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Escape travel distances

Further guidance regarding escape routes

This section provides further guidance on the general principles that apply to escape routes and provides examples of typical escape route solutions for a range of common building layouts. The guidance is based on premises of normal risk so if your premises (or part of your premises) are higher (or lower) risk you should adapt the solution accordingly.

Travel distances

Having established the number and location of people and the exit capacity required to evacuate them safely, you now need to confirm that the number and location of existing exits is adequate. This is normally determined by the distance people have to travel to reach them.

In new buildings which have been designed and constructed in accordance with modern building standards the travel distances will already have been calculated. Once you have completed your fire risk assessment you need to confirm that those distances are still relevant.

When assessing travel distances you need to consider the distance to be travelled by people when escaping, allowing for walking around furniture or display material etc.

The distance should be measured from all parts of the premises (e.g. from the most remote part of an office or shop on any floor) to the nearest place of reasonable safety which is:

A protected stairway enclosure (a storey exit)
A separate fire compartment from which there is a final exit to a place of total safety.
The nearest available final exit

Suggested travel distances

Where more than one escape route is provided:

25m in higher fire-risk area.
45M in normal fire-risk area.
60m in lower fire-risk area.

Where only a single escape route is provided:

12m in higher fire-risk area.
18m in normal fire-risk area.
25m in lower fire-risk area.

The travel distances given above are based on those recommended in Approved Document B of the Building Regulation and are intended to complement the other fire safety recommendations in Approved Document B. Your current escape route travel distances may be different from these since they may be based on recommendations made in alternative guidance.

Where your route leads to more than one final exit, but only allows initial travel in a single direction (e.g. from a room or dead end), then this initial travel distance should be limited to that for a "single escape route". However, your total travel distance should not exceed that for "more than one escape route".

Measuring travel distance

The route taken through a room or space will be determined by the layout of the contents e.g. work stations, aisle layout. It is good practice to ensure routes to the exits are kept as direct and short as possible. In small rooms there may only be one exit but in larger rooms or area there may be many exits.

In some cases where the contents are moved around or the space is liable to frequent change, e.g. in a storage area or where racking is moveable you should ensure that the exits, or the routes to them, do not become blocked or the length of the route is not significantly extended.