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Emergency Response

Departmental Emergency Action Plan

There are situations which require that all or parts of the building be evacuated. Examples are major fires, power outages, and major chemical spills. All possible attempts shall be made to circulate information as to the type of emergency and the proper evacuation routes. During normal working hours (8:00 AM - 5:00 PM), there will be staff members assigned to each floor (wearing yellow hats) to assist and direct building occupants in the case of an emergency evacuation. After hours (5:00 PM - 8:00 AM), the researchers in the chemistry building must rely upon one another for safety. Should you hear the alarm sound, leave the building immediately because someone is warning you of a severe hazard. Go to the main rally site located near the Shaw Lane parking ramp. You will receive further instruction from police/fire personnel.

In any evacuation, steps should be taken, if possible, to secure equipment so damage will be minimized. All equipment such as fans, heaters, and computers should be turned off. All doors should be closed and locked. This is advised both from a security aspect as well as for the need to contain the spread of any hazard. All occupants should carry any personal items (e.g. coats, purses, paperwork) that might be required if the building were to be closed overnight. Once the building has been evacuated, you are not allowed to return to your office or workstation until notified by the appropriate officials.

Severe Weather (i.e., tornado warnings) is announced by DPS with a siren located on the Chemistry Building roof which can be heard throughout most of the building. (An actual severe weather alarm should not be confused with the testing of the severe weather alarm that takes place at 12:30 p.m. on the first working day of each month.) All areas above ground are to be evacuated immediately via the center stairwells to basement or subbasement. Occupants of lower level floors could move to rooms with no windows such as bathrooms. Extra care should be exercised while moving down through the unavoidable areas of the first floor front entrance, due to the large area of exposed glass. Elevators should not be and cannot be depended on for use during any evacuation procedure. The end stairwells are especially hazardous during weather alerts due to the large exposed glass area and therefore should not be used. In the past, windows located in the end stairwells have blown in and would likely be blown in during severe weather. All persons are to remain below ground level until "the all clear" is announced by the officials from the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety. The building occupants will not be allowed to congregate in the lobbies or stairwells due to the potential hazard of flying glass. It is extremely important that everyone moves well into the basement and/or sub-basement rapidly so as to allow shelter to those still arriving via the stairwells. This year, experts believe that the number of twisters may double in Michigan due to La Nina which is an unusual cooling of the eastern Pacific Ocean (opposite of El Nino). We should be prepared just in case they are right!

Major fires require rapid evacuation. If the fire alarms are sounded (loud buzzer noise in the hallways) evacuate immediately. Use the nearest stairwell not blocked by smoke or flames. Do not use the elevators. Close all doors - especially any fire doors. If you are the person discovering a fire, call 911 (or use the red phone) and then sound the alarm. The fire alarm boxes are located near the stairwells.

If you are trapped in a smoky corridor, remember that smoke tends to rise, leaving the cleanest air near the floor. Crawl on the floor to the nearest exit. Get outside as rapidly as possible. The firemen will probably be using the main entrance and center stairwell first. Try to avoid congestion in these areas.

Major chemical spills and gas leaks are similar with two likely exceptions: the fumes are usually invisible and heavier than air. They may accumulate in low points. If you are below ground level, leave the building as soon as possible. Many fumes are flammable or even explosive. Put out all potential sources of ignition immediately. Do not turn lights or any other electrical equipment on or off. Avoid any action that may create sparks.

Power failures or loss of ventilation also requires the evacuation of the building, although in this case it can be more orderly. Experience has shown that the air within the building becomes unhealthy surprisingly fast once the ventilation system stops. Though you have sufficient time to leave the building in an orderly fashion, you could easily become trapped by toxic gases if you delay your evacuation too long.

All employees not assisting in the evacuation of the building shall proceed to the front of Shaw Hall and wait there for instruction. Obviously all personnel should avoid obstructing emergency traffic areas. It is important that employees do not leave without their supervisor's permission, or in the case of post working hours, their knowledge. All personnel need to be accounted for or be present to help account for others. As many of you are aware, a command post for fire and hazardous material incidents is established at the Fire Department Command Vehicle. This is usually a Fire Department red "Suburban". For police incidents such as bomb threats, man-with-a gun calls, etc., the command post will be a police vehicle. People with important/first hand information pertaining to the incident, should go to the command post and inform the officials.


Evacuation Procedures

For emergencies (such as fire, chemical spill, electrical power outage, ...) which require evacuation of the Chemistry Building, emergency coordinators are vital to achieving an orderly, safe, and complete evacuation.

When the fire/evacuation alarm sounds, or a voice message is given over the public address system, or the lights go out:

  • All students, faculty, visitors, and employees NOT assigned to assist in the evacuation:
    • Promptly and orderly leave the building (taking coats, briefcases, etc., which may be needed before the building can be re-entered).
    • Go to our rally site (in front of the Shaw bus terminal and on the northeast corner of Farrall Agriculture Engineering Building).
    • Remain there until cleared to leave by a supervisor.
  • All emergency coordinators having a floor assignment (see list, below):
    • Gather by the elevators on their assigned floors, being sure to wear their yellow hard-hats and to bring their kit, flashlight, and evacuation check list.
    • If any emergency coordinator is absent, another on that floor will phone the command center (see bottom of page) and a floater will be sent, or assignments altered, to ensure coverage of the absent person's responsibilities.
    • Conduct a sweep check of their assigned areas, knocking on closed doors and alerting everyone to the emergency and requesting that they leave the building, and closing all open doors.
    • Take the end stairwell to the 1st floor and report to the floater (the one with a radio, from the list below) the status of the sweep and any problems noted on the checklist. The floater will relay this information to the evacuation coordinator who will compile it onto an emergency team leader's checklist and give it to the incident commander (a police or fire officer) to report the completeness of the sweeps and evacuation and to alert the incident commander of any problems that need addressing.
  • All emergency coordinators having an entrance assignment (see list, below):
    • When the sweeps are completed and reported, the emergency coordinators will go to their entrance assignments (see list, below) to ensure that no one re-enters the building before the building is secured by the police or declared safe to enter.

NOTE: All employees, after leaving the building, will gather at our rally site (in front of the Shaw bus terminal and on the northeast corner of Farrall Agriculture Engineering Building) and MUST NOT leave without the knowledge of, and permission from, their supervisor.

NOTE: In accordance with the directive from the MSU Vice President for Finance and Operations that every building have an annual fire drill, DPPS intends to give us only one noisy day a year by combining our fire drill with their annual testing of our building's fire/evacuation alarm system. Those not leaving the building during the drill can expect to explain their inaction to a police officer.


Emergency Forms

Emergency Evacuation Checklist (used by evacuation coordinators) (pdf).

Emergency Evacuation Summary Checklist (used only by team leader) (pdf).