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A refuge area refers to a designated safe place or zone, usually in a building, where people can go in case of an emergency, such as a fire, earthquake, or other disaster, to await further instructions or assistance. The main purpose of a refuge areas is to provide a secure location for people to evacuate to in the event of a hazardous situation.

Refuge Area as per NBC – An area within the building for a temporary use during egress. It generally serves as a staging area which is protected from the effect of fire and smoke.

  • Refuge areas are such areas in a building where people can take shelter in case of a fire.
  • As per the building and construction norms these areas are clearly demarcated in building plans itself.
  • Refuge area provisions applies to both commercial and residential buildings which fall under the high-rise category for fire safety regulations.
  • The Refuge Area shall have a door which shall be painted or fixed with a sign in luminous paint mentioning REFUGE AREA”.
  • The lift/s shall not be permitted to open into the refuge areas.
  • The rules further states that refuge areas will be designated exclusively for the use of occupants as temporary shelter and for the use of Fire Brigade Department or any other Organization dealing with fire or other emergencies and also for exercises/drills if conducted by the Fire Brigade Department.
  • The proposed ‘refuge area’ shall be planned on the area facing the main road to allow access for Fire Engine.

1) Heights & Areas of Refuge area

  • Refuge areas shall be provided in buildings of height more than 24 m.
  • Refuge areas provided shall be planned to accommodate the occupants of two consecutive floors. 

” This shall consider occupants of the floor where refuge is provided and occupants of floor above” 

  • By considering area of 0.3 m2 per person for the calculated number of occupants and shall include additionally to accommodate one wheelchair space of an area of 0.9 m2 for every 200 occupants, portion thereof, based on the occupant load served by the area of refuge or a minimum of 15 m2, whichever is higher, shall be provided as under:
  1. The refuge areas shall be provided on the periphery of the floor and open to air at least on one side protected with suitable railings.
  2. Refuge area(s) shall be provided at/or immediately above 24 m and thereafter at every 15 m or so.

2) Sign-ages

  • A prominent sign bearing the words “REFUGE AREA” shall be installed at the entry of the refuge areas, having height of letters of minimum 75 mm and also containing information about the location of refuge areas on the floors above and below this floor.
  • The same sign-age shall also be conspicuously located within the refuge areas.

3) Ventilation

  • Each refuge areas shall be ventilated and provided with first aid box, fire extinguishers, public address speaker, fire man talk back, and adequate emergency lighting as well as drinking water facility.

4) Accessibility

  • Refuge areas shall be approachable from the space they serve by an accessible means of egress.

5) Other requirements

  • Refuge areas shall connect to firefighting shaft (comprising fireman’s lift, lobby and staircase) without having the occupants requiring to return to the building spaces through which travel to the area of refuge occurred.
  • The refuge area shall always be kept clear.
  • No storage of combustible products and materials, electrical and mechanical equipment, etc. shall be allowed in such areas.
  • Refuge area shall be provided with adequate drainage facility to maintain efficient storm water disposal.
  • Entire refuge areas shall be provided with sprinklers.
  • Where there is a difference in level between connected areas for horizontal exits, ramps of slope not steeper than 1 in 12 shall be provided (and steps should be avoided).


  1. Refuge areas provided in excess of the requirements shall be counted towards FAR.
  2. High rise apartment buildings with apartments having balcony, need not be provided with refuge areas; however, apartment buildings without balcony shall provide refuge area as given above.
  3. Refuge areas for apartment buildings of height above 60 m. while having balconies shall be provided at 60 m and thereafter at every 30 m.
  4. The refuge areas shall be an area equivalent to 0.3 m2 per person for accommodating occupants of two consecutive floors, where occupant load shall be derived on basis of 12.5 m2 of gross floor area and additionally 0.9 m2 for accommodating wheelchair requirement or shall be 15 m2, whichever is higher.

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1 Comment

  1. Hai,
    I would like to understand the refuge floor staircase door opening direction.
    Is the staircase door to open towards stair in refuge floor OR towards floor.
    As the refuge is only a staging area / temporary evacuation area, the prime requirement of occupant will be to reach open public area. In my view, the door shall open towards exit, that is staircase. Not towards floor.
    Door of the refuge area shall open towards refuge area.

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