How To Create An Emergency Response Plan
In preparation for National Preparedness Month, happening in September, we will be publishing a series of articles sharing tips for businesses and buildings to create and implement a successful emergency response plan.
Whether you’re preparing your first or updating an existing emergency response plan, the basic process is the same. Don’t know where to start? Here are the initial steps we recommend:
1. Assemble a Team. At minimum, your emergency planning team should include representatives from:
- Property/facility management
- Security (if applicable)
At some point in the process, make sure that supervisors from janitorial, parking, and other regularly on-site vendors are involved.
2. Collect Information. Gather:
- Existing fire safety or emergency response plans, if any
- Floor plan diagrams
- Any plans prepared by tenants or departments within your facility
- Security post orders (building lockdown, active shooter, shelter in place, etc.)
- Local Fire Department requirements. Don’t try to digest the entire fire code. Inquire what guidelines the local jurisdiction has issued regarding your type of facility and whether you’re considered a high or low-rise building, and the local policy for internal relocation in the event of a high-rise fire.)
- Guidelines on current best practices. Industry organizations such as BOMA and NFPA publish excellent references – consult these or a third-party consultant to help ensure you’re planning for all scenarios and cover all the bases. (More on this in future posts).
3. Hold Planning Sessions. Schedule one or more planning sessions with the entire team. If this is your first plan, we recommend allowing at least 3 hours for your initial planning session.
Have a draft of your core emergency responses and scenarios for the team to work from (use the materials in the OEP Template or borrow a plan from another GSA facility). It’s more efficient to mark up an existing draft than to start from scratch. We recommend distributing this draft, along with any supporting documents, to team members before the planning session.
4. Final Review and Approval. When your team is satisfied that the plan is ready, get sign-off from leadership. Some Fire Departments expect or require that you submit your plan for their review. Keep a copy available in your Fire Control Room, property management office, engineering office, and off-site.
5. Schedule Training. Planning is only the first step. Now you need to effectively train your staff, floor wardens, and occupants on their roles & responsibilities in an emergency. Just as you did with your plan, customize the training to the audience and specifics of your facility.
6. Maintenance and Updates. Plan to update your emergency response plan every six months or upon any significant change to the building’s systems, operations, or occupancy. Staff and warden rosters, along with lists of occupants with mobility impairments, are the items that change most frequently.