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Alarm Systems and Evacuation Plans


October 2003
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-101
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Self-Inspection Checklist

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This checklist covers regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under 29 CFR 1910.164, 1910.165 and 1910.38. It applies to fire detection and alarm systems and to fire and emergency action plans. The regulations cited apply only to private employers and their employees, unless adopted by a State agency and applied to other groups such as public employees. The OSHA code for emergency action and fire prevention plans under 1910.38 is comprehensive and covers emergencies other than fires. The ideal fire and emergency action plan, however, should include all the requirements. Fire alarm and detection systems installed in full compliance with existing building codes may not have to be upgraded to meet existing code regulations. Detailed annual testing requirements of automatic and manual fire alarm systems and fire detection systems have not be included in this checklist. Please consult 29 CFR 1910.164, 1910.165 and 5:18-3.4(c)6 and (c)8 for additional details.

  1. Is your school equipped with a manual fire alarm system? [recommended]
  2. Is your school equipped with an automatic fire alarm system activated by fire or smoke detectors? [recommended]
  3. Are manual fire alarms provided in the natural path of escape for areas that serve 50 or more persons? [recommended]
  4. Is the distance to any manual fire alarm no more than 200 feet of unobstructed horizontal distance on the same floor? [recommended]
  5. Is a smoke or heat detector located in each classroom? [recommended]
  6. Is the detector paint free, unobscured, and unobstructed? [recommended]
  7. Is disabling, tampering, or interfering with fire detectors and the fire alarm system prohibited? [recommended]
  8. Are fire drills conducted at least once a month? [recommended]
  9. Are records maintained on each fire drill including the (a) date of the drill, (b) time of the drill, (c) weather conditions, (d) number of occupants evacuated, and (e) total time for evacuation? [recommended]
  10. Are all building occupants evacuated in each fire drill? [recommended]
  11. Are all alarm and fire-detection systems maintained in operating condition except when undergoing repair or maintenance? [29 CFR 1910.164(c)(1) and 1910.165(d)(1)]
  12. Is the servicing, maintenance, and testing of fire-detection systems (including cleaning and necessary sensitivity adjustments) performed only by people trained in the operation and function of the system? [29 CFR 1910.164(c)(4)]
  13. Are fire detectors cleaned of dirt, dust, or other particulates at regular periodic intervals? [29 CFR 1910.164(c)(5)]
  14. Are fire-detection systems that are installed outdoors or in corrosive atmospheres protected from corrosion? [29 CFR 1910.164(d)(1)]Note: A canopy, hood, or other suitable protection must be provided.
  15. Is fire-detection equipment protected from mechanical or physical impact that might render it inoperable? [29 CFR 1910.164(d)(2)]
  16. Has an approved fire safety plan been distributed to all building occupants? [recommended]
  17. Does the approved fire safety plan include (a) the location of the nearest exits and fire alarms, (b) the procedures to be followed when a smoke or fire alarm sounds, and (c) the procedures to be followed in the event of fire or smoke? [recommended]
  18. Is the evacuation plan conspicuously posted on every floor for the occupants’ use? [recommended]
  19. Is the evacuation plan maintained to reflect changes in the use and arrangement of the building? [recommended]
  20. Are all teachers trained in the duties they are to perform under the evacuation plan? [recommended]
  21. Are all occupants familiar with the location of the nearest fire alarm manual pull station? [recommended]
  22. Can the alarm be perceived above ambient noise or light levels by everyone in the area? [29 CFR 1910.165(b)(2)]
  23. Are alarms distinctive and recognizable as a signal to evacuate the building or to perform actions designated under the emergency action plan? [29 CFR 1910.165(b)(3)]
  24. Are manually operated actuation devices that are used in conjunction with alarm systems unobstructed, conspicuous, and readily accessible? [29 CFR 1910.165(e)]
  25. Is a written fire prevention plan available that includes the following items? [29 CFR 1910.38(a)(2)]
    • Emergency escape procedures, signals, and routes
    • Procedures for designated employees who must remain in the facility to shut down equipment before they evacuate
    • Procedures to account for all building occupants
    • Rescue and medical duties
    • Preferred mechanisms for building occupants to report emergencies
    • Names and job titles of people who can be contacted for more information regarding evacuation plans
  26. Is a written fire prevention plan available that includes the following items? [29 CFR 1910.38(b)(2)]
    • A list of major fire hazards and their proper handling and storage procedures
    • Potential ignition sources (such as welding and smoking) and their control procedures
    • The type of fire protection equipment or systems that can control a fire
    • The names and titles of personnel responsible for maintaining equipment and systems installed to prevent or control ignitions or fires
    • The names and titles of personnel responsible for control of fuel-source hazards
    • Housekeeping procedures as they relate to preventing the accumulation of flammable and combustible waste materials
  27. Are the written emergency and fire prevention plans made available to building occupants for review? [29 CFR 1910.38(a)(5)(iii) and (b)(4)(ii)]
  28. Has training been provided to designated employees to help with the safe and orderly emergency evacuation of all building occupants? [29 CFR 1910.38(a)(5)(i)]
  29. Has the emergency and fire prevention plan been reviewed with all new and current building occupants? [29 CFR 1910.38(a)(5)(ii) and (b)(4)(ii)]