Federal vs State Building Regulations
Alexia Mingo Simmons
Columbia Southern University
According to the NFPA, a high rise building evacuation is different than other evacuations. This is because is requires a great amount of people to travel a great distance through vertical stairs (“FAQs”). Often the physical demands are more than the capabilities of the potential evacuees. It is a known fact that some of the tallest buildings in the world may require a two hour evacuation. Measures are put in place to avoid such evacuations in these high-rise buildings. Many have automatic fire sprinkler protection which are designed to control a fire a therefore lessen the need to evacuate all occupants.
Occupational safety and health guidelines of federal and state authorities require that there should be a proper work place evacuation plan to ensure a safe and efficient building evacuation in an event of emergency (Goetsch, 2015). A good plan may include multiple exits, functional communication system, special technologies, evacuation drills, evacuation procedure and consideration for people with special needs or disabilities (Goetsch, 2015). This plan is necessary in emergency preparedness as well as response and should be reviewed from time to time and communicated to personnel as well to ensure its effectiveness. This is also in agreement with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard 25 which requires a plan be developed and strictly adhered to during a fire event to ensure safe evacuation (Klaus, 2013).

Also, federal and state guidelines require that a means of communication and fire alarms for use during evacuations should be provided and maintained in the building (Klaus, 2013). Evacuation facilities (such as exit routes, assembly area, alarms etc.) should be clearly marked for easy identification and access and should have appropriate lighting while exit doors should not be locked or blocked (Fry & Binner, 2016). This again supports NFPA 25 which requires that facilities such as fire alarms and fire exits be properly installed and maintained to ensure they do not fail to perform when needed (Klaus, 2013). However, unlike NFPA standard 25 which allows a once per year evacuation drills, the federal and state guidelines require a periodic evacuation drills be performed in order to have a safe evacuation in an event of emergency.
Furthermore, the evacuation process which may be coordinated by designated persons such as coordinator/manager, supervisor or warden, is to be clearly communicated to occupants. Following the sound of an emergency alarm and instructions, people are expected to leave by the nearest exit and alert others to do the same while those with disabilities may also be assisted in exiting the building (Fry & Binner, 2016). Elevators are not to be used in case of fire and earthquake (NFPA, 2015). Once outside, people are to proceed to the assembly area and not to return to evacuated building (Fry & Binner, 2016). This is in total agreement with NFPA standard 101. However, unlike the NFPA 101, federal and state authorities may require the streets around the building be cleared to give way for easy passage and also for managers or building owners to provide transport system for evacuees (Fry & Binner, 2016). Also, the NFPA 25 prefers an automatic alarm activation system while the federal and state guidelines have no specific preference for automatic or manually activated alarm systems.
Other best practices which may be used in conducting building evacuations according to Fry & Binner (2016) include early emergency detection, evaluation, communication and evacuation as well as use of personal protective equipment, mandatory signs and geographic information system. An adherence to the federal and state guidelines and a proper application of these best practices will enable the organization improve on its COOP to ensure a continuous performance of the organization’s essential operations during an emergency and to improve its overall performance through identification of the functions that must be supported in an event of emergency evacuation. A timely recovery from an emergency would also be achieved.

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FAQs about building evacuation. (n.d.). Retrieved from