Areas of Refuge

7m 59s

In this ARE 5.0 NCARB-approved Project Development and Documentation Exam Prep course you will learn about the topics covered in the ARE 5.0 PDD exam division. A complete and comprehensive curriculum, this course will touch on each of the NCARB objectives for the ARE 5.0 Project Development and Documentation Exam.

Instructor Mike Newman will discuss issues related to the development of design concepts, the evaluation of materials and technologies, selection of appropriate construction techniques, and appropriate construction documentation.

When you are done with this course, you will have a thorough understanding of the content covered in the ARE 5.0 Project Development and Documentation Exam including integration of civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and specialty systems into overall project design and documentation.

So we were just talking about areas of refuge, the idea that I have a place to go that's gonna be a safer place than just a corridor or in the tenant's space, or somewhere in the sort of general part of the building. There's gotta be someplace for somebody who can't use the stairwell. So people on wheelchairs, people with walkers, those kinds of things. And there should be some ability for them to have a communication tool at that spot to be able to let somebody know that there they are. So just to make sure we're all talking the same language, let's think about what a typical exit stair might look like.

I may have a space with a door that's swinging in onto the landing. It's gonna be a distance off from that. My stairs are gonna start and the travel path will be sort of roughly done like this.

It's a little different in different ways, but it's essentially that sort of simple arc that's just brought right around. So it's the same width as it goes through. In certain situations, you're allowed to take some of that travel path and discount. It's okay if there's a little bit of overlap. So sometimes it's 75%, sometimes it's 90% of that travel path must be left fully open.

If you're designing I would just always try to leave 100% of the travel path just to always be a little bit safe. And then this door wants to not interfere with that travel path. You imagine somebody's coming running down the stair and as they're going by somebody else, "Oh my god, it's an emergency." They're running into that stairwell and bang, you got somebody knocked out on the floor while there's already an emergency happening. So the whole point here is to sort of separate that travel path from the opening of that door and any other kind of element like that.

So we talked about the area of refuge. So you imagine somebody coming in in a wheelchair and they're kind of rolling in here, and they're kind of sitting right here while they're waiting for somebody to come and get them. So there's the person sitting there kind of trying to be out of the way, but they're right in the way of all these folks trying to travel around and get out of this situation.

So the area of refuge wants to be outside of that travel path. So a better example would be, in that situation. So if we imagine that door's there, we're in the same space and maybe we start with the area of refuge, which is just a zone that's set aside for somebody to be able to pull up in a wheelchair.

And that zone is gonna be 30 inches by 48 inches. And there's nothing magical about that size. Not every person in a wheelchair will perfectly fit within a 30 by 48 space. It's just that it's sort of close enough that most people in a wheelchair will fit into that spot and it gives them enough room to kind of pull in and do what they need to get out of the way. Kind of go back, shimmy back and forth a little bit maybe to kind of get out of the way of the travel path.

But it's sort of close enough that we're sort of okay and willing to kind of go with that. And then we'd start to think about that travel path. And there's where our stair really is starting. So I've got the door swing is one issue. I've got the area of refuge is another issue. And then somewhere in this zone of the area of refuge there would be the little intercom element that would have either a button that would say send a signal that says, "I'm here, "please do something about it." Or it would literally be an intercom which you could press a button and somebody would be able to speak with you.

It'd be actual back and forth communication so they could let you know what was going on. But these sets of relationships are really important to make sure that you're maintaining so that somebody can come in there, get out of the way, the travel path is unimpeded or at least unimpeded to the level that the code allows you to keep it unimpeded by.

And everybody has their place to be and be safe. There are certain situations where you're not required to put in an area of refuge, it's just not expected to come up that much in very small scale buildings and situations where it's just not likely to happen. There's gonna be other situations where we might be required to have more than one area of refuge. You might be required to have two or even three areas of refuge. For example, a theater space might require something like that.

So at some point it might not be reasonable to consider as part of the landing of a exit stair, you might actually need to move the area of refuge out of the stairwell and kind of give it it's own area. One thing to note that if you were gonna have a situation where you need to push that area of refuge off to the side. So for example you're gonna have somebody go in straight into that space, you have to give them more space than just that 30 by 48 because they need to be able to get their elbows to be able to roll in and roll out, so that becomes a larger space.

Nobody's gonna ask you that specifically what size that needs to be. The number to remember is the 30 by 48. Just know that if it's not an area of refuge in a larger space where it's relatively easy to manoevre you have to kind of rethink those numbers in order to have it make sense. So one was the niche going straight in and the other one would be a niche that you're parallel parking in. If you kind of imagine being in a wheelchair and kind of parallel parking in and then pulling forward, like you would with a car, well actually you need a little bit more than the 48 inches in order to be able to do that.

So if it's part of a larger open space like this one is, I just need the 30 by 48. If I'm kind of tucking people into these awkward niches well then I have to kind of rethink it and imagine how would they physically get in and get out from those spots and make sure we're leaving enough room. It's already weird enough for the idea to be that the best way that we can get people out of a building when they're in a wheelchair or with a walker or something, is to wait until a big, burly fireperson can run up the stairs and carry them down the stairs.

It's kind of amazing that that's our big technological answer to this. But imagine if you didn't have that communication tool in that location. Imagine how alone you would feel in that, when there was an alarm going off and people were telling you there was a fire. If you didn't have some ability to say, "I'm here, "please come get me." That would be a very big deal.

It's one thing as well to be in the stairwell where everybody else is using that stair, and people see you and they'd likely be able to help or tell people to help you. But if I have my area of refuge in a different location. If I have a special room that would be considered my area of refuge, well clearly if there's a fire, you're gonna want that door to be closed. Nobody running down the corridor or going to the stairwell is gonna know that you're there. In those situations, there absolutely must be an intercom system so that you can make sure that people would be able to find out that you're there.

So the specifics of the area of refuge, how many you need, that would all be part of the code. The size of it is generally 30 by 48, unless it's one of these other strange setups that's not just in the open space. And that there should be some way of alerting people that somebody needs some assistance from that area of refuge.

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From the course:
ARE 5.0 Project Development & Documentation Exam Prep

Duration: 36h 18m

Author: Mike Newman