In the event of a fire or other emergency, seconds count. The safe, orderly and prompt evacuation of building occupants depends on having the physical safety features of a building in operating condition as well as having an emergency evacuation plan. The cooperation and participation of every building occupant is essential. Every person that lives and works in a building on campus has an individual responsibility to know how to evacuate in an emergency and to accomplish the evacuation when the fire alarm device sounds or when directed by an authority. This plan will help you to prepare for emergency situations that might arise in your facility.
Fire Alarm Notification System
All building evacuations will occur when an alarm sounds continuously and/or upon notification by emergency personnel. There are a wide variety of hazard notification methods available to the University community. Emergency notification methods are building specific and may be an audible flashing alarm, strobe light, voice enunciation system, digital text board, RAVE message, programmed voice messages, public address system or by physical direction.
Pre‐plan your escape
- Evacuation maps are posted in each building listing exits, evacuation areas, severe weather area, fire extinguishers, and pull stations.
- Know the location of fire alarm pull box locations.
- Make sure your floor has at least two unobstructed ways out.
- Check the fire exits to make sure they are usable.
- Do not use the elevators. They could become disabled, trapping you on the fire floor.
- Know the location of fire rated stairwells that will provide a protected path all the way to the outside.
- Learn the sound of your buildings fire alarm.
- Learn the location of your gathering area. These areas are specific to each building.
If there is a fire or fire alarm, everyone evacuates!
- If you discover a fire or smoke condition, sound the building alarm by activating the nearest pull station.
- Make a follow‐up call to University Public Safety (security) at (812) 464‐1845 or (812) 492‐7777.
- Whenever you hear the fire alarm sound, leave immediately! Don't assume the fire alarm is false or a test and wait to see what others do. Do not call the Public Safety Office or switchboard to inquire about the validly of the alarm. These calls will only tie up the telephone lines.
- If it is safe to assist others including persons with disabilities or special needs, do so. If you are unable to assist, notify emergency responders of the location and number of disabled or special needs persons located in your area.
- Unless unusual conditions dictate otherwise, the best evacuation route is the nearest stairway and out the nearest exit.
- When leaving, close (do not lock) the door behind you. If the door locks automatically, take your key with you in case you need to get back in for refuge.
- Once outside, meet at your evacuation area and take a head count to make sure everyone is out and accounted for.
- Never attempt to re‐enter the building to search for someone missing, let fire or emergency services officials know.
- Bottom line is that each person has an individual responsibility to preplan how to get out of their work area should the fire alarm sound.
- Know your closest emergency exit – it’s probably not the one you use to get to work every day.
- Each person is also responsible to evacuate when the alarm sounds.
- Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do.
- The only people remaining in the area of the fire bell should be fire or emergency services officials. No excuse is so important that it could cost your life.
If you discover a fire ‐ DO NOT PANIC
Take all alarms seriously whether there is or is not any indication of smoke or fire. If you discover a fire, you should judge the level of the threat and conditions of the immediate area and the needs of others. You should follow the plan and leave immediately. If unable to leave or move to a safe area, then take defensive action as directed by faculty and staff.
Is the door hot?
- Before opening a door, you should make sure there is no fire on the other side by using the back of your hand to touch the door, door knob or door frame.
- If any feel hot, don't open it, there is probably fire on the other side. If cool, open the door slowly, leave the area and close the door behind you.
Stay low when there is smoke
- If you encounter smoke while escaping, crawl or get as low as you can. The cleanest air will be within 1 to 2 feet from the floor.
- If the main exit is blocked by fire or smoke, you should use your alternate route. If this is not feasible, go back in your room to wait for rescue.
If you can't escape
- Close all doors between you and the fire.
- Seal cracks around doors with cloth to keep the smoke out.
- Call University Public Safety (security) at (812) 464‐1845 or (812) 492‐7777 to notify them of your location.
- While waiting for rescuers, signal from a window by hanging clothes out the window, waving an object or shouting.
Reporting a fire or explosion
Person(s) reporting a fire should call the University Public Safety (security) at (812) 464‐1845 or (812) 492‐7777. The person calling should be ready to provide the following vital information:
- Location (*Building and Room number if known)
- Type of fire or explosion if known (e.g., trash, electrical, chemical, etc.)
- Extent of the fire
- Caller’s name
- Number/location of injured persons.
The University Public Safety Department, upon receiving a call, will:
- Immediately relay the information to the Joint City – County Central Dispatch who shall notify the Perry Township Fire Department, Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office and other emergency services as necessary.
- Dispatch officer coverage to the scene of the incident.
- Dispatch officer coverage to guide in the responding emergency vehicles.
- Call Environmental Health and Safety Office for list of possible HazMat in building.
- Physical Plant Facilities Management will be called upon at the request of University Public Safety Department.
- Notify the Director of the University Public Safety Department.
- Upon arrival at the scene, assist in evacuation.
- Establish a safe perimeter around the incident for safety.
- Assist in crowd control.
- Submit an Incident Report including photographs (if possible) of fire damage.
Students, Faculty and Staff in an affected building should:
- Ensure all students and staff evacuate in a prompt and orderly manner, and go to the designated evacuation point.
- Faculty and staff should ensure that all students and other persons leave a particular room and gather at the designated evacuation point.
- Evacuees should organize themselves in groups use the buddy system for safe evacuation.
- Supervise and assist those individuals with mobility issues. If they do not have a buddy, the faculty member responsible for the class will need to assign one or two people to assist this individual.
- Keep all students a safe distance from the affected building at an evacuation assembly point and do a head count to assure that all students are out of the building and relocate them to a safe area.
- Maintain a clear path of access for emergency vehicles.
- Do not return to the evacuated building until specifically instructed to do so by fire personnel, campus officer, emergency services personnel, or other appropriate University personnel.
Additional Fire Safety Precautions
Keep Exits Clear
All stairwells, exits, corridors shall be kept free of all obstructions at all times. No furnishings, decorations, other combustible objects or flammables shall obstruct exits. Corridors and other portions of the means of egress are meant to be a certain width so that the expected numbers of people in the building can quickly exit or evacuate in a fire situation. Any time there are obstructions, the possibility of people becoming trapped or slowed down in a fire, increases greatly. Since the prime function of corridors is to allow people to escape during a fire, we don’t want these areas to be the origin of fire, or a means to allow it to propagate. This can very easily happen if combustibles are stored and allowed to accumulate there.
Building occupants should familiarize and know what to do in case of fire. Fire drills are conducted to provide the opportunity for building occupants to practice the fire evacuation plan. Every building occupant is expected to participate in drills occurring within their building. Each drill should be treated as if it were the real thing by showing a sense of urgency, immediate evacuation and following the instructions of the University staff conducting the drill.
Laboratory/Hazardous Operation Procedures
All areas that have hazardous operations, including laboratories, should have an emergency plan that details the emergency shutdown procedures. If the equipment requires numerous steps for emergency operation or shutdown, the plan should be in writing. In the event of an emergency evacuation, hazardous operations and equipment must be shutdown. This would include:
- Turn off flames and other ignition sources.
- Unplug electrical equipment that cannot be shut down or secured (hot plates, etc).
- Secure all process equipment and hazardous materials, including compressed gases.
- Close the fume hood sash.
If you have a disability that might prevent your safe evacuation from a building, you need to do some additional planning to ensure your safety during an evacuation. The planning steps identified below will; (1) ensure that you are familiar with accessible exit routes and other safety features of the building, (2) recruit the assistance of coworkers, colleagues or others to assist you during the evacuation, and (3) ensure that emergency response personnel know that you may need additional assistance to evacuate the building.
- Identify primary and secondary routes to exits, stairwells or other safe areas of refuge that can provide protection from smoke or fire.
- Locate building phones, fire alarm pull stations, police call boxes or cell phones that can be used to call University Public Safety (security) in the event of an emergency.
- Notify your instructor or colleague of any special needs that you may require for an evacuation.
- Establish a buddy system with a colleague who can assist you during an evacuation.
- Train your buddy on the best way that they can assist you during an evacuation.
During an Evacuation
- When the alarm sounds you should immediately prepare to evacuate the building.
- Obtain assistance from your instructor, buddy or colleague and exit the building using the primary or secondary exit routes identified in your pre‐plan.
- If you are unable to exit the building, seek refuge in the safe area of refuge identified in your pre‐plan.
- Call University Public Safety (security) at (812) 464‐1845 or (812) 492‐7777 and let them know that you are proceeding to the stairwell or area of refuge designated in your pre‐plan.
- Advise your buddy or others who may be assisting you to continue to evacuate once you have reached your area of refuge. They should summon and advise emergency responders of your location.
- While you are waiting, position yourself so that your body is as close to the floor as possible.
Individuals with Mobility Impairments
Some individuals with mobility impairments may need special equipment such as wheelchairs, braces or crutches to move around the campus; others whose impairments are less visible may have decreased coordination or stamina and may need to move at a slower pace or rest frequently.
These persons may need to be escorted to a designated safe area. Their location should be noted and reported to the University Public Safety (security), other University personnel, Fire Department, or other responding public safety entities.
It is not advisable to try to carry a person who is in a wheelchair. Only trained personnel should attempt to carry the individual and/or the wheelchair. Wheelchairs may have parts not intended forlifting; batteries or life support equipment may be connected. Trained emergency personnel should be directed to the area as soon as possible.
Individuals with Vision Impairments
If people are being escorted out of the building, the individual with the vision impairment should be evacuated together with the sighted evacuees. If you are escorting a blind or vision impaired individual, take your directions from the individual about how to guide them. For example, if you are going down stairs, they may ask you to stand in front of them and by the right side of the stairwell – they may have one hand on your shoulder and one hand on the handrail. If walking side by side, they may take your arm (above the elbow) while holding their cane and or leash of an animal with their other hand.
Individuals who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing
As the individual with a hearing loss may not perceive an audio emergency alarm, alternative communication/warning techniques may be needed. These techniques include: switching the lights on and off to get the person’s attention, writing down the type of emergency and closest evacuation route and escorting the person out of building.