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Fire Drill Planning FAQ

Drills are the best indicator that an emergency evacuation will go smoothly and successfully.  Drills are held to familiarize occupants with evacuation procedures and to make the response a matter of established routine.  The following information is provided to answer a few of the most commonly asked emergency evacuation drill questions.

EVACUATION DRILL FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q

Are we required to hold emergency evacuation drills?

A

Some occupancies that are required to complete a fire safety and evacuation plan are also required to conduct emergency evacuation drills to practice the plan. The list of occupancies which are required by Seattle Fire Code to conduct emergency evacuation drills can be found in Client Assistance Memo 5051 (Fire Safety & Evacuation Plans).

Even if your facility is not required to develop a plan or conduct a drill, the Seattle Fire Department 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

How often your building is required to hold an emergency evacuation drill depends on its type of occupancy.  Current drill frequency requirements are outlined in Client Assistance Memo 5051 (Fire Safety & Evacuation Plans).

 

Q

Are drills for staff 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 Fire Code.  Detailed information on who must participate in emergency evacuation drills is found in Client Assistance Memo 5051 (Fire Safety & Evacuation Plans).

 

Q

Do we need to contact the Seattle Fire Department before we conduct our drill?

A

You do not need to contact the Seattle Fire Department prior to conducting your drill.  If you have a monitored fire alarm system, it is important that you contact your monitoring company prior to your drill to prevent a Fire Department response to the building.  When the drill is completed, notify the monitoring company that the building has returned to normal operations.

 

Q

Should emergency drills be announced or unannounced?

A

Emergency evacuation drills may be pre-announced to building staff or occupants, or that 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, in a residential building primarily occupied by older adults or a mixed-use facility where doctor's offices may be located, it may be best to notify tenants of the date and time of the drill.

 

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 Fire Department cannot issue citations for failure to participate in a drill.

The best tactic in gaining cooperation in drills is to try to explain the advantages of participation.  Explaining that under real fire conditions evacuation can be considerably more complicated is one more method.  Informing employers that liability for their employees may increase if they do not allow or encourage participation in the drill may be influential.  If a fire did occur and one of their employees was injured or killed, it is possible they could be named in some legal action because of their lack of support for learning fire safety procedures.

Making the drill more interesting by using a fire scenario or checking to make sure the drill will be held at a convenient time may yield better participation.  Creative tactics can be tried.  One employer in Seattle tries to make the drill a positive activity for those participating by having staff hand out candy to occupants as they reach their assembly area.

 

Q

Do we need to keep records of our emergency evacuation drills?

A

Records should be maintained of required emergency evacuation drills and include the following information:

1. Identity of the person conducting the drill.
2. Date and time of the drill.
3. Notification method used.
4. Staff members on duty and participating.
5. Number of occupants evacuated.
6. Special conditions simulated.
7. Problems encountered.
8. Time required to accomplish evacuation.

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Last Modified:   October 29, 2010

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