Evacuation Options

Posted: April 19, 2021 at 4:31 pm

Horizontal Evacuation: using building exits to the outside ground level or going into unaffected wings of multi-building complexes.

Stairway Evacuation: using steps to reach ground level exits from the building.

Area of Assistance: with an evacuation assistant, going to an Area of Assistance away from obvious danger. The evacuation assistant will then go to the building evacuation assembly point and notify the on-site emergency personnel of the location of the person with special needs. Emergency personnel will then facilitate evacuation.

An Evacuation Assistant is a volunteer, co-worker, classmate, suite mate, or friend who can lend assistance to persons with special needs during an emergency. Evacuation Assistants provide instruction during an evacuation, help  individuals with special needs relocate to Areas of Assistance, notify first responders or emergency personnel of persons with special needs that are unable to evacuate a building, and provide support as necessary to ensure a safe evacuation. Evacuations Assistants are NOT responsible for physically evacuating an individual from a building. Carrying a person down a set of stairs or out of a building should only be done by trained emergency response personnel.

Usually, the safest Areas of Assistance are pressurized stair enclosures common to high-rise buildings, and open-air exit  balconies. Other possible areas of assistance include: fire rated corridors or vestibules  adjacent to exit stairs, and pressurized elevator lobbies. Many campus buildings feature fire rated corridor  construction that may offer safe  refuge. Taking a position in a rated  corridor next to the stair is a good alternative to a small stair landing crowded with the other  building occupants using the stairway. For assistance in identifying Areas of Assistance, contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office.

Stay in Place: unless danger is imminent, remaining in a room with an exterior window, a telephone, and a solid or fire-resistant door is a viable option. With this approach, the person may keep in contact with University Police emergency services by dialing 911 and reporting his or her location directly.  University Police will immediately relay the individual’s location to on-site  emergency personnel, who will determine the necessity for evacuation. Phone lines are expected to remain in service during most building emergencies. If the phone lines fail, the individual can signal from the window by waving a cloth or other visible object.

The “Stay in Place” approach may be more appropriate for sprinkler protected buildings or buildings where an area of refuge is not nearby or available. It may also be more appropriate for an occupant who is alone when the alarm sounds. A solid or fire-resistant door can be identified by a fire label on the jam and frame. Non-labeled 1 3/4 inch thick solid core wood doors hung on a metal frame also offer good fire resistance.

Write to Korey Singleton at ksinglet@gmu.edu