Area of Refuge Codes & Requirements

Area of Refuge System Requirements are Specified by three organizations

NFPA
National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
ADAAG
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibilities Guidelines
IBC
International Building Codes

NFPA - National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code

101 section 7.2

  • Each Area of Refuge must be provided with a two-way communication system between the Area of Refuge and a central control point (AlphaRefuge Command Centers).
  • Each Area of Refuge must be identified by a sign stating "AREA OF REFUGE" and displaying the international symbol of accessibility.
  • Signs must be installed at all exits not providing accessible means of egress and where otherwise necessary to clearly indicate the direction of the Area of Refuge.

72 section 24:

  • 24.5.3.2 The Area of Refuge (rescue assistance) emergency communications system shall be comprised of remotely located Area of Refuge stations and a central control point. (AlphaRefuge Command Centers)
  • 24.5.3.3 The remote Area of Refuge stations and the central control point (AlphaRefuge Command Centers) shall communicate with each other.
  • 24.5.3.4 If the central control point is not constantly attended, it shall have a timed automatic communications capability to connect with a constantly attended monitoring location acceptable to the Authority Having Jurisdiction where responsible personnel can initiate the appropriate response.
  • 24.5.3.5 The physical location of the central control point (AlphaRefuge Command Centers) shall be as designated by the building code in force or the Authority Having Jurisdiction.
  • 24.5.3.6 The Area of Refuge station shall provide for hands-free, two-way communication, provide an audible and visible signal to indicate communication has occurred and indicate to the receiver the location sending the signal.
  • 24.5.3.7 Instructions for the use of the two-way communications system and for summoning assistance via the two-way communications system and written identification, including Braille, of the location shall be posted adjacent to the two-way communications system.

Two-Way Communication Requirements

  • 24.10.1: Where required by the building code in force, an area of rescue assistance two-way communications system shall be installed in accordance with 24.10.
  • 24.10.2: The area of refuge (rescue assistance) emergency communications systems shall be comprised of remotely located area of refuge stations and a central control point.
  • 24.10.5: If the central control point is not constantly attended, it shall have a timed automatic communications capability to connect with a constantly attended monitoring location acceptable to the Authority Having Jurisdiction where responsible personnel can initiate the appropriate response.
  • 24.10.6: The physical location of the central control point shall be as designated by the building code in force or the Authority Having Jurisdiction.
  • 24.10.8: Instructions for the use of the two-way communications system, instructions for summoning assistance via the two-way communications system, and written identifications, including in braille, of the location shall be posted adjacent to the two-way communication system

Supervision Requirements:

  • 24.10.4: All pathways between remote area of refuge stations and the central control point shall be monitored for integrity.
  • 24.13.4: Power Supplies- All control units shall meet the power supply requirements of section 10.6s.
  • 10.6.9: Monitoring Integrity of Power Supplies.
    • 10.6.9.1: Unless otherwise permitted or required by 10.6.9.1.3 and 10.6.9.1.6 all primary and secondary power supplies shall be monitored for the presence of voltage at the point of connection to the system.
    • 10.6.9.1.1: Failure of either the primary or secondary power supply shall result in a trouble signal in accordance with section 10.14.
    • 10.6.7.2.1: The secondary power supply (battery backup) shall have sufficient capacity to operate the system under quiescent load (system operating in a nonalarm condition) for a minimum of 24 hours and, at the end of that period, shall be capable of operating all alarm notification appliances used for evacuation or to direct aid to the location of an emergency for 5 minutes.

Cable Requirements:

  • 24.3.13.9.1: Area of refuge emergency communications systems shall have a pathway survivability of Level 2 or Level 3 (Level 1 is permitted if where the building is less than 2-hour fire rated construction).
  • 12.4.3 Pathway Survivability Level 2: Shall consist of one or more of the following:
    1. 2-hour fire rated circuit integrity (CI) or fire-resistive cable.
    2. 2-hour fire-rated cable system (electrical circuit protective systems).
    3. 2-hour fire-rated enclosure or protected area.
    4. performance alternatives approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction.
  • 12.4.4 Pathway Survivability Level 3: Shall consist of pathways in buildings that are fully protected by an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with NFPA13 and one or more of the following:
    1. 2-hour fire rated circuit integrity (CI) or fire-resistive cable.
    2. 2-hour fire-rated cable system (electrical circuit protective systems).
    3. 2-hour fire-rated enclosure or protected area.
    4. performance alternatives approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction.

Testing Requirements:

  • Table 14.3.1 #25: "Periodic testing frequency" - Annual

Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibilities Guidelines

  • The Area of Refuge must be equipped with a two-way communication system with both visual and audible signals provided in each Area of Refuge assistance. The Area of Refuge must have adequate signage that directs the occupants to the area. The ADA guidelines apply to new buildings and significant remodels for public accommodations and commercial facilities with stories above or below the main ground floor.
  • ADAAG 3.5 Defines the Area of Rescue Assistance as an area which has direct access to an exit, where people who are unable to use stairs may remain temporarily in safety to await further instructions or assistance during emergency evacuation.
  • Audible signals can include voice output or recorded messages. A button that lights to indicate that help is on its way is an acceptable visual signal.
This information is intended solely as a guide to the best information we have on hand as of the effective date below. It is the customer's responsibility to check with their state and local authorities (AHJs) to determine which IBC code version is being enforced and what system features are required, before quoting or ordering any of our AlphaRefuge™ systems.

International Building Code

There were no significant changes to the 2-way communication requirements from the IBC 2009 to the IBC 2012.

    Area of Refuge Call Boxes may require protective covers in these areas!
Note: The International Building Code (IBC) now requires a two-way communication system in all new construction regardless if they have a sprinkler system or not. Also, significant remodels or change of use of a building may require Areas of Refuge.
  • 1009.6 Areas of Refuge. Every required Area of Refuge shall be accessible from the space it serves by an accessible means of egress.
  • 1009.6.1 Travel distance. The maximum travel distance from any accessible space to an Area of Refuge shall not exceed the exit access travel distance permitted for the occupancy in accordance with Section 1017.1.
  • 1009.6.2 Stairway or Elevator Access. Every required Area of Refuge shall have direct access to a stairway complying with Sections 1009.3 and 1023 or an elevator complying with Section 1009.4.
  • 1009.6.3 Size. 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.
  • 1009.6.4 Separation. Each Area of Refuge shall be separated from the remainder of the story by a smoke barrier complying with Section 709 or a horizontal exit complying with Section 1026. Each Area of Refuge shall be designed to minimize the intrusion of smoke.
    • Exceptions:
      1. Areas of Refuge located within an enclosure for interior exit stairways complying with Section 1023.
      2. Area(s) of Refuge in outdoor facilities where exit access is essentially open to the outside.
  • 1009.6.5 Two-way Communication. Area of Refuge shall be provided with a two-way communication system complying with Sections 1009.8.l and 1009.8.2.
  • 1009.7 Exterior Areas for Assisted Rescue. Exterior areas for assisted rescue shall be accessed by an accessible route from the area served. Where the exit discharge does not include an accessible route from an exit located on the level of exit discharge to a public way, an exterior area of assisted rescue shall be provided on the exterior landing in accordance with Sections 1009.7.1 through 1009.7.4.
  • 1009.7.1 Size. Each exterior area for assisted rescue shall be sized to accommodate wheelchair spaces in accordance with Section 1009.6.3.
  • 1009.7.2 Separation. Exterior walls separating the exterior area of assisted rescue from the interior of the building shall have a minimum fire-resistance rating of 1 hour, rated for exposure to fire from the inside. The fire-resistance-rated exterior wall construction shall extend horizontally 10 feet (3048 mm) beyond the landing on either side of the landing or equivalent fire-resistance-rated construction is permitted to extend out perpendicular to the exterior wall 4 feet ( 1220 mm ) minimum on the side of the landing. The fire-resistance-rated construction shall extend vertically from the ground to a point 10 feet (3048 mm) above the floor level of the Area for Assisted Rescue or to the roof line, whichever is lower. Openings within such fire-resistance-rated exterior walls shall be protected in accordance with Section 716.
  • 1009.7.3 Openness. The exterior Area for Assisted Rescue shall be open to the outside air. The sides other than the separation walls shall be not less than 50 percent open, and the open area shall be distributed so as to minimize the accumulation of smoke or toxic gases.
  • 1009.7.4 Stairways. Stairways that are part of the means of egress for the exterior area for assisted rescue shall provide a clear width of 48 inches (1220 mm) between hand rails.
    • Exception: The clear width of 48 inches (1220 mm) between handrails is not required at stairways serving buildings equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system installed in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1 or 903.3.1.2.
  • 1009.8 Two-way Communication. A two-way communication system complying with Sections 1009.8.1 and 1009.8.2 shall be provided at the landing serving each elevator or bank of elevators on each accessible floor that is one or more stories above or below the level of exit discharge.
    • Exceptions:
      1. Two-way communication systems are not required at the landing serving each elevator or bank of elevators where the two-way communication system is provided within Areas of Refuge in accordance with Section 1009.6.5.
      2. Two-way communication systems are not required on floors provided with ramps conforming to the provisions of Section 1012.
      3. Two-way communication systems are not required at the landings serving only service elevators that are not designated as part of the accessible means of egress or serve as part of the required accessible route into a facility.
      4. Two-way communication systems are not required at the landings serving only freight elevators.
      5. Two-way communication systems are not required at the landing serving a private residence elevator.
  • 1009.8.1 System requirements. 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.
  • 1009.8.2 Directions. 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 the ICC A 117.1 requirements for visual characters.
  • 1009.9 Signage. Signage indicating special accessibility pro visions shall be provided as shown:
    • Each door providing access to an Area of Refuge an adjacent floor area shall be identified by a sign stating: AREA OF REFUGE.
    • Each door providing access to an exterior area for assisted rescue shall be identified by a sign stating: EXTERIOR AREA FOR ASSISTED RESCUE.
    • Signage shall comply with the ICC A 117.1 requirements for visual characters and include the International Symbol of Accessibility. Where exit sign illumination is required by Section 1013.3, the signs shall be illuminated. Additionally, visual characters, raised character and braille signage complying with ICC A 117.1 shall be located at each door to an Area of Refuge and exterior Area for Assisted Rescue in accordance with Section 1013.4.
  • 1009.10 Directional Signage. Directional Signage indicating the location of all other means of egress and which of those are accessible means of egress shall be provided at the following:
    • At exits serving a required accessible space but not providing an approved accessible means of egress.
    • At elevator landings.
    • Within Area(s) of Refuge.
  • 1009.11 Instructions. In Areas of Refuge and exterior Areas for Assisted Rescue, instructions on the use of the area under emergency conditions shall be posted. Signage shall comply with the ICC A 117.1 requirements for visual characters. The instructions shall include all of the following:
    • Persons able to use the exit stairway do so as soon as possible, unless they are assisting others.
    • Information on planned availability of assistance in the use of stairs or supervised operation of elevators and how to summon such assistance.
    • Directions for use of the two-way communication system where provided.

There were no significant changes to the 2-way communication requirements from the IBC 2009 to the IBC 2012.

  • Section 1007.7 was added to the IBC 2012 to better define Exterior Areas for Assisted Rescue which was very vague in the IBC 2009

2009 International Building Code (IBC) requires a two-way communication system for all Area(s) of Refuge in New Construction, Significant Remodels or Change of Building Use, regardless if they have a sprinkler system or not

  • 1007.3 Exit stairways. In order to be considered part of an accessible means of egress, an exit stairway shall have a clear width of 48 inches (1219mm) minimum between handrails and shall either incorporate an area of refuge within an enlarged floor-level landing or shall be accessed from either an area of refuge complying with Section 1007.6 or a horizontal exit.
    • Exceptions:
      1. Unenclosed exit stairways as permitted by Section 1020.1 are permitted to be considered part of an accessible means of egress.
      2. The area of refuge is not required at unenclosed exit stairways as permitted by Section 1020.1 in buildings or facilities that are equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system installed in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1.
      3. Areas of refuge are not required at exit stairways serving open parking garages.
  • 1007.6.3 Two-Way Communication. Areas of Refuge shall be provided with a two-way communication system complying with Sections 1007.8.1 and 1007.8.2.
  • 1007.8 Two-Way Communication. A two-way communication system shall be provided at the elevator landing on each accessible floor that is one or more stories above or below the story of exit discharge complying with Sections 1007.8.1 and 1007.8.2.
    • Exceptions:
      1.) Two-way communication systems are not required at the elevator landing where the two-way communication system is provided within areas of refuge in accordance with section 1007.6.3 (Stairwell Areas of Refuges)
  • 1007.8.1 System Requirements. Two-way communications shall provide communication between each required location (AlphaRefuge Command Centers) and the fire command center or central control point location (AlphaRefuge Command Centers) approved by the fire department. Where the central control point is not constantly attended, a two-way communication system shall have a timed automatic telephone dial-out capability to a monitoring location or 911. The two-way communication system shall include both audible and visible signals. (Note: Most local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) require two way off-site person to person voice communications)
  • 1007.8.2 Directions. Directions (Part #RSN7049) 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.
  • 1007.9 Signage. Signage indicating special accessibility provisions shall be provided as shown:
    • Each door providing access to an area of refuge from the adjacent floor shall be identified by a sign stating: AREA OF REFUGE (Part #RSN7044)
    • Signage shall comply with the ICC A117.1 requirements for visual characters and include the International Symbol of Accessibility. Where exit sign illumination is required by Section 1011.2, the signs shall be illuminated. (Part #RSN7050) Additionally, tactile signage complying with ICC A117.1 shall be located at each door to an Area of Refuge. (Part #RSN7044)
  • 1007.10 Directional Signage.
    • Direction signage indicating the location of the other means of egress and which are accessible means of egress shall be provided at the following: (Part #RSN7047L or #RSN7047R)
      1. At exits serving a required accessible space but not providing an approved accessible means of egress
      2. At Elevator Landings
      3. Within Areas of Refuge
  • 1007.11 Instructions. In areas of refuge and exterior areas for assisted rescue, instructions on the use of the area under emergency conditions shall be posted. The instructions shall include all of the following: (Part #RSN7049)
    1. Persons able to use the exit stairway do so as soon as possible, unless they are assisting others.
    2. Information on planned availability of assistance in the use of stairs or supervised operation of elevators and how to summon such assistance.
    3. Directions for use of the two-way communications system where provided.
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