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FIRE SAFETY/FIRE PREVENTION AT PDCCC – The results of the last fire drill sent a chill down my back, it was slow, largely ignored, not conducted per standing operating procedures and basically treated as a nuisance.   I have quoted the state rules for fire drills and other aspects of fire safety in the hope of raising awareness among the staff and students.  Please remember that smoke inhalation will kill long before fire itself does, based on the drill we would be mourning a half-dozen lives.  Students refused to honor the alarm, then took time to collect personal effects to leave, faculty and office managers did not do personal accountability, if there were 13 people in the classroom the faculty is responsible for ensuring and reporting all 13 got out.  No one seems to know where the Emergency Evacuation Areas are, what they are for.  We even have games of hide and seek during the drills where staff hide and the fire wardens try to find them.  In terms we should all understand;  ” IF A STUDENT/STAFF DIES BECAUSE WE DID NOT FOLLOW OUR PUBLISHED FIRE PLANS OR ANY OF THE BELOW LISTED STATE REGULATIONS WE ARE GOING TO LOSE OUR JOBS, AND SOMEONE GETS TO GO TO JAIL.”

VIRGINIA STATEWIDE FIRE PREVENTION CODE REVIEW 101

Paul D. Camp Community College buildings are state owned buildings. What law do we follow? Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code

27-99. (Effective until July 1, 2008) State buildings.

The Fire Prevention Code shall be applicable to all state-owned buildings and structures. Every agency, commission or institution, including all institutions of higher education, of the Commonwealth shall permit, at all reasonable hours, a local fire official reasonable access to existing structures or a structure under construction or renovation, for the purposes of performing an informational and advisory fire safety inspection. The local fire official may submit, subsequent to performing such inspection, his findings and recommendations including a list of corrective actions necessary to ensure that such structure is reasonably safe from the hazards of fire to the appropriate official of such agency, commission, or institution and the State Fire Marshal. Such agency, commission or institution shall notify, within 60 days of receipt of such findings and recommendations, the State Fire Marshal and the local fire official of the corrective measures taken to eliminate the hazards reported by the local fire official. The State Fire Marshal shall have the same power in the enforcement of this section as is provided for in § 27-98.

Who enforces the laws we are required to follow? Virginia State Fire Marshall Office, Virginia State Police and Local Agencies.

The State Fire Marshal may enter into an agreement as is provided for in § 9.1-207 with any local enforcement agency that enforces the Fire Prevention Code to enforce this section and to take immediate enforcement action upon verification of a complaint of an imminent hazard such as a chained or blocked exit door, improper storage of flammable liquids, use of decorative materials and overcrowding.

What type of buildings are located at PDCCC campuses? Group R-2.

403.9.2 Group R-2 occupancies. Group R-2 occupancies shall comply with Sections 403.9.2.1 through 403.9.2.3. 

403.9.2.1 College and university buildings. An approved fire safety and evacuation plan in accordance with Section 404 shall be prepared and maintained for Group R-2 college and university buildings. Group R-2 college and university buildings shall also comply with Sections 403.9.2.1.1 and 403.9.2.1.2. 

403.9.2.1.1 First emergency evacuation drill. The first emergency evacuation drill of each school year shall be conducted within 10 days of the beginning of classes. 

403.9.2.1.2 Time of day. Emergency evacuation drills shall be conducted at different hours of the day or evening, during the changing of classes, when the school is at assembly, during the recess or gymnastic periods, or during other times to avoid distinction between drills and actual fires. One required drill shall be held during hours after sunset or before sunrise.

 

Any exception to the rules regarding fire alarm drills? Yes.

405.1 General. Emergency evacuation drills complying with Sections 405.2 through 405.9 shall be conducted at least annually where fire safety and evacuation plans are required by Section 403 or when required by the fire code official. Drills shall be designed in cooperation with the local authorities. 

Exception: Emergency evacuation drills shall not be conducted in school buildings during periods of mandatory testing required by the Virginia Board of Education.

 

What if someone refuses to leave when a fire alarm is sounding? They are violating the law.

110.6 Unlawful continuance. Any person who refuses to leave, interferes with the evacuation of other occupants or continues any operation after having been given an evacuation order shall be in violation of this code. 

Exception: Any person performing work directed by the fire official to be performed to remove an alleged violation or unsafe condition

 

Are we required to have Evacuation and Lockdown plans? Yes.

SECTION 404 FIRE SAFETY, EVACUATION AND LOCKDOWN PLANS 

404.1 General. Where required by Section 403, fire safety, evacuation and lockdown plans shall comply with Sections 404.2 through 404.4.1. 

404.2 Contents. Fire safety and evacuation plan contents shall be in accordance with Sections 404.2.1 and 404.2.2. 

404.2.1 Fire evacuation plans. Fire evacuation plans shall include the following: 

1. Emergency egress or escape routes and whether evacuation of the building is to be complete or, where approved, by selected floors or areas only. 

2. Procedures for employees who must remain to operate critical equipment before evacuating. 

3. Procedures for assisted rescue for persons unable to use the general means of egress unassisted. 

4. Procedures for accounting for employees and occupants after evacuation has been completed.  PAR (Personnel Accountability Report)

5. Identification and assignment of personnel responsible for rescue or emergency medical aid. 

6. The preferred and any alternative means of notifying occupants of a fire or emergency. 

7. The preferred and any alternative means of reporting fires and other emergencies to the fire department or designated emergency response organization. 

8. Identification and assignment of personnel who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan. 

9. A description of the emergency voice/alarm communication system alert tone and preprogrammed voice messages, where provided. 

404.2.2 Fire safety plans. Fire safety plans shall include the following: 

1. The procedure for reporting a fire or other emergency. 

2. The life safety strategy and procedures for notifying, relocating or evacuating occupants, including occupants who need assistance. 

3. Site plans indicating the following: 

3.1. The occupancy assembly point. 

3.2. The locations of fire hydrants. 

3.3. The normal routes of fire department vehicle access. 

4. Floor plans identifying the locations of the following: 

4.1. Exits. 

4.2. Primary evacuation routes. 

4.3. Secondary evacuation routes. 

4.4. Accessible egress routes. 

4.5. Areas of refuge. 

4.6. Exterior areas for assisted rescue. 

4.7. Manual fire alarm boxes. 

4.8. Portable fire extinguishers. 

4.9. Occupant-use hose stations. 

4.10. Fire alarm annunciators and controls. 

5. A list of major fire hazards associated with the normal use and occupancy of the premises, including maintenance and housekeeping procedures. 

6. Identification and assignment of personnel responsible for maintenance of systems and equipment installed to prevent or control fires. 

7. Identification and assignment of personnel responsible for maintenance, housekeeping and controlling fuel hazard sources.   

404.2.3 Lockdown plans. Where facilities develop a lockdown plan, the lockdown plan shall be in accordance with Sections 404.2.3.1 through 404.2.3.3. 

404.2.3.1 Lockdown plan contents. Lockdown plans shall be approved by the fire code official and shall include the following: 

1. Initiation. The plan shall include instructions for reporting an emergency that requires a lockdown. 

2. Accountability. The plan shall include accountability procedures for staff to report the presence or absence of occupants. 

3. Recall. The plan shall include a prearranged signal for returning to normal activity. 

4. Communication and coordination. The plan shall include an approved means of two-way communication between a central location and each secured area. 

Is there required training regarding Lockdown procedures? Yes

404.2.3.2 Training frequency. The training frequency shall be included in the lockdown plan. The lockdown drills shall not substitute for any of the fire and evacuation drills required in Section 405.2. 

404.2.3.3 Lockdown notification. The method of notifying building occupants of a lockdown shall be included in the plan. The method of notification shall be separate and distinct from the fire alarm signal. 

404.3 Maintenance. Fire safety and evacuation plans shall be reviewed or updated annually or as necessitated by changes in staff assignments, occupancy or the physical arrangement of the building. 

404.4 Availability. Fire safety and evacuation plans shall be available in the workplace for reference and review by employees, and copies shall be furnished to the fire code official for review upon request. 

404.4.1 Distribution. The fire safety and evacuation plans shall be distributed to the tenants and building service employees by the owner or owner’s agent. Tenants shall distribute to their employees applicable parts of the fire safety plan affecting the employees’ actions in the event of a fire or other emergency. 

NEW NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH WEBSITE.  Visit nationalneighborhoodwatch.org for the latest information on how to establish a watch organization in your local community/neighborhood.

HURRICANE SEASON.  Weather forecasters are predicting an earlier than usual s eason indicating that the season will start much earlier this year.  Please visit  www.ReadyVirginia.gov for tips on how to prepare your family for a natural disaster.

FIREARMS ON CAMPUS.  State law and college policy both prohibit weapons inside college facilities.  Weapons, primarily firearms are permited on campus if secured in a vehicle by persons possessing valid “Concealed Carry Permits”

TORNADO APPLICATION.  As you know, tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long and every state is at some risk from this hazard.  The American Red Cross has developed  an official Tornado app. The Tornado app sounds an alarm when NOAA issues a tornado warning for your location, even when the app is closed. In addition, the app puts everything you need to know to prepare for an impending tornado in the palm of your hand.  This app may serve as a great tool for responders from all disciplines. Consider taking advantage of this tool.

911 CALLS FROM CELL PHONES COULD DELAY RESCUE:

It’s a growing concern for 911 dispatchers in our area; people calling in from cell phones, and not knowing where they are. A 911 call for a recent structure fire in Lynchburg was made from a cell phone. The caller did not know the address of the fire. Crews made it to the scene, but only after dispatchers were forced to find the right location. WSET – Full Story