Fire Evacuation Drills

Fire evacuation drills are required by the New York State Fire Code. Drills provide an important opportunity for building occupants to practice evacuation procedures. 

Drills are unannounced and the fire code specifies the timing and number of drills required every year. EHS coordinates fire drills with the assistance of Physical Plant and Public Safety.

Understanding and complying with fire evacuation procedures is everyone's responsibility. This page provides information about evacuation procedures and addresses some of the commonly asked questions about fire evacuation drills.

Fires, explosions, bomb threats, and chemical spills are among the occurrences that may require evacuation of a building. Always evacuate when the building alarm activates. The continuous sound and flashing of fire alarm horns and strobes in an Institute building is the evacuation signal. 

The following steps must be taken when the building alarm is activated:

  1. Stop all activities immediately. If you have been trained on internal department or class procedures that have been determined to be essential prior to evacuation, take action only if it can be done quickly and if it is safe to do so. Examples include shutting off heat sources or equipment, closing fume hood sash, etc.
  2. Assess that all persons can evacuate the area. No one is expected to endanger themself to control a hazard or assist with evacuation of others, but everyone has a duty to ensure that other occupants are aware of an emergency. If you are able to, assist anyone who requires physical assistance to safely evacuate. ‚ÄčIf it is not possible to provide assistance, call 911 or Public Safety at 518-276-6611 immediately to report the individual's location to emergency responders.
    NOTE: Evacuation plans for persons with disabilities must be made part of each department's documented emergency evacuation procedures.
  3. Follow EXIT signs to the nearest safe exit. Evacuate immediately and do not backtrack to grab belongings. Close doors behind you as you exit a room. Special care should be taken with some footwear, such as clogs, sandals, heels, etc., that could hamper rapid and safe descent.
  4. Use the stairs. Never use the elevator. Walk briskly, but do not run. Stay on the right to allow emergency response personnel clear access up the stairs, along the left side.
  5. Allow others to enter the stairwell. As you approach the landing of each floor, allow evacuees from that level to enter the stairwell.
  6. Steer clear of hazards. If evacuating through the closest exit becomes difficult because of smoke, flames, or blockage, use a secondary exit. Always know two ways out of a building. 
  7. Move away from the building. Once you have exited the building, move at least 150 feet away from the building and exit doors. Do not block egress paths or routes that emergency responders may need to use to provide emergency assistance.
  8. Do not re-enter the building without an "all clear". Do not under any circumstances re-enter the facility unless authorized by fire department personnel, Public Safety, or EHS, or until a recognized RPI authority broadcasts an "all clear" message.

How often are fire drills conducted in campus buildings?
New York State Fire Code specifies the minimum frequency for evacuation drills based on the building type. Drills are held in campus buildings three or four times per year and at varying times of day.

Are fire drills announced in advance?
New York State Fire Code requires that fire evacuation drills be held at unexpected times. Therefore, advance notice is not provided to building occupants. The purpose of drills is to practice evacuation procedures in varying conditions.

What responsibilities do Building Coordinators, Supervisors, Laboratory/Shop Managers and Instructors have related to building evacuations?

  • An important part of emergency preparedness is to ensure building occupants are prepared. Building Coordinators, Supervisors, Laboratory/Shop Managers and Instructors should review building evacuation procedures with occupants in advance of an emergency. For example, review building evacuation procedures with new employees, student workers or visitors when they first arrive in your building. If you are teaching a class or supervising students in a laboratory or shop, review building evacuation procedures with your students at the start of the semester.
  • If there are specific department or class procedures that have been determined to be essential prior to evacuation (examples: shutting off heat sources or equipment, closing fume hood sash, etc.), provide training and ensure those actions are only taken if necessary and if the actions can be done quickly.  
  • Once outside the building, take account of those you know were in your areas. If you have concerns about the whereabouts of an individual, report the information to Public Safety or EHS. 
  • Remain at the assembly area to await further instructions or to provide assistance to Public Safety or EHS, depending on the nature of the emergency.

If you have any questions about evacuation procedures or fire evacuation drills, contact

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