Emergency Procedures - Evacuation

General Evacuation Procedures

Evacuation of specific buildings or all buildings may be necessary in a major emergency. Click here for building-specific assembly area locations.

  • Everyone must leave the building immediately if the fire alarm is activated, or if directed to do so by Public Safety officers or Building Emergency Response Team Members.
  • To exit the building, use the nearest safe exit or exit stairwell.  Never use elevators in an emergency evacuation.
  • If the nearest exit or exit stairwell is obstructed by smoke, fire or other hazards, proceed to another one.
  • During stairwell evacuation, hold the handrail, and stay to the right side of the stairwell. Allow enough room for others to enter the flow of traffic.
  • Once outside the building, assemble away from the facility, and stand by for instructions from emergency personnel. Every department should have a pre-designated evacuation assembly location outside the building.
  • Do not re-enter the building until given the “all clear” by emergency personnel.
  • Take time now to identify alternate paths to exit the building, noting the location of all stairwells.

Talk to emergency response team members in your building and identify an outdoor location where everyone will assemble in an emergency. In an emergency, Building Emergency Response Team members can be identified by the bright green vests.

Emergency Evacuation for People with Disabilities
This section provides a general guideline of evacuation procedures for persons with disabilities during fire and other building emergencies.  Individuals with disabilities must identify their primary and secondary evacuation routes & seek colleagues who are able to serve as evacuation assistants.  All faculty & staff members can help by being aware of people who may need assistance.

    In most buildings people will need to use stairways to reach building exits.  Elevators cannot be used because they have been shown to be unsafe in an emergency.  For persons in wheelchairs located on the first floor, they may use building exits to the outside ground level.  For disabled individuals on upper floors, it is not safe to attempt to move a wheelchair down a stairwell.  One effective approach to this situation is the following:

    Stay In Place:
    Working with an evacuation assistant, select a room with an exterior window, a telephone, and a solid or fire-resistant door.  Remain with the disabled person in this room, and send someone to the evacuation assembly area to notify emergency personnel of the location of the person in need of assistance.   It is also possible to place the disabled person near a stairway landing to await assistance, although this area may not be protected from smoke and other hazards.  Fire Department personnel, who are trained in emergency rescue, can then enter the building and assist the person to exit the building either down the stairs or using the emergency elevator recall.  While staying in place, the wheelchair user should keep in contact with emergency services by dialing (213) 740-4321 and reporting his or her location directly. Never leave a wheelchair in a stairwell.

    Stairway evacuation of wheelchair users should be conducted by trained professionals from the fire department.  Only in situations of extreme danger should untrained people attempt to evacuate wheelchair users.  If this must be attempted, one possibility is the following:

    2 Person Cradle Carry
    Wait until other evacuees have moved down the stairwell.
    The two helpers stand on either side of the individual.
    They reach under the individual and lift them out in a cradle.
    Helpers control the descent by walking slowly and cautiously.

    Office Chair Evacuation
    Transfer the physically challenged individual to a sturdy office chair;
    One helper gently leans the chair backwards;
    The other helper faces the chair & holds onto the front legs of the chair;
    Both lift the chair simultaneously and control the descent by bending their legs slowly and keeping their back straight.

    Persons with mobility impairments who are able to walk independently should be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance.  The individual should wait until the heavy traffic has cleared on the stairwell before attempting to exit. 

    Some buildings on campus are equipped with fire alarm strobe lights; however, many are not.  Persons with hearing impairments may not hear audio emergency alarms and will need to be alerted to emergency situations by other building occupants. 

    Most people with a visual impairment will be familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently traveled routes.  Since the emergency evacuation route may be different from the commonly traveled route, persons who are visually impaired may need assistance in evacuating.  The assistant should offer his/her elbow to the individual with a visual impairment and guide him or her through the evacuation route.  During the evacuation the assistant should communicate as necessary to ensure safe evacuation.

Building emergency response staff should assess the needs of any building occupants with special needs within their zone prior to an emergency.   Ask if there are staff or faculty members who will need assistance in the event of an evacuation, and arrange for nearby individuals to serve as evacuation assistants.