- Briefing Room
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
FHWA Order 3902.5A
|Occupant Emergency Program|
|Classification Code||Date||Office of Primary Interest|
|3902.5A||June 30, 2004||HAIM-20|
What is the purpose of this directive? This directive issues policies and guidance for the appropriate emergency response for Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) occupied facilities in the event of an occupant emergency. This directive describes emergency circumstances where people will be safer by staying in the building and also circumstances where evacuation is the best course of action.
What is an occupant emergency? An occupant emergency is an event that may require employees to be evacuated from their immediate workplaces and relocated to a safer area, either inside or outside of a building. The types of emergency include fire, explosion, discovery of an explosive device, severe weather, earthquake, chemical or biological exposure or threat, hostage takeover, and any other physical threat to the safety of occupants or visitors inside a building.
Does this directive cancel an existing FHWA directive? Yes. This directive cancels FHWA Order 3902.5, Emergency Evacuation of FHWA Facilities, dated June 16, 1993.
What are the authorities and guidance for this directive? The authorities and guidance for this directive are:
Department of Transportation (DOT) Order 1100.63B, Department of Transportation Organization Manual;
FHWA Order M 1100.1A, Federal Highway Administration Delegations and Organization Manual;
DOT Order 3900.8A, Department of Transportation Fire Risk Management Program;
41 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 101-20.102-4, Occupant Emergency Program;
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Protective Service Occupant Emergency Program Guide;
Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) Shelter-In-Place Guide for the Nassif Building, Washington, DC; and
OST Memorandum, Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities, dated August 12, 2003.
What is the FHWA policy for evacuating an office or building?
The FHWA policy is to ensure for each facility that it owns, leases, or is assigned space by the GSA, that there is an Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP) that provides for the safe evacuation of FHWA employees, contractors, and visitors in the event of an emergency. All OEPs will give direction for various situations including those when Shelter-In-Place (SIP) (a plan that requires staying in designated areas of the building) is the best course of action, and those situations when it is safer to evacuate the building. All plans will include procedures that take into consideration the special needs of people with disabilities.
The guidelines for preparing OEPs are described in the DHS Occupant Emergency Program Guide. Each office will review the OEP annually and update as necessary. Updating the plan may involve offering a revision to the Designated Official (DO) if the office head does not have responsibility to complete the OEP for the space occupied by his/her office. Within 90 days of issuance of this directive, each office head will certify that he/she has met the provisions of this Order and will certify annually that he/she has updated the OEP. The link to the Occupant Emergency Plan provides an example of an OEP that is prepared using the Occupant Emergency Program Guide. The link Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities provides further guidance on ensuring provisions are made in the OEPs for people with disabilities.
What are the roles and responsibilities of the FHWA offices?
The Management Services Division in the Office of Information and Management Services shall:
(1) develop agencywide policies for emergency management and provide support and technical expertise to FHWA Washington Headquarters and field organizations in matters relating to the evacuation of FHWA occupied facilities;
(2) serve as an advocate for issues and programs involving facilities and administrative management support, and serve as the focal point for these programs;
(3) coordinate the OEPs with the Office of Transportation Operations (HOTO) which has the overall emergency preparedness and coordination responsibility for all of FHWA; and
(4) report annually to OST and the Office of the Federal Highway Administrator (HOA) regarding certifications.
Each Associate Administrator, Division Administrator, Federal Lands Highway Division Engineer, and Resource Center Manager shall have a written plan for each location within his or her control that:
(1) describes responsibilities of emergency team members, which include people with disabilities and/or official representatives of people with disabilities in the planning or revision of occupant emergency plans;
(2) provides a procedure for reporting emergencies;
(3) provides a list of telephone numbers for emergency service providers such as the local building manager and the DHS local representatives;
(4) describes the building emergency enunciation system(s), such as voice, alarm, strobe, etc.;
(5) describes evacuation procedures;
(6) describes SIP procedures;
(7) describes procedures for evacuating or sheltering people with disabilities;
(8) describes accommodations for people with disabilities that may include providing communication plans in alternate formats;
(9) describes procedures to return to work; and
(10) determines when and what action is called for in an emergency situation (i.e., SIP, evacuation of the building, etc.).
The Division Administrators, Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers, and Resource Center Managers shall perform the duties of the DO for FHWA field offices. In the event that another Federal agency is the lead agency for the building and in that capacity prepares and manages the OEP for the building, the FHWA Division Administrators, Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers, and Resource Center Managers shall serve as Occupant Emergency Coordinators (OECs).
(1) The DOs are responsible for the following:
(a) prepare and manage the OEPs for each building under his/her purview;
(b) be knowledgeable of the OEP for the building and provide updates as necessary;
(c) review and certify the OEP annually and update as necessary;
(d) provide a copy of the pertinent OEP to all employees and contractors within his/her purview and annually certify the accuracy of the OEP;
(e) staff the Occupant Emergency Organizations (OEOs) including Floor Warden Teams;
(f) train the staff serving as wardens and in other roles in the OEO;
(g) direct emergency operations;
(h) conduct periodic evacuation drills;
(i) evaluate the results of drills and revise the OEP to correct any deficiencies that are discovered;
(j) appoint OECs;
(k) cooperate with other agencies and occupants in buildings where there are multiple tenancies;
(l) provide funding for OEP training; and
(m) ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are addressed (see paragraph 8).
(2) The OEC is responsible for the following:
(a) assist the DO and assume the DO's responsibilities in his/her absence;
(b) certify the accuracy of the FHWA portion of the OEP annually where the DO is from a different agency;
(c) where the DO is from a different agency, provide accommodations including communication plans in alternate formats for people with disabilities (who are affiliated with the FHWA); and
(d) provide staff to the DO for OEO positions (such as floor warden).
Associate Administrators shall perform the duties of the OEC as well as the following:
(1) provide hard copies and electronic copies of the Washington Headquarters OEP to all employees under his/her purview; and
(2) send staff participating in the OEO to OST-conducted training.
The FHWA employees and contractors shall:
(1) evacuate the work area upon the sounding of the alarm signal or upon being instructed by the floor warden, and follow the warden's instructions;
(2) properly protect classified material and disconnect electrical equipment prior to evacuating the building, provided circumstances permit; and
Who has the authority to evacuate the building and release employees and contractors?
The DO in each building has the authority to evacuate the building and/or FHWA employees and contractors in emergency and life-threatening situations. The DO shall contact local security or the DHS immediately for consultation and assistance in deciding whether the building should be evacuated when a potential emergency involves a bomb threat. When a potential emergency arises because of a building systems failure, the DO will inform the local building services or property management office of the system failure. Together the DO and the property management will decide if the building will be evacuated. The FHWA managers who are OECs should follow the example of the DO but should notify the Associate Administrator for Administration if employees are released.
Washington Headquarters OECs are not authorized to release employees from work. The Associate Administrator for Administration and the Assistant Secretary for Administration, OST, will decide what actions to take after consulting with the OECs. If possible, the release of employees and closing of offices in field installations shall be coordinated with the release of other DOT and Federal employees in the area. This is often accomplished through local Federal Executive Boards.
All FHWA DOs and OECs shall report all emergencies related events to the agencywide safety officer (202-366-1849) after any emergency building evacuations or release of employees.
How should a DO plan for the evacuation of people with disabilities?
People with disabilities have the responsibility for their own safety contingency planning and for disclosing necessary information to the DO. In turn, the DO has a responsibility to perform a risk analysis, provide reasonable accommodations and training for OEP participants, and provide written instructions for the accommodation of individuals with disabilities within the OEP. The guidelines and documentation tools are available on the Staffnet at Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities.
While every building presents unique challenges to planning for the evacuation of people with disabilities, there are key points to remember when planning, based on the type of disability a person may have. The following are potential situations and solutions to remember when you are analyzing reasonable accommodations.
(1) People who are mobility-impaired. When an alarm sounds, people using wheelchairs should either stay in place or move to an "Area of Refuge" and wait for assistance from trained emergency personnel. An Area of Refuge should be clearly marked and must have a 1-hour fire rated assembly (door, walls and ceiling). Elevators can be used only if authorized by emergency personnel.
(2) People who are mobility-impaired, but do not use a wheelchair. People with mobility impairments, including those who may have a temporary medical condition, are obese, are pregnant, or who are not normally able to walk independently may be able to ascend or descend stairs in an emergency with minor assistance. In an actual evacuation, these individuals may choose to wait until heavy traffic has cleared before attempting stairs. If there is no immediate danger, the person with a disability may choose to move to an Area of Refuge until emergency personnel arrive. Elevators can be used only if authorized by emergency personnel.
(3) People who are hearing-impaired. Most of the buildings FHWA occupies are equipped with fire bells and strobe lights that simultaneously sound an alarm (auditory) and flash strobe lights (visual). Although this system is intended to alert hearing-impaired individuals, they may not notice or hear emergency alarms and may need to be alerted to emergency situations. The solutions may include installing a system to alert the employee by means of a wireless device that an alarm has sounded. At a minimum, a "Buddy System" must be a part of the OEP.
(4) People who are visually-impaired. People with visual impairments are generally familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently traveled routes. Nonetheless, because the emergency evacuation route might be different from commonly traveled routes, people who have a sight disability should be assisted by a "Buddy" to exit the building.
(5) People who are hearing and visually-impaired. People with hearing and visual impairments must be alerted to emergency situations. People with hearing and visual impairments may be familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently traveled routes. Nonetheless, since the emergency evacuation route might be different from commonly traveled routes, people with these impairments should be assisted by a "Buddy" to exit the building.
What training responsibilities does the DO have? The DO is responsible to train the members of the OEO. The OEO participants shall have knowledge of the OEP and the hazards to which they may be exposed in order to be proficient at their assignments. Local GSA and DHS Federal Protection Service officers may also be available to provide assistance such as preparing a training plan and recommending training materials. The OECs located in the Nassif building cooperate with the DO to ensure that the OEO participants are trained.
How often should the DO hold drills? Evacuation drills will be held at least once annually to determine the effectiveness of the emergency procedures and to familiarize building occupants and wardens with the OEP. Site coordinators will plan and conduct the drills. The OST plans the drills for the Nassif building. The GSA will plan the drills in Federal and leased buildings. The FHWA is responsible for planning and conducting drills in FHWA-owned space. The drills must be coordinated with the local fire department. People with disabilities may request additional drills that only involve the disabled.
What can I do to prepare for an emergency? Each employee is responsible for his/her own "GO KIT" (disaster supply kit). The kit may contain a change of clothes, soap, and a towel; bottles of water; several non-perishable snacks; a small blanket and pillow; a flashlight; and an extra supply of any medications that must be taken regularly. The DO will ensure that there is a battery-operated radio in his/her workplace. Each person should check to see if the local government (city/county) web sites have information on what to do in case of an emergency evacuation.
When should an office evacuate versus SIP? Facility management and local officials are the best source of information when determining whether to evacuate or SIP. In the event of an emergency, individuals should follow the directions of the emergency officials. Emergency conditions may require that you seek immediate protection in your home, place of employment, school or other location when disaster strikes. The individual employees should take steps to prepare in advance in case local officials direct an evacuation. The individual preparation should include having a disaster supply kit that is portable.
What do I do when told to evacuate the building?
Remain calm and follow all instructions given by emergency wardens;
Be aware of people with disabilities in your area that may require your assistance;
Begin to evacuate immediately;
Secure all classified material in an appropriate manner before leaving your work area;
If it won't delay your exiting, take your coat, wallet, purse, and/or identification;
Use elevators only if instructed to do so by emergency personnel;
Walk quickly and calmly to the nearest marked exit and ask others to do the same;
Exit the building and move directly to the assembly point;
Once at the assembly point, report to your supervisor and stay with your group; and
Do not re-enter the building until told by the authorities that it is safe to do so.
What does it mean to SIP? SIP means that you should remain inside at your present location with doors and windows kept closed. This could mean remaining at your desk or proceeding to another location within the building away from windows or glass structural elements.
What do I do when the DO instructs me to SIP?
Listen for instructions that are conveyed over the voice/alarm system, public address system, or from your supervisor;
Remain at your workstationor current location until directed to do otherwise;
Proceed to safe locations that were previously identified in the OEP or identified by announcement;
Turn off any fans or heaters to reduce the spread of contamination;
Stay away from windows; and
If you must use the phone, keep conversations short to keep the telephone lines open.
What if I am outside and advised to SIP? If you are outside and advised to SIP, you must go into the nearest building and follow the SIP procedures for that building. You must also contact your office as soon as possible and explain your situation.
What do I do if I am telecommuting when my primary office is evacuated and my telecommuting site is not affected by the primary office evacuation? During an evacuation or SIP of a primary worksite, there should be no impact to a telecommuting employee. However, if the emergency is determined to last for an extended period, supervisors may wish to contact the employees to notify them of the status of the building. Employees are ultimately responsible for knowing the operating status of their office by monitoring local media (e.g. radio, television, internet) or other local worksite practices or procedures.
Michael J. Vecchietti