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The Area of Refuge Two-Way Communication System: What to Know About Refuge Requirements

Area of Refuge

As you likely know, outside of specific exceptions, all buildings require an area of refuge (or accessible means of egress) per the International Building Code.  Moreover, aside from simply being a code requirement, areas of refuge are essential when it comes to emergency preparedness and keeping your tenants safe, as the purpose of this refuge area is to provide a location that will safely hold tenants in the event of a fire or other emergency when evacuation may not be safe or possible. For more information on the actual area of rescue, see our blog post: Your Best Options for an Area of Refuge.

An essential component of this designated space is the area of refuge two-way communication system, also required and regulated by NFPA standards.

Enhance Your Property’s Life Safety: Get the Most Reliable Response for Your Area of Refuge Phones

Our best-in-class emergency monitoring solutions provide peace of mind and are backed by decades of expertise.

Area of Refuge Callbox Components

These systems consists of three components:

  1. A call box in the designated area of rescue location
  2. A location for the base station, or the central control point where the refuge call can be answered and rescue assistance can be provided (this is located onsite at the building)
  3. Required signage providing instructions
Area of Refuge Callbox Components

The Importance of Your Area of Refuge Systems & Rescue Assistance

As you might imagine, your area of rescue systems are absolutely crucial to get your tenants the rescue assistance they need in dire situations when they have no other access to help. Code designates that your area of rescue call system first rings to the onsite Base Station. Any call that goes unanswered must forward to a 3rd party station monitoring center that can dispatch the appropriate rescue personnel and will remain on the line until that help has arrived onsite.

In order to prioritize your building’s overall life safety, special care must be applied when considering both Base Station protocols as well as who will be responsible for addressing your property’s emergency in the event no one at the Base Station is able to answer. These should not be treated as simple checklist items to appease the code gods, but rather, they should be viewed for what they are: difference-makers in life-or-death scenarios.

If your building is in a state in which it is unsafe to evacuate, it’s important to be aware of the fact that the chances of your Base Station also being compromised are high. In this case, the safety net of the call stations that the call will forward to is vital. One’s first instinct might be to direct these calls to 911, but in actuality, there are some shortcomings that come along with this option, including response time. Learn more: 7 Reasons 911 Should Not Be Your First Emergency Call.

The Answer: Our Refuge Communication Systems Monitoring Solution

For customers that utilize our two-way communication system for either their elevators or their pools (or both), Kings III offers area of refuge two-way emergency communication as well, utilizing the same best-in-class emergency monitoring. Our solution includes both 24/7/365 emergency monitoring as well as a 2N cellular device for dial tone, as needed.

Why Use Kings III Monitoring for Your Refuge Communication Systems and Rescue Assistance?

Short answer? It just makes sense. As always, our aim is for your emergency phones to be reliable in any situation and to allow for a proper incident response as well as proper follow-up. Since its inception in 1989, Kings III’s only business has been emergency communication solutions. Our operators are Advanced Emergency Medical Dispatcher (AEMD) certified and all operators are Red Cross CPR trained and HIPAA compliant to assure you have the best-trained response team 24/7/365. AEMD is a higher level of certification than is often required in 911 emergency response centers. The level of both initial and ongoing training our operators receive results in unmatched preparation to professionally respond to any emergency call.

Additionally, we can provide aid to callers in over 175 languages which can prove invaluable. Even for callers who speak English as a second language, the ability to receive aid in their native language, particularly in a time of duress, further puts the caller at ease and helps to ensure they are receiving proper assistance.

The systems used in our Emergency Dispatch Center enable automatic identification of the correct Responding Authority, Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), based on the location of the user. This is no small feat with more than 6,000 PSAPs across the U.S. In addition to having a highly trained staff, the dispatch center uses sophisticated hardware and automation software to digitally record, date and time stamp each call which may be replayed on request and emailed as .WAV files for company records or to be submitted as evidence in a dispute.

24/7 monitoring solution

What about accidental dials and false alarms, perceived as false or otherwise? One of the many benefits of Kings III’s emergency monitoring service is that it allows us to mitigate false alarms and prevent them from tying up vital resources such as police, firefighters, and EMS. Rest assured, however, that if there are any issues with communication during the call, if we can hear the caller but he or she cannot hear us, we do not stop until we can ensure that no emergency exists. If any of the scenarios above occur and we cannot verify whether everything is alright through the phone that was activated, we take special measures.

Learn more about our process here.

Reliable Emergency Response for All Vulnerable Property Areas

Refuge communications requirements are specific and distinct due to the nature of the area in which they are located. However, it’s also important to provide locations within a building with reliable two-way communication systems outside of these refuge areas. While these areas may be handled slightly differently, Kings III offers our emergency response solution for all vulnerable enclosures within your property. See our information on all emergency help phones here.

Seconds count. We know because we’ve been making them count when it matters most for over 30 years. With Kings III, you have the comfort of knowing that your tenant’s call will not only be answered quickly but will be answered by someone who can provide pre-arrival medical instruction. So when misfortune happens, Kings III monitoring offers a reliable, cost-effective solution with an added layer of risk and liability reduction.

Commonly Asked Questions About Area of Refuge Communication Systems

  • What is an area of refuge communication system and how does it work?
    These systems consist of a two-way communication phone located in a means of egress, an onsite Base Satation location to which calls are directed, and a 3rd party monitoring station. When an emergency occurs that requires migration to the area of refuge, users can press the button on the area of refuge call box to receive help addressing the emergency. Calls placed from an AOR phone rings to the onsite Base Station. Calls that go unanswered, forward to a 3rd party monitoring station or 911. The pre-recorded location identification message will play twice. When 2-way communication is established, the dispatcher will stay on the line until rescue personal has arrived on site and reached the Base Station to disconnect the monitoring company from call. The call between emergency service and the distressed party will carry on as rescue personnel continue with evacuation procedure.
  • What does an area of refuge mean?
    An area of refuge, also known as an area of rescue or a means of egress, is a designated location within a facility used for holding occupants safely from fire or other emergencies, when evacuation may not be safe or possible. This designated area must be fire-resistant and protected from smoke with clear identification.
  • What are the code requirements for an area of refuge communication system in buildings?
    Generally, your local fire codes cover area of refuge emergency phones but they are also addressed in the International Building Code.
  • How are areas of refuge communication systems maintained and tested for reliability?
    This answer will vary based on your local fire codes, but at a minimum, they should be tested annually, checking for verification of location and condition.
  • What is a two-way communication device for an area of refuge?
    An two-way communication device for an area of refuge consists of a two-way communication phone located in a means of egress, an onsite Base Satation location to which calls are directed, and a 3rd party monitoring station. When an emergency occurs that requires migration to the area of refuge, users can press the button on the communication system to receive help addressing the emergency.
  • What are the benefits of having an area of refuge call box in a building?
    Well for one, having an area of refuge call box in a building allows you to comply to specific code standards! Aside from that, these communication systems are crucial components of building life safety and a key way for occupants to access help in critcal situations.

Our best-in-class emergency monitoring solutions provide peace of mind and are backed by decades of expertise.