals, high-rise office buildings, apartment complexes, stadiums, industrial warehouses, and more. Put your trust in us today to ensure the ultimate level of safety.
Area of Refuge Communication
One of the most critical aspects of your building’s areas of refuge is its communication device. You must ensure that it is fully operational and ready for people to use during an emergency.
Your area of a refuge communication system must include the following:
- An operating voice-activated communication system that includes a push-call button.
- A confidence light that indicates an active call button.
- An acknowledgment light to show that the first responder at the main point of control recognizes the individual’s call for help.
Area of Refuge Requirements
Under the IBC, NFPA, and ADA, requirements of an Area of Refuge include the following:
- An area of refuge be located on every building floor, excluding the ground floor.
- Two-way communication system with every area of the refuge system and a main point of control.
- Identification of each area of refuge with clearly legible signage outfitted with the Accessible Means of Egress Icon.
- The main point of control must have 24-hour staff on the line.
- The communication system must include visual and audio signals indicating when communication occurs.
Area of Refuge Testing in Seattle
Pacific Fire & Security is a leading Seattle fire safety and security company boasting extensive expertise regarding Areas of Refuge. We can provide high-quality confidence testing that helps you meet Area of Refuge code regulations and protect your building occupants in the case of an emergency. Look to our certified fire technician to meet your unique building needs and specifications time after time.
Area of Refuge Testing FAQ
What is an area of refuge?
The International Building Code (IBC) establishes an area of refuge where people unable to use the stairwell can safely await assistance from first responders during an emergency evacuation. They are often in the form of a corridor near the elevator or stairwell, large enough to fit multiple wheelchairs.
Is my building required to have an area of refuge?
The IBC requires all commercial buildings under new construction to have an area of refuge, excluding single-story buildings or buildings with an ADA ramp system.
Where is an area of refuge required?
Typically buildings are required to have an Area of Refuge at the stairwell, elevator, or horizontal exit. If your facility does not have a ground-level ADA ramp, you must have one on the interior and exterior side of the exit door.
Who uses areas of refuge?
Many different types of people require areas of refuge, including disabled people, the elderly, wheelchair users, hospital patients, and anyone who is unable to access the building stairwell. An Area of Refuge provides them with a safe and secure place to wait for aid from first responders.
What is a sign of a refuge area?
Refuge areas have designated signage to alert people of where to await assistance in an emergency. Typically a place of refuge signage adopts the Accessible Means of Egress Icon, a universal handicap signal. These signs also signal first responders to check refugee area points and evacuate all occupants waiting for help.
How often should my area of refuge be tested?
We test your area of refuge annually along with your other fire safety systems, such as your smoke control, fire alarm, and fire sprinkler systems. Read more about our fire and life safety systems testing and inspections here.
What agencies regulate areas of refuge?
The International Building Code (IBC), The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) all regulate and set forth requirements for Areas of Refuge.