25 October 2018

"Area of refuge"

Spotted while visiting a show at a local hotel.  This was a featureless dead-end area on the main floor, adjacent to a set of elevators.  I had to look up the term:
An area of refuge is a location in a building designed to hold occupants during a fire or other emergency, when evacuation may not be safe or possible. Occupants can wait there until rescued or relieved by firefighters. This can apply to the following:
  • any persons who cannot access a safe escape route
  • any persons assisting another person who is prevented from escaping
  • patients in a hospital
  • sick people
  • people with disabilities
  • old people
  • very young children or infants
  • medical personnel who may be operating on a patient at the time of the emergency
  • operators in a critical facility whose function must not be interrupted (such as nuclear power station, a key military fortification, or a high security prison)
It's still a bit vague as to how this area is safer than any other, or how the implementation works.  I suppose the existence of such designated spots tells first responders where to look for persons needing help.  [relevant information from two architects in the Comments]


  1. A Random ArchitectOctober 25, 2018 at 1:02 PM

    Areas of Refuge are safer because they are located in an area with higher fire-rated walls (typ 2-HR), which are required for exit stairs. Sometimes elevator lobbies are required to be fire-rated too, dependent on the materials used to build the structure, how tall the building is, and what the function of the building is.

    2-HR fire rated wall means that on average and under test conditions it would take a fire at least 2-hours to burn through the wall.

    Also, you are probably right in that firefighters are trained to check those locations.

    1. Thank you for that information! I'm always amazed by the breadth of the knowledge base of readers here.

  2. From yet another random architect: The phone next to the sign is an intercom so the person waiting in the area of refuge can talk to a firefighter at the fire annunciator panel, which is usually in the main lobby. It sometimes extends to the fire alarm monitoring agency. The local fire marshall is involved in code and permit reviews and can dictate the location and procedures set up for any fire code items like this. All of that information is available to the first responders, who stop first at the annunciator panel so they know where to find the fire and where to look for people who can't get to an exit.


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