Environmental Health and Safety

Fire Emergency Action Planning

Responding to a Fire Emergency

If a fire emergency occurs, all persons at Virginia Tech have a responsibility to take immediate and appropriate action as outlined in your department's Emergency Action Plan (EAP). For those buildings that do not have a fire alarm, you may notify other occupants by knocking on doors and shouting "fire" as you exit the building. Do not jeopardize your own safety to do this. Your department's EAP will be activated and all occupants must evacuate the building. (To check if your building is equipped with an automatic fire alarm, detection and/or a fire suppression system - sprinklers, contact the Fire Safety Engineer at EHS by calling 231-3600.)

There is generally no employer expectation for employees to attempt to extinguish a fire or otherwise stay in their workplace for any reason upon being notified of a fire emergency. However, employees that oversee hot work (e.g., welding, cutting, brazing), that are involved in construction, commercial cooking or renovation operations, serve as crowd managers, or that are specifically identified by job or role must be trained to use portable fire extinguishers. Also, some employees may be required to maintain critical equipment or services or to arrange for the orderly shutdown of hazardous processes; such a requirement should be written into the employee's job description and included in your department's EAP.



If you discover or suspect a fire, sound the building fire alarm.
If there is no alarm in the building, notify other occupants by knocking on doors
and shouting "FIRE" as you leave the building.


Try to rescue others ONLY if you can do so safely.
Move at least 50 feet away from the building, out of the way of the fire dept.
Don't go back into the building until the fire department says it is safe to do so.


Dial 911 or use an "emergency" phone.
Give as much information as possible to the 911 operator.

Intentional False Alarms

A false alarm is an intentional activation of a fire alarm when no emergency exists. This does not include malfunctions of the alarm system. False alarms have the potential for causing panic and harm to building occupants unnecessarily. Anyone caught making a false alarm at Virginia Tech will be subject to criminal charges and will be referred for disciplinary action by the appropriate university department.

Fire Evacuation Planning

Each university department or unit must develop an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) that outlines the actions occupants in the building must take during emergencies. Fire evacuation planning is a part of each department's EAP. It must 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 to account for employees and occupants after evacuation. These procedures will usually include designation of an emergency assembly area.
    4. Identification and assignment of personnel responsible for rescue or emergency medical aid.
    5. The preferred and any alternative means of notifying occupants of a fire or emergency.
    6. The preferred and any alternative means of reporting fires and other emergencies to the fire department or designated emergency response organization.
    7. Identification and assignment of personnel who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan.
    8. A description of the emergency voice/alarm communication system alert tone and preprogrammed voice messages, where provided.
    9. Site plans and floor plans that show exits, primary and secondary evacuation routes, accessible egress routes, areas of refuge (if present), manual fire alarm pull stations, and assembly points.
    10. Training of departmental employees by the designated departmental coordinator.

EAP's must be reviewed or updated annually or whenever changes in staff assignments, occupancy or building layout occur. For assistance with developing your EAP, please contact the Office of Emergency Management.

Fire Prevention Plans

Fire prevention plans require an overall emphasis on the building and specific hazard associated with it's normal use. The plan identifies specific personnel responsible for fire prevention duties such as controlling the accumulation of combustibles and other potential sources of ignition. Virginia Tech buildings, owned or leased, that have large assembly venues, and academic or research buildings which have more than 500 occupants or 100 or more persons above or below the level of exit discharge must develop a fire prevention plan that includes the following:

    1. A list of major fire hazards, proper handling and storage procedures for hazardous materials, potential ignition sources associated with the normal use and occupancy of the area. In research buildings, the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) and the Laboratory Specific Documentation maintained by each laboratory will serve as the fire prevention plan for that operation.
    2. Procedures to control accumulations of flammable and combustible materials. In general, all buildings are subject to periodic inspection by EHS, during which these conditions are inspected.
    3. Identification and assignment of personnel responsible for maintenance, housekeeping and controlling fuel hazard sources. In general, maintenance and housekeeping duties are performed either by Facilities Services, the Division of Student Affairs or their contractors. Machine Shop Coordinators and Hot Work Permit Coordinators are responsible for controlling fuel source hazards in their location. Fuel hazard sources in laboratories are addressed in the CHP and laboratory specific documentation.

The fire safety plan is required to be evaluated annually or any time a change occurs in the building. The plan must be made available to the fire department, EHSS and/or the State Fire Marshal Office when requested.

In addition, the department must communicate certain information to employees, which includes:

  • Informing each employee of the fire hazard(s) to which he or she is exposed. In laboratories, this is addressed in the Chemical Hygiene Plan.
  • Review with employees, when they are initially assigned to a job, those parts of the fire prevention plan that are necessary for employees to protect themselves from potential fire hazards.
  • Review the fire prevention plan again with any employee that is reassigned to a new job with different hazards.
  • Review the plan with all employees any time a change is made to the plan.
  • Review the plan with all new hires.