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  6. Guidance for Occupant Emergency Planning

Federal Protective Service Guidance for Occupant Emergency Planning

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The Federal Protective Service assists tenants with writing and implementing emergency plans to address the needs of the specific facility, including what local emergency responder coordination is required and how to establish communication procedures for building occupants. The sections below contain guidance on what details facility managers and building tenants should include in Occupant Emergency Plans.

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Security and emergency preparedness at work, at home, and in the community is everyone's responsibility. It requires coordinated prevention, protection, response, and recovery activities that span the preparedness spectrum.

In the workplace, whether in a stand-alone facility or facilities grouped as part of an installation or campus setting, occupants need to understand the nature of potential emergencies and what actions to take if emergencies do occur. Life safety, communication, efficiency, and roles and responsibilities are critical components to enhancing the security and preparedness of facility occupants.

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Occupant Emergency Plans (OEPs) are used to address preparedness, and must be written, implemented, and maintained. OEPs require coordination among facility management and occupants, as well as with external emergency response resources. They describe actions that occupants should take to ensure their safety if a fire or other emergency situation occurs. These plans reduce the threat to personnel, property, and other assets within the facility in the event of an incident inside or immediately surrounding a facility by providing facility-specific response procedures.

To be most effective at protecting life and property, all OEPs will:

  • Provide clear instruction on roles and responsibilities for all aspects of the preparedness spectrum, from prevention and protection to response and recovery.
  • Use an approach that includes procedures to handle a wide range of hazards and threats - such as medical emergencies, bomb threats, suspicious packages, and natural disasters - that could affect a facility.
  • Meet the specific characteristics, needs, and criteria for each facility. For example, location-specific procedures are added to address unique threats or hazards such as hazardous materials spills or releases of radioactive materials from within or surrounding the facility.
  • Involve coordination with local emergency responders.
  • Consider safety codes and regulations when developing and implementing emergency planning, such as the International Fire Code and NFPA Life Safety Code.1
  • Address multi-jurisdictional issues regarding mass care, sheltering, and evacuation.

To request a copy of FPS guidance on Occupant Emergency Planning, please e-mail FPSInfo@dhs.gov.

1. It should be noted that codes and regulations change frequently, and may necessitate regular updates to OEPs. Codes of a specific edition that is not necessarily current may be adopted by local jurisdictions. It is important that the OEP remain generic enough to allow for flexibility for situations such as when codes are adopted by many different Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs).

Last Updated: 03/16/2022
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