Saturday, March 26, 2011

Area of Rescue Assistance

David wrote, “This sign is at the top of a stairway in one of our local schools. It has a wheelchair symbol and these words - Area of Rescue Assistance. No one can tell me what it means. What do you think it means?”

At first, I had to guess on this one. I figured that it might designate the visible spot to which wheelchair-bound persons are supposed to go during an emergency. From there, someone will see them and run up to rescue them by wheeling them down the stairs.

Then I went online to see if I could confirm this. The Concord, North Carolina, Fire Department's web site informs us that "Modern code-making organizations along with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) have mandated that areas in a building be constructed for physically disabled persons to enter and await fire department assistance during fire and emergency conditions. This area is known as an Area of Rescue Assistance."

That sounded as if the ADA wording had to be used, so I went straight to the Americans with Disability Act and found the following:

“III-7.5135 Areas of rescue assistance (ADAAG §4.1.3(9)). Areas of rescue assistance (safe areas in which to await help in an emergency) are generally required on each floor, other than the ground floor, of a multistory building. An accessible egress route or an area of rescue assistance is required for each exit required by the local fire code. Specific requirements are provided for such features as location, size, stairway width, and two-way communications. Areas of rescue assistance are not required in buildings with supervised automatic sprinkler systems, nor are they required in alterations.”

This often happens with legislation. Not only are certain procedures or actions mandated, but so are their names or titles. There’s little wiggle room.

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