Evacuation Planning

Evacuation Planning

Below is a guide for the development of fire evacuation plans. The guide is to be used for all emergency, safety, and evacuation plans. Following the guide will meet the requirements of the International Fire Code. For your convenience in developing your own plan, we have also included several example evacuation plans for apartment buildings and a restaurant/bar. Within the Apartment Evacuation Plan Example you will find examples for 4-unit, 8-unit, and 16-unit apartment complexes. Each apartment example includes a Fire Evacuation & Safety Plan, along with a sample Evacuation Floor Plan. All the plans provided are For Example Only. Once you have finalized the plan(s) for your facility, please forward a copy to the Lower Valley Fire Prevention Department. The fire department will review the plan to ensure it satisfies the requirements of the guide. Planning is only the first step in emergency preparedness. Employees and managers need to be trained on how to respond to emergencies. Responsibilities, accountability methods and consequences must be conveyed. Finally, the plan must be practiced to ensure that the plan works.

 Guide for the Development of Fire Evacuation Plans

Attached is a guide for the development of fire evacuation plans. This guide is to be used for all emergency, safety, and evacuation plans.  Following the guide will meet the requirements of the International Fire Code. Once you have finalized the plan(s) for your facility, please forward a copy to Lower Valley Fire District. The fire department will review the plan to ensure it satisfies the requirements of the guide. Planning is only the first step in emergency preparedness. Employees and managers need to be trained on how to respond to emergencies. Responsibilities, accountability methods and consequences must be conveyed. Finally, the plan must be practiced to ensure that the plan works. The fire department’s prevention program can assist with staff training and can help coordinate a fire drill. In conclusion, this guide has been forwarded to assist in developing fire safety plans. It is the responsibility of every property owner to make sure employees, occupants, residents, and guests have a plan for responding to emergencies.

HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR EMERGENCY EVACUATION PLAN

 The Fire Evacuation Plan

  1. Fire evacuation plans shall include the following:
  2. Emergency egress or escape routes and whether the evacuation of the building is to be complete or, where approved, by selected floors or areas only (such as for a hospital or nursing home).
  3. Procedures for employees who must remain to operate critical equipment before evacuating.
  4. Procedures for assisted rescue for persons unable to use the general means of egress unassisted.
  5. Procedures for accounting for employees and occupants after the evacuation has been completed.
  6. Identification and assignment of personnel responsible for rescue or emergency medical aid.
  7. The preferred and any alternative means of notifying occupants of a fire or emergency.
  8. The preferred and any alternative means of reporting fires and any other emergencies to the fire department or designated emergency response organization.
  9. Identification and assignment of personnel who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan.
  10. A description of the emergency voice/alarm communication system alert tone and preprogrammed voice messages, where provided.

The Fire Safety Plan shall include the following:

  1. The procedure for reporting a fire or other emergency.
  2. The life safety strategy and procedures for notifying, relocating, or evacuating occupants who need assistance.
  3. Site plans indicating the following:
    • The occupancy assembly point.
    • The locations of fire hydrants.
    • The normal routes of fire department vehicle access.
  4. Floor plans identifying the locations of the following:
    • Exits.
    • Primary evacuation routes.
    • Secondary evacuation routes.
    • Accessible egress routes.
    • Areas of refuge.
    • Exterior areas for assisted rescue.
    • Manual fire alarm boxes.
  5. Portable fire extinguishers.
    • Occupant-use hose stations.
    • Fire alarm enunciators and controls.
  6. A list of major fire hazards associated with the normal use and occupancy of the premises, including maintenance and housekeeping procedures.
  7. Identification and assignment of personnel responsible for maintenance of systems and equipment installed to prevent or control fires.
  8. Identification and assignment of personnel responsible for maintenance, housekeeping and controlling fuel hazard.

Lockdown plans.

Where facilities develop a lockdown plan, the lockdown plan shall be in accordance with the following:

  1. Lockdown plans shall be approved by the fire code official and shall include the following:
    • Initiation. The plan shall include instructions for reporting an emergency that requires a lockdown.
    • Accountability. The plan shall include accountability procedures for staff to report the presence of absence or absence of occupants.
    • Recall. The plan shall include a prearranged signal for returning to normal activity.
    • Communication and coordination. The plan shall include an approved means of two-way communication between a central location and each secured area.
  2. Training Frequency. The training frequency shall be included in the lockdown plan. The lockdown drills shall not substitute for any of the fire and evacuations required in Section 405.2
  3. Lockdown Notification. The method of notifying the building occupants of a lockdown shall be included in the plan. The method of notification shall be separate and distinct from the fire alarm signal.

Planning for the Disabled

Consult the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for specific rules and regulations. The following information is advisory and may not comply with the ADA requirements for your business:

  1. Areas of refuge should be located in rooms with:
    • Fire rated walls, floors, ceilings and door.
    • Street frontage for fire department access.
    • Windows.
    • Communications equipment, a telephone and “HELP” sign, which can be posted in the window.
    • Post instructions on use of the communications system, location of “HELP” sign and any other information, which may help to reassure the person and improve their protection.
  2. Compile a list of disabled persons and areas where they are likely to seek refuge in a fire emergency.

Outside Meeting Places 

All evacuation plans require a predetermined meeting place away from the building.

  1. The meeting place must be at least 200 feet away from the building to allow for access of fire department personnel and to ensure the safety of building personnel.
  2. An accurate head count and list of missing employees, customers, visitors, residents and patients must be given to fire personnel. Include information on the most likely place missing persons may be located.
  3. Personnel must be prohibited from leaving the meeting area until the head count is completed.

Fire Department Response 

  1. The average response time for the lower Valley Fire District ranges depended on your area.
  2. The evacuation of the building(s) should be completed or in progress upon arrival of the fire department.
  3. The head count, list of missing persons, and list of differently able personnel as well as areas of refuge should be given to fire department personnel as soon as possible.
  4. Designate an employee to meet the firefighters. This employee must have a working knowledge of the building, building systems, fire alarm systems, fire sprinkler systems, any hazards or hazardous materials and keys to all areas of the building(s).

Evacuation Procedures

  1. Isolate the fire by closing doors as you leave the building
  2. Activate the internal alarm systems. All personnel must be familiar with the sound of the fire alarm system and learn to recognize the evacuation signal. Install alarm system horns and strobe lights as necessary to ensure that all employees, customers, visitors, residents and patients can be alerted.
  3. Notify 911. Provide as much information as possible to the dispatcher. Be prepared to answer questions. Don’t hang-up until told to do so by the 911 Center. Not all alarm systems automatically relay the alarm to the 911 Center; your call may be their only notification.
  4. Evacuate the building. Do not waste time turning off equipment, collecting papers or gathering personal property. Feel the doors to see if they are hot before opening them. If smoke is present, crawl low where the air is fresher and cooler. No one should reenter the building after evacuation without fire department approval.

Other Emergencies

Evacuation plans and fire safety plans should include procedures for other emergencies and directions for employees. Procedures and directions should address the following emergencies:

  1. Medical emergencies
  2. Bomb threats
  3. Severe weather
  4. Chemical releases
  5. Others as appropriate

Emergency Evacuation Drills

  1. Upon completion, the evacuation plan must be practiced and evaluated. Any problems must be corrected and, if necessary, the plan revised to reflect any changes.
  2. Fire drills must be conducted at intervals specified in the table below or more frequently to familiarize occupants with the plan.
  3. Drills shall be held at unexpected times and under varying conditions to stimulate the unusual conditions that occur in case of a fire.
  4. Records of the required emergency evacuation drills shall be maintained and include the following information.
    • Identity of the person conducting the drill
    • Date and time of the drill
    • Notification method used
    • Number of staff members participating
    • Number of occupants evacuated
    • Any special conditions simulated
    • Any problems encountered
    • Weather conditions when occupants were evacuated
    • Time required to accomplish the complete evacuation
  5. Where a fire alarm system is provided, emergency evacuation drills shall be initiated by activating the fire alarm system.
  6. Fire extinguishers should only be used by properly trained persons. Do not endanger employees by telling them to use fire extinguishers. It should be understood that extinguisher use is voluntary.

Maintenance

  1. All exit signs and emergency lighting must be maintained in working order to assist in the prompt evacuation of the building.
  2. Recommended maintenance must be performed and records kept for all fire protection, suppression and alarm systems in accordance with NFPA 25 and NFPA 72.
  3. All fire doors must be maintained in working order, remain in the closed position and be unobstructed at all times.
  4. All fire walls and fire separation assemblies must be maintained in accordance with fire safety codes.
  5. Remove snow, ice and all other objects from outside landings so that fire exit doors may open freely and to their maximum width.

Review and Updates

Fire safety and evacuation plans must be reviewed and updated annually or more often, if needed, to determine the need of revision. Revisions must be made to reflect the following:

  1. Changes in occupancy.
  2. Building additions and/or remodeling which affects the floor plan.
  3. An increase in personnel or relocation of personnel to include persons with disabilities.
  4. Changes in staff assignments

Availability

Fire safety and evacuation plans shall be available in the workplace for reference and review by employees. All copies shall be provided to the code official for review upon request. The fire safety and evacuation plans shall be distributed to the tenants and building service employees by the owner or owner’s agent. Tenants shall distribute to their employees application parts of the fire safety plan affecting the employees’ actions in the event of a fire or other emergency.

Employee Training

Employees shall receive training in the contents of fire safety and evacuation plans and their duties as part of new employee orientation and at least annually thereafter. Records shall be kept and made available to the code official upon request.