Fire drills are the best indicator that an emergency evacuation will go smoothly and successfully. Fire drills are held to familiarize occupants with evacuation procedures and to make the response a matter of established routine.
Josep Pedrola, University Fire Marshal
Information and Resources
The following information is provided to answer a few of the most commonly asked emergency evacuation drill questions.
Q. Are we required to hold emergency evacuation drills?
A. Some occupancies that are required by the Oregon Fire Code (OFC) to complete a fire safety and evacuation plan are also required to conduct emergency evacuation drills to practice the plan. Even if your facility is not required to develop a plan or conduct a fire drill, the University Fire Marshal recommends that all facilities prepare for a fire emergency and practice their response. Emergency evacuation drills are a valuable tool, even if not mandated for your facility.
Q. How often should our facility have emergency evacuation drills?
A. It depends on its type of occupancy as outlined below:
Assembly (A occupancy) – The use of a building for the gathering of people for civic, social or religious functions (athletic venues, large lecture halls, cafeterias). Quarterly by Employees.
Business (B occupancy) – The use of a building or parts thereof for office, professional transactions, storage of records or accounts, research labs that are not considered hazardous, occupancies and assembly areas with an occupant load of less than 50 people. Annually by Employees.
Educational (E occupancy) – The use of a building or parts thereof for educational purposes through the 12th grade or a daycare with more than 5 children older than 2.5 years of age. Monthly or as required by the licensing agency by All Occupants.
Factory (F occupancy) – The use of a building or parts thereof for assembling, fabricating, finishing, manufacturing, repair operations, etc. Annually by Employees.
Residential (R-2 occupancy) – The use of a building or parts thereof for containing sleeping units where occupancy is permanent in nature (college and university residence halls). Four Annually by All Occupants.
High-rise buildings – Buildings that exceed 75 feet in height. Annually by Employees.
Q. Are drills for employees only or occupants too?
A. Although it is recommended that all occupants be provided the opportunity to practice the emergency evacuation drill for their building, not all occupants are required to participate in all scheduled drills. Whether they are required or not is determined by the OFC (see above list).
Q. Do we need to contact the Eugene Fire Department before conducting our drill?
A. You do not need to notify the Eugene Fire Department directly prior to conducting your drill. However, you must contact UO Fire and Life Safety staff at 541-346-2958 or 541-346-3270; at least 48 hours prior to your drill so they can assist you prevent a fire department and UOPD response to the building. Additionally, they will have to reset the building fire alarm system back to normal operation when the drill is completed.
Q. Should emergency drills be announced or unannounced?
A. Emergency evacuation drills may be pre-announced to building staff or occupants or they may be unannounced. Consideration of the building occupants and the use of the building may determine which type of drill is most appropriate. For example, it is recommended to notify prior to conducting a test in a residence hall or a mixed use facility where offices may be located. Whether announced or unannounced, where a fire alarm system is provided, emergency evacuation drills shall be initiated by activating the fire alarm system.
Q. What if there are building occupants who refuse to participate in the drill?
A. There may be some building occupants who continually refuse to participate in evacuation drills. Problems with frequent false or nuisance alarms in a building may make matters even worse. In most instances, the UO cannot issue citations for failure to participate in a drill. However, those refusing to participate may be subject to administrative and/or academic action.
It is a violation of the OFC to fail to leave a building when a fire alarm is sounding. When the building alarm sounds, assume it is a real emergency and leave the building.
It is unlawful for any person to prevent another person from leaving a building when an alarm is sounding. Faculty members are not permitted to keep classes in session during such emergency conditions.
Q. Do we need to keep records of our emergency evacuation drills?
A. Records of 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 on duty and participating.
- Number of occupants evacuated.
- Special conditions simulated.
- Problems encountered.
- Weather conditions when occupants were evacuated.
- Time required to accomplishing the evacuation.
Fire Code Requirements Guide No. 002
Approved by: University Fire Marshal Josep Pedrola