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Protected Elevators and the Disabled.

pdf icon Protected Elevators and the Disabled. (239 K)
Bukowski, R. W.

Fire Protection Engineering, 42,44-46,48-49, Fall 2005.


elevators (lifts); handicapped; stairways; water; fire fighters; egress; World Trade Center; evacuation; fire protection; pressurization; occupants; sprinklers; fire hoses


The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to provide equal access to public buildings for all Americans. An objective of the ADA regulations was to permit people with disabilities access to the places where they live, work, and play with little thought of how they would get out in case of emergency. Fifteen years later, the fire protection engineering community is still addressing this important issue. The purpose of this article is to present the issues that need to be addressed in the development of elevators that can be used in fires to safely evacuate occupants, particularly those with limited mobility that affects their ability to use stairs. The ADA accessibility requirements are intended to result in public buildings that can be accessed and used by people with a range of limitations including vision, hearing, and mobility. The guidelines provide for signs that include Braille markings, strobe lights and other visible warnings, and doors with powered openers that are wide enough for wheel-chairs. Smaller changes in elevation require ramps or platform lifts that eliminate barriers to wheelchair users.