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Evacuation of Canal Boats


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Hi all,

I'm new here, but any advice would be appreciated.

I'm with a charity that provides canal boat trips to less able people.

On the back of the boat there are steps down into the passenger cabin which can be removed in order to use a lift for those who can't manage the stairs. On our largest boat, we could take 35 passengers, including up to 6 in wheelchairs. There would normally be 3 crew and a handful of carers who would come with the group. Beside the lift, there are steps to waist high exits on both sides at the front. 

I'm looking at evacuation in case of a fire. It often takes about 15 minutes to board everyone using the lift where necessary, but I have major concern over how long it would take us to evacuate in the case of a fire.


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This is a difficult one because of the restricted space, in a building you can ensure the escape route is wide enough to allow a wheelchair to pass and when it reaches the stairs you can construct refuge where disable persons can wait in safety until there are evacuated. 

On a canal boat you would have to make all the cabin the refuge enclosing it to a minimum half hour fire resisting standard and ensuring the fire risk is a low as possible. The lighting would have to be designed that any minor fault would trip the meter preventing a fire and the heating would have to be water or hot air again ensuring a low fire risk. If you could achieve a minimum of hour fire resistance between any fire risks and the, cabin then it could be considered a place of comparative safety and 15 minutes could be acceptable, which I am sure would be reduced in an emergency situation using all available exits.

Although not required by The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 you could consider a Fire Risk Assessment  by a competent FR assessor.

You also need to consider firefighting equipment, emergency lighting, smoke and CO alarms, etc.

Check out http://www.boatsafetyscheme.org/media/149757/fsg-2013-web.pdf


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