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Guide to the ADA Standards

Areas of Refuge [IBC §1007.6 (2003), §1003.2.13.5 (2000)]

Areas of refuge are fire-resistance rated and smoke protected areas where those unable to use stairs can register a call for evacuation assistance and await instructions or assistance. They must provide direct access to an exit stairway (or to an elevator equipped with standby power). Horizontal exits can substitute for areas of refuge.

Features of Areas of Refuge

Area of refuge located on landing in enclosed exit stairway.  Person using wheelchair occupies one of two clear floor spaces on landing located outside required egress width and operates communication device on wall with posted instructions.  Stairway enclosure has separation by smoke barrier/ fire rating.  Notes:  Instructions - The IBC requires posted instructions on use of the area under emergency conditions next to the communication system and specifies required content.  These instructions must meet requirements for visual characters in the ADA Standards (§216.4.2, §703.5).  Two-Way Emergency Communication System - Devices must include audible and visual signals and connect to a central control point (and to a public telephone system if the central control point is not constantly attended) under the IBC. Their location must be approved by the fire department.  Operable parts are subject to the ADA Standards (§309).  Wheelchair Spaces - The IBC requires 1 wheelchair space (30” min. by 48” min.) for every 200 occupants or portion thereof served by the area of refuge. Spaces cannot reduce the required egress width and must be entered directly from an accessible route or one adjacent wheelchair space. Stairway Width - The IBC requires stairs serving areas of refuge to have a clear width of 48” min. between handrails to accommodate assisted evacuation.


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