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Emergency Building Evacuations are necessary to ensure the safety of the occupants to a variety of threats to include fires, bomb threats, and acts of violence, chemical releases, or other hazardous substances.  The fire alarm system serves as the main notification to building occupants that there is an emergency situation that requires an evacuation. 

In some cases the fire alarm may not be used if information indicates that the alarm system may cause a threat, in such cases as a bomb threat.  In these cases, the word of mouth and room to room notification system may be conducted by Life and Fire Safety Services.  Public Safety may assign certain college personnel to help with the room to room evacuation.

During an Emergency Building Evacuation every occupant must exit the building immediately after hearing the alarm or being advised by Public Safety personnel.  Those employees who must secure or operate critical equipment should take the necessary steps to shut down or secure it before exiting.  Any department that has such critical operations should consult with Life and Fire Safety Services about Emergency Building Evacuation.

Most residential, academic and administrative buildings have at least two means of egress from the building.  Occupants should use the closest means of egress and exit when the fire alarm is activated or when imminent danger exists.  If the closest means of egress is blocked or impassible, then occupants should use the next closest means of egress. 

Occupants who exit the building should remain outside until advised by a Public Safety Officer that it is safe to return.  Public Safety will coordinate fire, police, medical, and rescue assistance. If conditions exist that prevent occupants from reentering, Public Safety will provide occupants with a relocation site nearby.  If occupants are relocated to a nearby site, then those occupants will be provided with up to date information and needed resources to maintain their quality of life needs, such as restrooms, water, food, clothing, and shelter from elements.

If long term relocation is needed, then the Campus Emergency Response Team will provide adequate facilities or instruct occupants how the recovery process will affect them.


Any person failing to leave a building when the fire alarm sounds, when directed to leave by a Public Safety Officer, or as a result of a known or perceived emergency is subject to judicial sanctions, prosecution, and/or employment disciplinary action.

Persons failing to leave any overcrowded premises when told to do so by a Public Safety Officer may also be subject to judicial sanctions, prosecution, and/or employment disciplinary action.          


Emergency Evacuation Suggestions for Individuals with Disabilities

  1. Meet with your Department Chairperson or your Faculty Advisor to discuss specific issues related to your disability and emergency evacuation procedures.
  2. Review the Emergency Operations Plan and the Fire Prevention Plan for additional details and consult the Life Safety Manager.
  3. Know where the nearest exit, fire alarm manual station, and fire extinguisher are located.
  4. If you have a cell phone, keep it with you as often as possible.

Persons with vision disabilities:

  • People who are blind or visually impaired need to know an evacuation route in time of emergency. It is good to learn at least one alternate route, just in case.
  • If the "buddy" system is used, the buddy should be someone familiar with the person with a disability, specifically knowing how to provide guiding assistance, and they should be familiar with the guide dog or other service animal. Additionally, back-up buddies should be recruited and trained.
  • "Buddies" should go to the agreed meeting place to look for the person with a disability. If the person is not found, the buddy should then immediately vacate the building.
  • Twice a year, it is good to practice leaving the building by at least one of the emergency evacuation routes. This improves familiarity of the evacuation procedures and routes for the person, their service animals, and the buddy(s).
  • Service animals: If the alarm is sounded, persons with service animals should always leave the building - if they don't, their service animals will learn to disregard the alarms. Additionally, never let go of your service animal.

Persons with hearing disabilities:

  • Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing have two options available: (1) have a strobe light mounted in their private area, such as an office or resident room; (2) develop a buddy system.
  • If the buddy is leaving for an extended time, i.e., for training or conference/meeting attendance, a temporary buddy should be established. 

Persons with mobility disabilities:

  • In many academic buildings there are red phones located in certain hallways that can be used to contact Public Safety or 911.  Persons with mobility impairments should use these phones to contact Public Safety or 911 to determine if they should shelter in place, evacuate to a designated safe area, use alternative evacuation routes, or await rescue workers.
  • In the event of an extreme emergency, persons using wheelchairs and scooters should consider alternative evacuations, including being picked-up and carried out of the building. When circumstances necessitate separating the user and the wheelchair, keep the period of separation to a minimum. Sufficient helpers to carry both the user and the wheelchair/scooter must be available to use this procedure. When more than one flight of stairs is traversed, helpers may need to switch positions, since one person may be doing most of the lifting. Switch positions only on level landing areas. When the lifting/carrying is complete, follow the instructions of the wheelchair's user and restore the manual or motorized wheelchair to full operation, then assist the user to a safe area.

Persons with mental/cognitive disabilities

  • Contact Public Safety for assistance or advice
  • Review evacuation plans with your Department Chair or Faculty Advisor
  • Regularly review your evacuation plans with your buddy(s) and supervisor