Owners’, occupiers and managers have a legal duty to make sure that all people who use or visit their buildings can reach a “Place of Total Safety” in the event of a fire safety emergency. Legislation describes a Total Place of Safety as being “a place, away from the premises, in which people are at no immediate danger from the effects of a fire”. A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan, or PEEP, is a bespoke “escape plan” for individuals who may have difficulties evacuating a building to a Total Place of Safety without support or assistance from others.
Who Needs a PEEP?
PEEPs may be required for any member of the University community (staff, students, visitors) that may have one or more of the following:
Neurodiverse or mental health conditions
Other circumstances that may affect a person’s ability to evacuate (this could include people with underlying health conditions, or who are pregnant or who have a short-term injury, such as a broken leg).
The key question that determines whether a PEEP is required is “Can you evacuate a building unaided in a reasonably prompt manner during an emergency situation?” If the answer is “NO” then a PEEP is likely to be required.
How do I get a PEEP?
Members of Staff
If you need assistance evacuating a building, even if this is only on a temporary basis, then you need to bring this to the attention of your line manager. Your line manager is responsible for working with you to complete your PEEP. You do not need to reveal any personal medical information but we do ask that you tell us about anything that affects your ability to evacuate a building.
Prospective and New Students
We encourage prospective students to disclose any disabilities or health conditions as part of the application process. The Student Services Disability Team is responsible for identifying where the University needs to put specific arrangements in place to support new students. These arrangements are recorded as a Disability Access Plan. As part of this process, Student Services will also identify whether a PEEP is likely to be required. We will share relevant information with your academic department. This will not include any private or personal medical details unless you specifically consent to this information being disclosed. Heads of Department are responsible for ensuring that DAPs and PEEPs are written and implemented for students within their department. HoDs can fulfil this responsibility by delegating this task to one or more members of the department. However, they remain accountable for the completion of this task.
Student Disability Service will monitor that PEEPs have been completed as part of the overall DAP monitoring process.
Students Living in University Accommodation
We have a range of accessible accommodation across campus and at our off-site residences. Students applying for University accommodation are encouraged to disclose any health conditions or disabilities as part of the application process so that we can best meet your residential needs whilst you are studying at the University. Student Services will inform Accommodation and Hospitality Services (ahs) where students have disclosed a health condition or disability that is likely to require a PEEP. Ahs is responsible for making sure that all students declaring a health condition or disability are provided with a PEEP covering their residential accommodation.
Existing students can disclose disabilities or health conditions at any time to Student Services or to a member of their academic department, such as their Personal Tutor or Supervisor. They will then work within the agreed departmental arrangements to liaise with you and Student Services to enable the development of a DAP and/or PEEP.
Long-term visitors, such as visiting academics, disclosing a health condition or disability, may require a PEEP. Their University contact will take on the role of the line manager and will be responsible for working with the visitor to determine whether a PEEP is required. The PEEP process for staff and students should be followed.
All PEEPs are recorded on the PEEP standard assessment form
Members of the Public Routinely Using University Premises
In the case of members of the public who are known to make regular use of University facilities, such as members of the public routinely using sports facilities at the STV, the relevant department will agree a PEEP with the individual in question using the PEEP standard assessment form.
For short-term visitors, such as guest lecturers or attendees at University events, such as open days, or occasional users of the STV, it is not practical to put in place individual PEEPs. The University has developed a series of “General Emergency Evacuation Procedures (GEEPs)” to cover the most frequently visited buildings.
The PEEP Process
Once a potential need for a PEEP is identified, then your line manager (employees), Head of Department (Students) or University Contact (long-term visitors) will work with you to complete the PEEP standard form.
In the first instance, you will be asked to identify if you have any health conditions, disabilities or other concerns that will affect your ability to get to a Total Place of Safety in the event of an emergency. If you answer “NO” to each of these questions then no further action is required. This will be recorded on your PEEP form and the record will be placed on file.
If you answer “Yes” to one or more categories then you will be asked to complete the relevant sections of the form, as follows. You do not need to provide any private or confidential information to identify any specific medical conditions or disabilities; we are only interested in identifying what support you require.
Which Buildings do You Most Regularly Use?
The PEEP needs to cover those buildings that you will be regularly using whilst on site. For employees and Long-Term visitors, this will include your office accommodation and any buildings that you are regularly required to visit to attend meetings, or to teach or to carry out other substantive parts of your role. Student PEEPs will need to cover all areas regularly accessed for study and/or research. The General Emergency Evacuation arrangements are listed in Appendix 2 will provide information on what is available in our buildings. A generic PEEP has been written for the library; this can be incorporated into a specific PEEPs where relevant.
There are a number of “public” buildings, such as the Fresh Shop, where there is level access and emergency needs are covered by local fire wardens.
List of frequently used buildings with level access/egress: - Fountain Café
Students Union, level 2
The Pit Stop
Fresh Express shop
The Edge Café
Sports Training Village
The above buildings generally have level access out, the means of escape for mobility impaired persons and other disabled persons will therefore be easier. Arrangements in these areas are such that these will not generally need to be included in PEEPs rehearsals.
Support for Issues Identified within the PEEP
Supporting people who are unable to hear the fire alarm:
The University campus has a deaf alerter system for informing people who are deaf or have impaired hearing of fire alarms. This system is available for staff, students and visitors who require it.
In the event of a fire alarm being activated, the system will alert you using a vibrating pager. The system relies on transmitters connected to individual fire panels in the campus buildings. When activated, they will send a text message to your pager stating which building the fire alarm is in. This could be a building that you are occupying or a neighbouring building to ensure people with hearing difficulties are aware of the situation. The pager will only send alerts for buildings if the individual is inside or nearby, not for all buildings on campus.
Pagers are installed and maintained by Estates. Information on this system and how to access it is available on the Estates webpages
There are additional devices, such as vibrating pillows, that can be used in University residences. Requirements for these devices will be picked up within the ahs PEEPs.
Supporting people with visual conditions
The amount of support that people with visual conditions might require will depend on the severity of the impairment. Consideration needs to be given as to the best means for providing fire safety information. This could include providing fire safety notices in large print, braille or some other format. The person that the PEEP is being written for will generally know what works best for them and they will be able to guide you.
Where students require information in different formats then contact Student Services Disability Service and they will arrange appropriate support. Where staff require bespoke information then contact the University’s Health, Safety and Environment Service and they will provide advice on the potential options and availability of funding.
Some people with visual conditions will have sufficient vision to see fire escape signs and to make their way independently to fire exits. People with more severe visual conditions may require support to find their way to evacuation routes. It may be necessary to assign one or more people (or “buddies”) to provide this support. Buddies could be fellow students or co-workers. If a person has a dedicate carer then they may provide this assistance. The role of a buddy is to provide assistance to navigate to a fire exit.
All non-residential buildings have appointed fire wardens. An integral part of their role is to “sweep” designated parts of their buildings to make sure these are clear before then exiting. They will provide assistance to anyone who may be having difficulty locating escape routes. However, PEEPs should not rely on this as the sole means of assisting people to find escape routes. This is especially important in office and teaching accommodation where fire wardens may only work during “normal office hours”.
Supporting people with mobility conditions (horizontal escape)
For many people, the challenges they face when moving around a building in an emergency are exactly the same as they will experience when generally moving about a building. This could include issues with opening doors so that they can move freely around a building. Where this type of issues is identified then Estates should be contacted so that they can look at solutions to improve access (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Where people have temporary impairments, such as broken limbs, that impact their ability to move about the campus then temporary arrangements may need to be considered to support their safe movement around a building. This could include identifying one or more buddies to physically support the person to get promptly to a fire exit. Ideally, mobility-impaired people should evacuate at the same time as all other people. However, it may be acceptable to consider waiting for corridors to clear before the persons makes their way (either with or without physical support) to an exit.
Supporting people who have difficulty using stairs
Many of our buildings have accessible areas in parts of buildings where there is no level means of egress; in these cases emergency evacuation requires people to either go up or down stairs in order to reach a Place of Total Safety.
The majority of fire escape staircases have associated safe refuges, either on the staircase landings or in lobbies immediately adjacent to the staircase, that provide a “Place of Relative Safety” from which bespoke evacuation strategies can be implemented. A Place of Relative Safety will provide at least 30 minutes protection from fire and smoke.
In some cases, people with mobility conditions may be able to safely use stairs provided these are clear. This could include some wheelchair users who can walk short distances, or who can come down the stairs on their bottom. Other people can walk unaided, or with limited support, but may require longer than other occupants in order to complete the travel distance. In each of these cases, an acceptable strategy may be for the person to wait in a safe place allowing other people to clear the stairways before they make their way down independently or with the support of a buddy.
Other people will be unable to use stairs. Normally, lifts should not be used for evacuation. However, some of our buildings, particularly newer buildings, such as Chancellors building, 4 East South and 10 West, have evacuation lifts that can be used to safely evacuate people from the building. These lifts are fitted with special override facilities that allow Security to work these in the event of an emergency. Buildings with these facilities are identified in the University's General Emergency Evacuation Arrangements.
Where evacuation lifts are not provided then the PEEP should establish whether the use of an evacuation chair is viable. Security has access to evacuation chairs that can be used in all University buildings. However, not all wheelchair users or mobility-impaired persons can safely use evacuation chairs; if this is identified as an issue in the PEEP and there are no other identified options, such as evacuation lifts, then advice should be sought from UHSE in the first instance.
A number of emergency refuges are fitted with Emergency Voice Communications (EVC’s) and there is a programme in place to install more of these around campus. These enable communication between the refuges and the fire control point in each building. The fire control point is where each building’s fire alarm panel is situated; security staff attend the fire alarm control point when the alarm is actuated and will be able to respond any requests for assistance. In buildings where EVC’s are not fitted then security should be contacted by telephone (01225 383999) so that assistance can be sought. The means of communicating with security (where required) should be identified in the PEEP.
Fire wardens are responsible for checking refuges within their designated area before evacuating a building. Where they identify that someone is awaiting assistance they will report to the Fire Control point and advise security where the person is and what assistance they require. This should not be relied upon as the sole means of alerting security that someone needs assistance.
For general access around site, there is a wheelchair accessible route provided from level 3 of 1 East all the way around the Parade through to level 3 of 2 West. People based on level 3 of any of these buildings can make use of this route to facilitate routine access. They can also use this route to move into a different building in the event of a fire alarm actuation in the building they are in. For example, in the event of a fire alarm in Wessex House, people on level 3 can evacuate to 4 West, 8 West or 5 West. Once in a different building, lifts can be safely used to evacuate to a Total Place of Safety.
Supporting people with neurodiverse / mental health conditions
Some people requiring PEEPs may have one or more conditions that will affect their ability to process evacuation cues or to react appropriately to those cues. Where an individual identifies that this is likely to be an issue then UHSE (for employees and visitors) or the Student Disability Service (for students) should be contacted for advice.
Rehearsal and Distribution
It is important that the PEEP arrangements are physically checked to ensure that they are appropriate and meet the needs of the individual covered by the PEEP. A physical check, or rehearsal of evacuation should be carried out to ensure that arrangements are appropriate. Things that should be checked include: location of refuges; availability of EVC’s; mobile phone signal when this will be relied upon to contact security; physical features of the building do not pose unforeseen barriers to egress and the location of any evacuation lifts. The PEEP should only be finalised when it is confirmed that satisfactory arrangements are in place.
Copies of the PEEP should be distributed, as relevant, to each of the people listed on the PEEP Standard Assessment Form. Please bear in mind that this information is covered by the General Data Protection Regulations. The information should not be shared any more widely than is absolutely necessary.
PEEPs should be reviewed at least annually. More frequent reviews will be required if a person’s conditions change. Where this results in a significant change to a PEEP then a fresh rehearsal should be carried out. Reviews should also be carried out if there is reason to believe that changes are required, for example as a result of a fire drill where the PEEP arrangements are identified as being inadequate.