Disability Fire Evacuation Planning and Implementation

Person in a wheelchair with a guide dog and a white cane, highlighting disability fire evacuation considerations.


Ensuring safe access to buildings for disabled individuals is crucial, but their safe egress in the event of fire is equally important. Effective disability fire evacuation planning not only complies with fire safety laws but also ensures the safety of disabled individuals during emergencies. This guide outlines the essential considerations and steps involved in developing and implementing disability fire evacuation plans, emphasising the importance of Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) and training for staff and management.

Importance of Planning for Disability Fire Evacuation

Planning for the disability fire evacuation involves preparing for exceptional circumstances, enabling disabled individuals to control their evacuation as much as possible. While some may require assistance, many disabled individuals prefer and can manage to evacuate independently. Therefore, the goal should be to facilitate independent evacuation whenever feasible.

Sign indicating that the premises have a disabled persons evacuation plan for disability fire evacuation.

Integration with General Evacuation Strategy

Disability fire evacuation arrangements must align with the overall evacuation strategy and emergency fire action plan of the premises. Dutyholders are responsible for implementing these plans, minimising reliance on the Fire Service. An effective evacuation plan for disabled individuals, often referred to as a PEEP, outlines the specific evacuation methods for each area of a building, tailored to individual needs.

Developing and Implementing a PEEP for Disability Fire Evacuation

A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) is tailored to the specific needs of disabled individuals, detailing their evacuation method from various parts of the building. It’s important not to assume that all disabled people require a PEEP or that they will request one. People with “hidden impairments” like heart conditions or epilepsy may also need assistance during emergencies.

Key principles for PEEP development include:

  1. Respect and Courtesy: Treat disabled individuals with the same respect as non-disabled people, avoiding viewing them as a “health and safety” problem.
  2. Individual Needs and Preferences: Understand that needs vary widely among individuals; see the person, not the disability.
  3. Involvement: Involve disabled individuals meaningfully in the development and review of their PEEP.
  4. Communication: During evacuation, ask what assistance is needed rather than assuming. The individual knows best about their impairment.
  5. Information: Keep the disabled person fully informed throughout the evacuation process.
Emergency worker assisting a person in a wheelchair during a disability fire evacuation drill.

Communication and Training for Effective Disability Fire Evacuation

Effective communication and appropriate training for staff and management are vital for the success of the disability fire evacuation plan. Staff should understand the fire safety strategy and evacuation plan, enabling them to assist disabled individuals effectively. Training should cover areas such as disability awareness, evacuation etiquette, moving and handling techniques, and the use of pre-planned routes.

Standard and Individual PEEPs for Disability Fire Evacuation

Individual PEEPs: These are specific plans for employees and regular visitors who may need special provisions during an evacuation. Developed in consultation with the individual, these plans include detailed information about their movements and the support required.

Standard/Generic PEEPs: For occasional visitors, such as customers, standard evacuation plans can be used. These plans should be available at reception points and offered to visitors as part of the entry procedures.

Practicing Disability Fire Evacuation

Regular practice of evacuation plans is essential to ensure smooth execution. This includes simulated drills for carry-down procedures to avoid unnecessary risks to disabled individuals.

Wheelchair user in front of an emergency evacuation elevator sign, highlighting disability fire evacuation procedures.

Assisted Evacuation for Disability Fire Evacuation

For those requiring assistance, pre-arranged meeting places and a reliable communication process between the disabled person and their “buddy” are necessary. Coordination and regular review of plans are essential, especially in multi-occupancy buildings.

Managing Reasonable Adjustments in Disability Fire Evacuation

Reasonable adjustments should be made to facilitate the safe evacuation of disabled individuals, considering their unique needs and ensuring their dignity and independence.

Specific Considerations for Different Impairments in Disability Fire Evacuation

  1. Mobility Impairments: Provide handrails, consider the use of evacuation chairs, and ensure adequate staff assistance.
  2. Hearing Impairments: Use visual alarms, vibrating pagers, and trained staff to assist.
  3. Visual Impairments: Improve signage, provide orientation aids, and ensure accessible fire instructions.
  4. Cognitive Impairments: Use clear signage, colour coding, and provide additional support as needed.


Ensuring safe egress during a disability fire evacuation is a critical aspect of building management and fire safety compliance. By developing comprehensive PEEPs, training staff effectively, and making reasonable adjustments, dutyholders can create a safe environment for everyone. Regular reviews and practice of evacuation plans further enhance preparedness and ensure the safety of disabled individuals in the event of a fire.

If you would like to know more or would like our assistance in the areas mentioned check us out at www.intrinsicsafety.com.au. Alternately, call us on 1300 990 336 or email us at [email protected]

author avatar
Brendan Day Chief Executive Officer
Brendan Day, based in Sydney, is a WHS and Emergency Management expert with a rich background in emergency services, including significant experience as a military firefighter, emergency responder, and emergency response manager. His career spans across both public and private sector roles, where he has developed and implemented comprehensive WHS management and Emergency Management systems. As the CEO and Principle Trainer at Intrinsic Safety, Brendan combines his military discipline with modern safety practices, offering advanced training in workplace health, fire safety, confined spaces, height safety and first aid. His qualifications, including a Diploma of Work Health and Safety, reflect his commitment to safety excellence and continuous improvement in emergency response management and safety practices.
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