Preparing an Emergency Evacuation Plan

The Safety Supervisor Should:

  1. Prepare a building diagram.
    1. Survey the entire building. Obtain (or draw) floor plans identifying the exits and other pertinent features.
    2. Find out what building features are affected by the fire alarm (i.e., doors automatically close, stairwells become pressurized with fresh air, partitions slide into place, elevators are recalled to a specific location).
      (With selected evacuation, the fire alarm bells only ring on the fire floor, the floor above and the floor below; only employees on the floors where the bells are ringing are expected to evacuate. )
    3. Determine whether the fire alarm bells ring on all the floors or whether the building has "selected evacuation."
    4. Label fire protection features on the diagram.
    5. Designate the exits to be used in each area (usually the closest exit, but possibly not if a farther exit has better built-in fire protection.

  2. Determine the occupancy of the building.
    1. How many people are present during a typical day?
      Include all people who share the use of the building (i.e., a school that holds classes in a worship facility, or a building with several businesses).
    2. How many people are present during a typical night?
    3. Are there any people who may require assistance to evacuate due to reduced mobility, coordination, or perception?
      Consult these individuals; they are the experts regarding their situation. Ask them what assistance they would like during an evacuation. Encourage, but do not require them to accept help.
    4. Are there any unusual hazards in the building?

  3. Determine the method of announcing an evacuation.
    If a fire alarm system exists, the pull stations will be used.
    • If a public address system exists, it can be used to announce "CODE RED" followed by the location of the emergency.
    • In a small area, a distinct sound (whistle, bell, etc.) or an announcement may be used.

  4. Assign people to the emergency evacuation team.

    These people must be familiar with the building evacuation plan, floor layouts, and the location and use of fire equipment. In some cases, the floor warden may also assume the role of the assistant warden and the searcher.

    If the floor is occupied by residential tenants (apartments and condominiums), designate one floor warden and alternate for each floor. If commercial tenants occupy the floor, each tenant should designate one floor warden and one alternate.

    • Floor Wardens
      The floor wardens are responsible for overseeing the orderly evacuation of their suite/floor upon notification of a fire alarm. They will receive and dispatch information and instructions relating to a given emergency, oversee the evacuation of all personnel from their area if required to do so, and make sure that any person with a disability is assigned a co-worker who agrees to stay with the person with the disability. It is the duty of the floor warden to report the location of these people to the fire department when they arrive.
    • Assistant Floor Wardens
      The assistant floor wardens are responsible for ensuring that all personnel leave their offices and go to the stairwell door designed for their safety. They should listen for any new information; if questions or problems arise, they should get direction from the floor warden. They will not take any individual action without checking with their floor warden, except in an emergency.
    • Searchers
      The searchers make sure that no one has been left on the floor and that all office doors are closed to reduce the spread of fire and smoke. Be sure to check conference rooms and restrooms. Searchers should be familiar with all non-visible areas and ensure everyone is out. Searchers should also report to the floor warden when they have completed their search or if any problems exist.
    • Assistants for Those With Special Needs
      Someone should be assigned to each person who has requested help in an evacuation.
    • Alternates
      Each of the people listed above should have an alternate to cover their duties in their absence.

  5. Familiarize the emergency evacuation team with the evacuation plan.
    Hold meetings quarterly or as necessary (prior to renovation, etc.) to update the plan.

  6. Schedule periodic fire drills.
    These should be realistic. Existing fire alarm pull stations must be used during fire drills; this will increase the chance that someone will remember to pull the handle in an actual emergency. Remember to notify your alarm company (if applicable) and the Montgomery County Emergency Communications Center (240-777-0744) so that fire units are not sent to your location.

  7. Increase awareness of fire protection features.
    Consider contests; place a sticker beneath a fire extinguisher or a pull station handle, ask employees to find it, and give a small prize to the person who finds it first.

  8. Include fire prevention information at employee health fairs.
    The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service frequently provides speakers on fire and injury prevention. For details, call the Community Safety Education Division of the Fire and Rescue Service.

NOTE: Employees who disregard the order to evacuate are subject to a $500 civil citation.


  1. Be familiar with the emergency evacuation plan.
  2. Ensure that all personnel go to the exit or stairwell door designated for their safety.
  3. Listen for, and relay, new information.
  4. Seek direction from the floor warden if questions or problems arise.


  1. Ensure that everyone has left the floor.
  2. Check conference rooms, restrooms, and other common areas.
  3. Close office doors to reduce the spread of fire and smoke.
  4. Report to the floor warden when the search is complete.
  5. Relay any problems to the floor warden.


  1. Become familiar with the emergency evacuation plan.
  2. Note the location of fire extinguishers and fire alarm pull stations.
  3. Participate in fire drills.
  4. Keep fire doors closed.
  5. Maintain clear hallways and exits.
  6. Alert the safety supervisor of hazardous conditions.
  7. Evacuate promptly during emergencies or drills.
  8. Avoid elevators during an emergency.
  9. Remain calm and quiet so everyone can hear instructions.
  10. Not return to the building until notified that it is safe to do so.


  1. Activate the fire alarm system, or give the prearranged signal.
  2. Remove anyone in immediate danger.
  3. Designate someone to call 9-1-1 from a safe location.
  4. Attempt to extinguish the fire ONLY if it is very small and ONLY if comfortable doing so.
  5. If the fire cannot be extinguished, confine the fire by closing the door.

If you smell smoke but do not see a fire:

  1. Activate the fire alarm system, or give the prearranged signal.

If you smell natural gas:

  1. Instruct coworkers not to operate the light switches.
  2. Go to a well-ventilated, odor-free, area and then call 911.

All fires MUST be reported to the fire department by calling 911, even if they are completely out when discovered