The California Fire is based on the International Fire Code, so I'm thinking lots of other states pretty much follow exactly the same rules. There are sections that specifically spell out exactly how to do emergency evacuation drills for specific places and what evacuation records to keep, for workplaces like laboratories, for schools - and yes, even universities, and I didn't happen to see any evacuation exemptions for faculty because there are no such exemptions (not part of the concept of academic freedom).
The basic plan goes something like this: Get everyone out quickly and efficiently, and account for everyone in the building so you know if someone didn't get out. Everyone must get out. And re-entry must be a separate and distinct signal; our floor wardens use referee whistles for the re-entry signal. And yes, we need to practice floor warden-only re-entry drills outside to get it right.
Let key staff know the location of main valves and switches. If they can shut off critical things like gas or equipment, then by all means do it - if you can't then don't, let the FD handle it or let the place burn. But don't "assign" people to do it, that's just asking for trouble in a big way.
It's difficult enough just getting an accurate count of the evacuated personnel within two or three minutes, and I'm talking about only 120 or so employees who've been here for years, not a transient population like 100s students. So I find it absolutely absurd that faculty balk at getting out there and leading the evacuation!
Eric Clark, MS, CHMM, CCHO
Safety Officer, Public Health Scientist III
Los Angeles County Public Health Laboratory
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU]On Behalf Of Margaret Rakas
Sent: Monday, September 29, 2014 7:48 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] fire drill and emergency gas shut-off valves
Our town fire department requires us to hold an unannounced fire drill each semester in our science/engineering buildings, and while I am delighted, even our faculty do not protest.. Frankly, I am surprised that there are town fire departments who do not insist on this. We also hold them in our student housing although I am not responsible for that and am not sure whether it's once/year or once/semester.
I don't understand concerns over 'losing a day' when drills can be held with students back in the building in roughly 15 minutes or less; ours are usually around 10 minutes (we can evacuate our newest science building in 2 min 32 seconds). In the fall we schedule the drill during the first two weeks of class (it's nice weather); in the spring, the day or two after spring break. The drills are always held within a minute or two after the first morning or afternoon class starts, so we don't interrupt tests, lab classes, etc. We do not take attendance or expect faculty to do so; the alarms are now loud enough no one even considers not leaving the building. This isn't a perfect system--not every science student is present on the day a drill is held--but faculty generally are, and the training is discussed in all lab sections and during independent research safety training.
STUDENTS need to know how to get out of a building, particularly a science building, where the risks are higher. They need to practice. We have students doing research at night and on the weekends (via the buddy system), so they need to know how to take care of themselves when faculty and staff are likely not here...
My two cents' worth...
On Sun, Sep 28, 2014 at 9:00 AM, David Roberts <droberts**At_Symbol_Here**depauw.edu> wrote:
The problem with making people turn off gas as they leave is just one extra thing to think about. It's fine to do, but really it does just shut off gas to that one room - not to the building. As most of these switches are electronic in nature, I would hope that they would be tied in to the fire system, meaning that when the fire system goes off, the gas is automatically shut off. I don't know if that's how they work now but it's a no brainer to make them work like that in the future.
Our school has talked about fire drills, and I'm kind of torn on that. The academic issue, which is what college is about, is this. There are only 42 days a semester on average, and every day is planned out. Missing a day is actually difficult for faculty. With that, on any given day you have no idea how many kids are in your room, and you will not reach every kid anyway, as there are no times during the day where every student is in a class. At our school we can make a good guess, but attendance is not taken. Add to that the fact that students are paying for education, and in many cases paying a lot, it's hard to justify a period off. I'm assuming with this you will pick the most used time bank at your school, to reach the most students. But, students are often in 3 or more buildings per day, are you going to address that?
I've kind of fought it here (can you tell), but a compromise is as follows. I think the most unwilling of the group, the faculty, should have to go through fire drills. If not fire drills exactly (as it would be hard to mimic that situation), at least the evacuation process for every building they are in. As long as the faculty knows where to go and how to evacuate, they can guide the students without much issue.
Students do fire alarms in their dorms constantly, either because they pull the alarms themselves or because the fire dept. does annual tests. They know the drills. Dorms/houses are where they spend a lot of time, and where they sleep - so I would focus on that. It's important to get them out of bed when groggy (so that they don't go to that important class the next day ;).
I think a compromise would be to train the faculty, and then have them go over exit procedures in class sometime. It's not perfect, but I think it would work overall. And that way every kid will participate in the discussion with minimal disruption to education.
Be safe all
On Sep 26, 2014, at 12:24 AM, Laurence Doemeny <ldoemeny**At_Symbol_Here**COX.NET> wrote:
First and foremost is the safety of the occupants, and the rapid and complete evacuation of the building. Floor wardens should assure and report the clearing of the building. Regarding the shut-off of gas I would think that there is an external gas shut-off that would serve the purpose. Explore this option.
We were recently notified that unannounced fire drills will be taking place on campus. In our new laboratory rooms, we have both emergency gas shut-off valves near the hallway doors and electricty shut-off buttons. If a fire drill occurs while we are in the laboratory, is it recommended that we shut off the gas and/or electricity to the labs as we exit? One of my colleagues raised the question and I thought one of you would know what would be considered best practice.
Margaret A. Rakas, Ph.D.
Manager, Inventory & Regulatory Affairs
Clark Science Center
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