The purpose of fire drills is to ensure the efficient and safe exit of facilities in the case of an emergency. Proper drills ensure orderly exit, under control, and prevent panic. Order and control are the primary purposes of the drill. Speed in emptying buildings, while desirable, is not in itself and object, and should be made secondary to the maintenance of proper order.
Fire drills shall be designed and conducted according to the occupancies specified below. Responsibility for the planning and conduct of drills shall be assigned by the Risk Manager to competent persons qualified to exercise leadership. A written record of all drills conducted should be maintained including a critique of the event. This record should be maintained by the Risk Manager.
Drills shall include suitable processes to make sure that all persons in the building, or all persons subject to the drill, actually participate. If a fire drill is considered merely as a routine exercise from which some persons are exempt, there is grave danger that in an actual fire, the drill will fail in its intended purpose.
All drills should be pre-planned and pre-announced. Surprise drills tend to limit productive learning, breed apprehension, and cause passivity to future alarms. Any alarm not preceded by a plan or announcement shall be treated as an actual fire condition. Fire drills shall be held with sufficient frequency to familiarize all occupants with the drill procedure and to have the conduct of the drill a matter of established routine.
Drills should be carefully planned to simulate actual fire conditions. Not only should they be held at varying times, but different means of exit should be used based upon an assumption that if some given stairway is unavailable by reason of fire or smoke, all the occupants must be led out by some other route. Fire exit drills should be designed to familiarize the occupants with all available means of exits, particularly emergency exits that are not habitually used during the normal occupancy of the building. In the event of a fire - Fire Drill Checklist
Fire Exit Drills in Specific Campus Occupancies
The usefulness of a fire drill and the extent to which it can be carried depends upon the character of the occupancy. Drills are most effective in occupancies such as classrooms, where the occupant load of the building is somewhat consistent. In buildings where the occupancy load is of a changing character, no regularly organized fire drill is possible.
In such cases, the fire drills must be limited to the regular employees, who can be thoroughly schooled in the proper procedure and can be trained to properly direct other occupants of the building in case of fire. In occupancies such as the Student Activity Center, regular employees can be rehearsed in the proper procedure in case of fire. Such training always is advisable in all occupancies whether or not regular fire drills can be held.
Educational Occupancies -- Academic and Administrative Buildings
- All educational buildings on campus must hold one fire drill per semester, preferably during the first four weeks of the semester. Faculty and staff shall work in cooperation with the Risk Manager in scheduling drills before the semester begins.
- Evacuation instructions are to be conspicuously posted in each classroom, and hallway to provide the necessary evacuation information and ensure orderly egress from the building. Signs should also specify that elevators must not be used to exit during a fire drill.
- Classroom faculty and staff should be familiar with the easiest exit to be used in the fire drill and the alternative exits available. Faculty and staff should close (not lock) doors and windows and take responsibility for checking facilities for complete evacuation. All personal belongings within reach should be taken from classrooms by students.
- Handicapped students should inform faculty or staff at the start of the semester of any special requirements with respect to locations and procedures that will best facilitate those students' egress from the building in an emergency. In general, wheelchair users should go to the stairwell which is furthest from the fire and wait for help. Fire departments should be notified that stairwells need to be checked first. Other handicapped persons should be assisted by students, faculty, or staff. Do not leave a handicapped person alone.
- Residential facilities demonstrate the greatest need for adequate and effective fire exit awareness due to the potential loss of life. Fire drills in residence halls must be performed once a semester at a minimum. Because of the nature of the occupancy, it is usually the case that additional drills are performed due to false alarms.
- A major concern in residence hall fire drills is the resistance of residents to evacuate the building in the event of a drill. Resident Assistants (RAs), Residence Life Coordinators (RLCs), and other staff must take responsibility for the complete and orderly evacuation of the building. Education and awareness are key components to an effective fire evacuation program. Directional signs in hallways and in each dorm room will help students to become more fully aware of their options.
- Special consideration must be given to handicapped students with regard to fire safety in the residence halls. To be most effective, handicapped students should be required to evacuate the building during a fire drill regardless of their location in the building. Pre-planning is key for the handicapped person because their own familiarity with the buildings, exits, and the safest methods of egress is vital. The handicapped person should also seek out buddies to assist in the evacuation and should explain all instructions beforehand. No one should be left behind during a fire drill or fire condition.
- To facilitate evacuation, handicapped persons should be assigned to rooms on ground or egress level whenever possible. Rooms should be identified on the outside of the building with a distinctly coded sign to advise the fire department without distinguishing the student. If evacuation of a handicapped person is not possible, they should return to the room and close the door, or proceed to the nearest stairwell if possible and wait for the fire department rescue. For this reason, each dorm should have a list of all handicapped students and their room location on file with the fire department.
- On each floor of the facility, the resident staff should proceed down the hall knocking loudly on each door as they pass. Staff should not unlock each door as this is time consuming and may result in danger to the staff person.
Assembly Occupancies -- Student Activity Center
- Because the actual fire drills are not practical for places of non-continuous assembly where the students or public body changes with each program, employees or attendants of such places should be schooled in the duties they are to perform in case of fire in order to be of greatest service in effecting an orderly exit.
- An adequate number of competent attendants must be on duty when assembly occupancy is used. Attendants should be instructed in the proper use of portable fire extinguishers and other manual fire suppression equipment if provided.
- Signs with directions for speedy and orderly egress should be posted.