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What is Area of Refuge and when is it required?

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Huntley, IL.  – January, 11th 2020

What is Area of Refuge?

An area of refuge is a location in a building designed to hold occupants with mobility challenges to wait for assistance from fire or other first responders in the event of a fire or other emergency when evacuation may not be safe or possible. Buildings with barriers to exit are required to have these designated locations offering protection for occupants and communication with firefighters or emergency personnel. A great example of when Area of Refuge would be required would be any multi-level building with an elevator or stairwell(s). In an event of a fire building occupants and guest may not be able to use a stairwell for safe evacuation.



How do I find an Area of Refuge within a building?

Signage outside the area of refuge will indicate the direction of the designated location of the AOR and the signage is accessible by the visually impaired. 

What are the Size Requirements for Area of Refuge?

According to the Illinois Accessibility Code 506.6 Each area of refuge shall be sized to accommodate one wheelchair space of 30 inches by 48 inches (762 mm by 1219 mm) for each 200 occupants or portion thereof, based on the occupant load of the area of refuge and areas served by the area of refuge. Such wheelchair spaces shall not reduce the means of egress minimum width or required capacity. Access to any of the required wheelchair spaces in an area of refuge shall not be obstructed by more than one adjoining wheelchair space. An area of refuge is typically supplied with a steady supply of fresh or filtered outside air and shall be designed to minimize the intrusion of smoke.

What are the Communication Requirements needed for the Area of Refuge?

According to the Illinois Accessibility Code 506.8.1 Emergency Two-way communication systems shall provide communication between each required location and the fire command center or a central control point location approved by the fire department. Where the central control point is not a constantly attended location, a two-way communication system shall have a timed automatic telephone dial-out capability to a monitoring location or 9-1-1. The two-way communication system shall include both audible and visible signals. the signage will be equipped with directions for the use of the two-way communication system, instructions for summoning assistance via the two-way communication system and written identification of the location shall be posted adjacent to the two-way communication system. Signage shall comply with 703.5 for visual characters. 




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