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Evacuation Plans for People Requiring Assistance

There are many types of health conditions and impairments that may affect a person’s ability to safely evacuate a building, including those who:

  • are children;
  • are pregnant;
  • require the use of a wheelchair, walker, crutches or cane;
  • have temporary conditions (e.g. recovery after surgery, breaks or sprains);
  • have vision and/or hearing impairments;
  • have breathing problems;
  • have visible or hidden disabilities;
  • are prone to severe excitability or suffering from claustrophobia; and/or
  • have any limitation that would make using stairwells dangerous to themselves or other evacuees.

Fire wardens are responsible for identifying such persons in advance of an emergency, and must retain an updated list at all times. If you are a person who may require assistance during a building evacuation or drill, please take note of the  (google sheet) fire warden (external link)  for your area.

For employees with disabilities

Employees are responsible for identifying accommodations needed in the event of an emergency related to a disability that may not be apparent, such as a mental health or chronic condition. However, employees do not need to disclose the particulars of their disability or condition.

This information is discussed between the employee and their leader. Discussion is also required if the working location or job changes, or if an employee experiences any temporary or permanent changes to their accommodation needs.

For leaders of employees with disabilities

Leaders have an important responsibility to discuss emergency information and procedures with all new employees (including internal transfers and promotions), as soon as possible after their start date as part of the onboarding process.

As part of this discussion, employees with disabilities and their leaders should work together to identify any individualized needs related to emergency information and procedures. Discussion is also required if the working location or job changes, or if an employee becomes disabled, whether temporarily (e.g. broken leg) or permanently. To respond to any changing needs, leaders need to review and document individual emergency plans at least once a year.

What you need to do

Completing the Individualized Accommodation Plans for Emergencies Form

What you need to discuss

e.g. Classrooms, labs, cafeteria, meeting rooms.

e.g. For an audible-only alarm that does not alert someone who is Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing.

e.g. Can the fire alarm alarm pull station be reached and activated? Can the blue security pull station be reached and activated to summon security staff to the location? Can TMU Security be contacted by telephone? 

e.g. Evacuation of a building, power outage or being stuck in an elevator.

Discuss whether anyone else needs to be involved to work with the employee during an emergency.

Options may include:

  • identifying where to wait safely for help during an emergency if elevators cannot be used; and
  • advising emergency response teams such as TMU Security, building security in non-TMU buildings, firefighters and paramedics, that assistance is required for evacuation.

Options may include:

  • having a fire warden, leader or an Orientation and Mobility Instructor provide an orientation to the work location and its emergency features (e.g. location of alarm pull stations and emergency exits);
  • asking volunteers and/or fire wardens to account for and guide the employee during an emergency.

Emergency information should be accessible using JAWS, ZoomText, etc.

Options may include:

  • installing visual or vibrating alarms;
  • asking a lab manager, floor fire warden and/or co-worker to volunteer to provide individualized alerts during audible alarms or announcements and communications that would be accessible for people who are Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing, such as written instructions and/or clearly marked updated maps that are readily available in a portable format;
  • arranging for fire wardens and/or other emergency response teams to communicate instructions electronically, including using text message, Twitter or email, or communicating in writing using paper and a pen during an emergency.

Fire wardens should not assume all individuals who are Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing can lip-read or use voice to express themselves in spoken English. Ask the employee to identify their preferred method of communication and whether he/she has a preference around who to work with in an emergency.

Options may include:

  • orientation to evacuation routes to develop familiarity in advance of an emergency;
  • having a fire warden accompany the employee for the first few fire drills; and/or
  • having another employee volunteer to accompany the employee in emergency situations.

Also consider the following:

  • Someone with asthma may need help walking long distances or with stairs, especially if there is smoke, dust, fumes or chemicals in the air.
  • An employee may have a condition such as arthritis, weak knees or hips, or a temporary disability (e.g. a broken leg) that may make it difficult to move quickly down the stairs.
  • An employee with a disability that limits manual dexterity may not be able to pull a fire alarm.
  • A person with a mental health condition may have trouble dealing with high anxiety, panic or stress in an emergency.


Leaders and employees can contact their HR consultant or Heather Willis, accessibility coordinator at or 416-979-5000, ext. 4144.

For questions regarding building evacuations or drills, please contact the  (google sheet) fire warden (external link)  in your area or Environmental Health and Safety at or 416-979-5000, ext. 553770.