Evaclite Emergency Exit Signs and the team is multi-award winning and has been fortunate enough to secure some significant awards already:
Winner; Fire Innovation of the Year – Security & Fire Excellence Awards 2018
Runner-up; Safety & Health Excellence (SHE) awards 2019
Finalist; Safety & Health Excellence (SHE) awards 2020
Here we have our beloved MD, Bernard Ashford receiving the award for Fire Innovation of the Year from, amongst others, James Nesbitt:
Anyone familiar with designing, building or managing a property will be familiar with risk. They will also be keen to manage and minimise this risk.
In the case of an emergency, particularly a fire, every second counts and risk can increase significantly over time.
When it comes to the alarm sounding and then trying to evacuate a building, several things need to be considered.
This process looks like this:
Firstly, we need to consider people, us, and how we reach to external stimuli, specifically in this case the fire alarm. We all behave differently depending on the situation. In an emergency we can take time to realise what we are hearing, decide how we are going to react and then to actually do what we have decided. This takes time, is slowed by stressful situations and risk increases as this process slows. Anything that helps speed this up then is a good thing.
Two other critical things to consider are how long you need to get out of the building (the RSET; Required Safe Egress Time – which is generally a fixed amount of time) and how long you have got to get out (the ASET; Available Safe Egress Time – which is variable and generally a reducing amount of time).
Understandably, the ASET minus the RSET must be positive to be safe. In others words you have long enough to exit the building safely in as many emergency situations as possible.
As such, fire engineers build in a ‘Safety Factor’ something that builds as big a cushion of time as possible between these two numbers. A contingency for the unanticipated.
This is what Evaclite dynamic signage does. It helps ensure the maximum difference between the RSET and ASET.
Not only does it halve decision making time but it also increases the safety margin by increasing the speed and efficiency of the evacuation when compared with conventional signage, whatever the circumstances.
This helps allow for daily life, the bicycle in the corridor, the delivery in the lift lobby or the group of guests being shown round the office.
It hence reduces risk, makes buildings safer and helps save lives.
Fire safety: How responsible are you?
Fire safety: How responsible are you?
We’re involved in managing buildings; we all know our responsibilities when it comes to fire safety, right?
We all know that should we have a visit from our local fire and rescue authority to check our fire procedures and prevention measures that they can act if they think our measures are inadequate.
We are also well aware that this could result in one of the following:
Alterations notice the building has high safety risks should its use change (and changing use is real possibility these days)
Enforcement notice an instruction to make changes if there are high risks that are not being managed effectively
Prohibition notice an instruction to immediately prohibit access or even close the building based upon the level of apparent risk
We are in no doubt as to the importance of complying with fire regulations and keeping people safe. Our day job involves carrying out risk assessments and ensuring that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.
However, how often do we give thought to what a breach could cost, not just to the business but to us as individuals? Have we considered recently that beyond the emotional impact, a breach could result in a responsible person such as ourselves facing a fine and even imprisonment?
Furthermore, due to changes in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order in March 2015, such a fine is unlimited.
The Lighting Industry Association (LIA) suggests: “This (change), in conjunction with new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences, almost certainly means that fines for offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order are likely to increase. Arguably, this makes compliance with the legislation even more important for business.”
A review of 200 cases undertaken by Warren Spencer, a fire safety solicitor who topped the fire safety category in the IFSEC Global Security and Fire Influencers 2018, seems to bear this out suggesting such fines are increasing and have risen by 35% since Grenfell.
The FIA Best Practice Guide to Fire Safety states: “Every year people die or are seriously injured as a result of fires in non-domestic properties. Besides the human risk, fire costs UK business millions of pounds due to property damage, fines, compensation, and insurance premiums. Many businesses find that they are not able to recover from the effects of a fire.”
Some well publicised fines include £200k on the AWE, £200k on the Radnor Hotel, £210k on the Chumleigh Lodge Hotel, £210k on the CoOp, £300k on Shell International and a substantial £400k on New Look following a fire at their Oxford Street store in 2007.
Whether we have considered this recently or not, it’s always a sobering thought.
So how safe are our buildings?
There are always things we can do to improve building fire safety, often for very little investment.
The FIA Guide notes that one key duty of the Responsible Person, either on their own or with any other Responsible Person “must do their best to make sure that everyone on the premises, or nearby, can escape safely if there is a fire. You should pay particular attention to people who may have a disability or anyone who may need special help.”
This is what Evaclite dynamic signage has been designed to address. It can make a significant difference to any building for as little as a few £000 improving evacuation efficiency and helping to better manage risk.
Evaclite signage is fully compliant, independently certified and easily retrofitted. In an emergency every second counts and, when compared with conventional signage, it has been proven that in an emergency it:
Is seen twice as easily
Gets people moving in the right direction in half the time
Reduces congestion at fire exits by over one third
Reduces the average exit time for every occupant by 18%.
It increases the ‘safety factor’ and a bigger safety factor might just make us sleep that little bit better.
Every day we consider what can be done to keep our people that little bit safer.
Perhaps now is the time to re-consider whether even simple compliance is truly sufficient and push harder for performance beyond compliance.
Exit Signage – can’t see, won’t see
Affordance & learned irrelevance
Conventional emergency exit signage suffers from two significant issues that severely compromises its performance:
Poor, or a lack of, ‘affordance’
Let’s tackle these in reverse order.
Also known as the pre-exposure effect, it may be described as the learning to ignore things that lack meaning or have no impact on us. We see it all the time, it doesn’t affect us so we don’t see it.
What does this mean for the performance of conventional signage? It means it doesn’t work at all well.
Summarily, we are unlikely to see it and if we do see it, we are unsure how to react to it causing us to be indecisive just when a quick, accurate decision matters most. This is important enough in simple wayfinding terms let alone when we are trying to find our way to safety in an emergency. This increases stress and more critically slows evacuation, increases risk and puts lives at risk.
These are not only key to the lack of performance of conventional emergency exit signage but are all also key to why Evaclite dynamic signage was designed the way it was.
It is designed to grab the attention and convey a clear, intuitive message that we know how to react to.
It has been proven to be seen twice as easily, help you make up your mind in half the time and get you moving in the right direction twice as quickly. It is the brighter, quicker and safer choice.
Tall Buildings: Why Dynamic Signage is no Longer Optional
A review of a recent webinar held with Fire Safety Matters Magazine Buildings are getting bigger. 2019 was a record year, with 26 structures built at 300 metres or higher. With the height of buildings increasing by the day, emergency evacuation has become less one dimensional and complex. An increase in building size creates an increase in complexity. The larger or taller the building is, the more complex the evacuation routes become making decision making more frequent and more critical increasing the time it takes for occupants to escape increasing risk accordingly. This is why dynamic signage is becoming a necessity, not an option.
Alan Ward, commercial director and dynamic signage expert at Evaclite explained the importance of dynamic signage and why it matters at a recent hour-long webinar with Fire Safety Matters magazine.
Let’s start with the basics, what’s the purpose of dynamic signage? Alan starts the webinar by painting a picture of a typical scenario of where and how dynamic signage comes into play: “We’re in a meeting in the office. The alarm goes off. What do we do? Well, we sit there for a while. We stare at each other. We wait to see what happens. We check that we have our phone and wallet to hand. Then we’ll make a decision as to whether to move and in which direction.”
Ward is referencing a few separate factors, specifically, the detection time, alarm time, recognition time, response time and the movement time.
Two types of escape time exist; there’s the required amount of time you have to exit the building in an emergency and the available time you have in reality, given the circumstances. The time you need versus the time you’ve got.
The difference between these two times is the safety factor (or risk interval). The available egress time will reduce if the fire worsens. Alan perfectly sums this up in this statement: “The available time minus the required time must be positive to be safe. In order to make buildings as safe as possible, fire engineers typically add-in a safety factor at the design stage and seek to make this as large as possible in order to reduce the risk for occupants. Dynamic signage increases that safety factor.”
Tall buildings are only getting taller In 1985 ISO adopted the ‘running man’ legend that we all know and recognise today. However, a lot has changed since then. In 1985 the tallest building in the world was The Sears Tower, in Chicago. The tower stands at 443 metres with 110 storeys. However, now the tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, standing at 828 metres with 162 floors or nearly twice as tall as the Sears Tower or three times the Eiffel Tower.
The EU framework, Project ‘Getaway’ and the stats During the interview, Alan referenced the EU Framework Project named ‘Getaway’. This experiment confirmed Evaclite’s belief; only 38% of us see emergency exit signs when exiting a building. Even if occupants do see the signs, there is a strong likelihood that they will either ignore them and/or simply go out the same way they came in.
Every second counts in an emergency. Larger buildings are three dimensional, of course, making exit decisions even more complicated. With passive signage, such a decision for example whether to go left or right or up or down typically takes 5.5 seconds every time an occupant sees a sign. Using dynamic signage, it is around 2.6 seconds so less than half the time.
Dynamic exit signs display a green pulsing arrow when a fire alarm is activated if the exit route is safe. If the exit route is obstructed or compromised and therefore unsafe, the sign will switch to a red cross. Dynamic signs enable quicker decision making and help ensure occupants head for the nearest, safest exit every time. The can lessen the average exit time per person by nearly one fifth (18%) and enable everyone to walk an average of 12% less distance to an exit.
Evaclite’s message hits home The EU framework project confirmed that twice as many people see a dynamic sign in an emergency than a static one. Dynamic signage also reduces congestion when exiting a building by over a third (36%) by ensuring everyone goes to their nearest, safest exit. Blue-chip brands such as AECOM, Barclays, CBRE, Premier Inn and Rolls-Royce also recognise the benefits of dynamic signage and are a few examples of some of the companies talking to Evaclite about dynamic signage.
On the day of the webinar, one of the most asked questions was ‘what are the key issues to be considered by end-users when deciding on the deployment of dynamic signage?’ Alan’s immediate response to this question was “What’s the cost to the host organisation of not making its building as safe as it could be?” and, “How important is the security and safety of the staff? In reality, there’s nothing more important. If an organisation knows an obvious way in which to improve its existing fire safety solutions, then why wouldn’t it?”
If the end-user is undecided on whether to implement dynamic signage, there’s a broader conversation to be had. Again, there are questions they must ask themselves. Alan questioned, “Do they realise the ineffective nature of the standard, passive emergency exit signage?” and, “What’s their attitude to risk? Is compliance (a minimum standard) enough, or are they looking for greater safety performance? Do they have a specific evacuation or safety problem?”
A proactive approach to fire safety The question that the end-user should ask themselves is this; ”Can I sleep well at night knowing that my building is safe enough, or, is there something more I can do? Should I adopt a more proactive approach to making and keeping my people safe?” How would you feel if a fire or similar emergency occurred resulting in injury or even death and you knew that this may have been prevented for as little as a few thousand?
Assuming the end-user has direct responsibility for a building or a business, do they understand the liability they carry with regards to building safety? Are they aware that, if a catastrophic blaze happens and deaths and injuries ensue, they can be held personally accountable with the potential of an unlimited fine and even a prison sentence should they be found wanting? It’s a grounding thought, but also reaffirms the importance of having the correct safety system in place.
What do the standards say? There is a clear trend in British Standards towards dynamic signage becoming the norm. In May 2016, BS 5266-1 started to reference developments in emergency lighting applications and technology. In June last year, Clause 14 of BS 7273-6 spoke about lighting, intelligent signage and wayfinding. The clause states: “In addition, if dynamic safety sign systems are used to direct users towards escape routes that are still safe and away from those contaminated by smoke or fire, then the information from the fire detection and fire alarm system is one of the major control inputs.”
There is no doubt that British Standards are pointing towards all emergency exit signs being made dynamic. Based on the points made in this webinar alone, it’s difficult to argue with that end game.
So why wait? Make your people safer by specifying or buying dynamic signage today. If you’d like to find out more, watch the full free webinar in conjunction with FSM, click here to view the webinar on-demand now.