U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content

Home / Resources / Legislation, Regulations and Guidance / Directives and Memorandum / Orders

FHWA Order 3902.5

Classification Code Date Office of Primary Interest
3902.5 June 16, 1993 HAHR-10


  1. Purpose
  2. Cancellation
  3. Authority
  4. Applicability
  5. Definitions
  6. Occupant Emergency Plans
  7. Designated Officials
  8. Responsibilities
  9. Building Evacuations and Release of Employees
  10. Evacuation of Persons with Disabilities
  11. Training
  12. Drills

  1. PURPOSE. To prescribe procedures and guidelines for the evacuation of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) offices and buildings in the event of emergencies threatening the safety of FHWA personnel.

  2. CANCELLATION. Volume 32, Chapter I, of the FHWA Administrative Manual, dated August 1, 1975, is canceled.

    1. Federal Property Management Regulation, Subpart 101-20.103, Physical Protection and Building Security (41 CFR 101-20.1).
    2. Department of Transportation (DOT) Fire Risk Management Program, DOT Order 3900.8A.
    3. Occupant Emergency Program Guide, 1990, published by the GSA, Office of Federal Protective Service Management.
    4. Occupant Emergency Plan, GSA Bulletin FPMR D-196, March 23, 1983.

  4. APPLICABILITY. This Order applies to all FHWA employees located in the FHWA Building, in the Washington, D.C. area, and in all FHWA field offices.
  5. DEFINITIONS. For the purpose of this Order, the following definitions are applicable:

    1. Designated Official - a high-ranking official of the FHWA whose normal place of duty (or business) is situated in the subject building, who is responsible for the OEP.
    2. Emergency - an urgent occurrence requiring immediate action which might involve bombings, bomb threats, civil disturbances, fires, explosions, floods, electrical power failures, hostage situations, medical emergencies, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, or other natural disasters or accidental disasters. The term does not apply to emergency preparedness as related to civil defense matters such as potential or actual enemy attack.
    3. Occupant Emergency Coordinator - an official who assists the Designated Official and has full authority to direct emergency operations in the absence of the Designated Official.
    4. Occupant Emergency (Warden) Organization - an organization of employees in a specific building designated to carry out the requirements of the OEP.
    5. Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP) - the written methods and procedures to be used for evacuation and protection of personnel during an emergency in or near a particular building.
    6. Occupant Emergency Program - an organized and systematic set of emergency response activities involving building occupants to minimize injury and loss of life during emergency situations.
    7. Warden - employees designated as a member of the Occupant Emergency Organization to assist in the orderly evacuation of the facility.

    1. The FHWA Washington Headquarters, Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC), and each Federal activity shall have a plan, in writing, containing the following:

        (1) Organization

        (2) Responsibilities

        (3) Fire Alarm Signal

        (4) Reporting Emergencies

        (5) Building Evacuation

        (6) Evacuation of persons with disabilities

        (7) Re-entry of Building

        (8) Submission of Reports

    2. An example of an OEP, which follows the outline above, is attached.

    3. The plan shall be prepared using the guidelines described in the Occupant Emergency Program Guide. The plan will be reviewed annually and updated when necessary. The Regional or Federal Lands Division Safety Officer will review the updated plans. Sufficient copies of the approved plan will be provided to the Designated Officials for distribution to all officials and the Occupant Emergency Organization including each floor warden.

  7. DESIGNATED OFFICIALS. The Designated Official for the Washington Headquarters is the Associate Administrator for Administration. The highest ranking official in the respective field office is normally the Designated Official for that activity.


    1. The FHWA Designated Official for the activity shall be responsible for:

        (1) preparing and coordinating the OEPs for all FHWA personnel for that activity;

        (2) providing or approving the OEPs for their respective building locations;

        (3) providing support to the overall program as necessary, including resources necessary for equipment, preparing the OEP and training;

        (4) being knowledgeable of the building's OEP and keeping it updated;

        (5) staffing the Occupant Emergency Organization, including Floor Warden Teams;

        (6) training, including its budgeting, the Occupant Emergency Organization;

        (7) ensuring that building occupants are familiar with the emergency evacuation procedures;

        (8) directing emergency operations; and

        (9) conducting periodic evacuation drills, evaluating the results and correct any deficiencies.

    2. The Occupant Emergency Coordinator shall be responsible for assisting the Designated Official and taking on the Designated Official's responsibilities in his/her absence.

    3. The Occupant Emergency Organization under the direction of the Designated Official, shall be responsible for carrying out all emergency operations and assisting in the safe and orderly evacuation of building occupants.

    4. The FHWA Employee shall:

        (1) evacuate the building upon sounding of the alarm signal or upon being so instructed by the floor warden and follow the warden instructions;

        (2) properly protect classified material and disconnect electrical equipment prior to evacuating the building provided circumstances permit; and

        (3) remain in the designated assembly area until otherwise instructed by wardens or anotherOccupant Emergency Organization Official.


    1. The Designated Official in each building has the authority to evacuate the building and/or FHWA employees in emergency and life-threatening situations.

    2. The Designated Official shall contact the local Office of Security 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 local building services or property management office shall be contacted.

    3. The Washington Headquarters Designated Official is not authorized to release employees from work. This must be done in consultation with the DOT Assistant Secretary for Administration.

    4. The release of employees and closing of offices in field installations shall be coordinated as far as possible with the release of other DOT and Federal employees in the area. This is often accomplished through local Federal Executive Boards and Associations. Regional Administrators may exercise the authority which may be redelegated to Division Administrators. Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers also may exercise this authority with regard to employees in their area of responsibility. Motor Carriers field personnel will be released by the Regional Director of Motor Carriers in consultation with the Regional Administrator. (See FHWA Orders M 3000.1A, Part I, Chapter 8, Section 7, paragraph 4h(2) and M 1100.1, Part I, Chapter 4, Section 1, paragraph 3.)

    5. All Designated Officials shall contact the Office of Information and Management Services Safety Officer (HMS-20) after any emergency building evacuations or release of employees.

  10. EVACUATION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES. A major problem confronting the Occupant Emergency Organization is how tosafely evacuate persons with limited mobility such as persons with disabilities and others with medical conditions in emergency situations when elevators cannot be used. Specific procedures should be included in each building's/office's Occupant Emergency Plan for evacuating persons with disabilities quickly based on the guidelines referred to in the GSA Bulletin FPMR D-196 and any other pertinent criteria.

  11. TRAINING. The members of the Occupant Emergency Organization shall be trained and have knowledge of the plan and the hazards to which they may be exposed in order to be proficient at their assignments. The Designated Official is responsible for this training as indicated in paragraph 8a. The local fire department may also be available to provide assistance such as preparing a training plan and recommending training materials.

  12. DRILLS. Evacuation drills will be held at least once annually in each building to determine the effectiveness of the emergency procedures and to familiarize building occupants and wardens with them. The drills should be coordinated with the local fire department.

E. Dean Carlson
Executive Director





    1. The FHWA Warden Organization is an integral part of the DOT Headquarters Building (Nassif Building) Warden Organization. The FHWA Warden Organization is as follows:

        (1) FHWA Occupational Safety Officer is the FHWA Chief Warden for the areas occupied by FHWA.

        (2) Floor Wardens and alternates.

        (3) Sector Wardens and alternates.

        (4) Stair Wardens and alternates.

        (5) Elevator Wardens and alternates.

    2. Alternates assist principals in the performance of their duties and assume the duties and responsibilities of the principals in their absence.

    3. A typical detailed floor plan for the DOT Building, indicating the sectors, stairways, elevator lobbies, and directions for exit to the nearest stairway is shown on page 10. [SEE PRINTED COPY OF ORDER FOR A COPY OF THE DETAILED FLOOR PLAN]

    4. The DOT Headquarters Buildings Warden Organization is shown on page 11. [SEE PRINTED COPY OF ORDER FOR A COPY OF THE ORGANIZATION]


    1. Chief Warden, FHWA, is responsible for all actions directed by the Chief Building Warden of the DOT Headquarters. The Chief Warden, FHWA, position shall be held by the FHWA Occupational Safety Officer, Office of Information and Management Services (HMS-20).

        (1) Duties

          (a) Maintain the master list of Floor Warden Organization and distribute to all wardens and DOT Headquarters (M-46).

          (b) Obtain a list of persons with disabilities from M-46 or FHWA Personnel Operations Division, Classification and Staffing Branch (HPT-22) and distribute to Floor wardens and Sector wardens.

          (c) Participate in the development of building evacuation, emergency, and contingency plans for the warden organization.

          (d) Participate in the development and instruction of the warden organization training.

    2. Floor Warden and/or Deputy Floor Warden - Post during evacuation is not fixed (see below).

        (1) Duties

          (a) Obtain of Floor Warden Organization and be come acquainted with all wardens on his floor.

          (b) Obtain a list of persons with disabilities from Chief Warden or M-46 and distribute to Floor wardens and Sector wardens.

          (c) Participate in the warden organization training.

        (1) Duties in Specific Emergency

          (a) If building alarm code indicates the emergency is on his (her) assigned floor, he proceeds to the sector signaled.

            1 Determines exact location of the emergency.

            2 Ensure that Elevator and Stair Wardens are available and are informed to direct police or fire forces to the scene.

            3 Directs brisk, orderly evacuation of the sector, not only down stairs in the assigned sector, but toward stairs in adjacent sectors.

            4 When sector evacuation is complete, evacuates with Sector Wardens, ensuring stairwell doors are closed.

            5 Reassigns wardens on his floor as necessary.

          (b) If building alarm code indicates emergency is on another floor, proceeds initially to stairway/elevator area of nearest sector. After verifying that Sector Warden personnel are on duty and performing properly, proceeds in turn to each of the other sectors for the same purpose. After this inspection, evacuates by stairs to the first floor.

          (c) After evacuating to the first floor, Floor Warden takes a position in the plaza near the southwest elevator lobby.

          (d) When all Sector Wardens have reported completion of evacuation in their sectors, Floor Warden reports evacuation of floor to the Chief Building Warden.

          (e) After reporting, the Floor Warden Team stands by to assist as needed in stairway exit control and in moving building occupants to far side of streets.

        (2) Continuing Responsibilities of the Floor Warden is to:

          (a) designate specific Sector Warden to serve as backup Floor Warden;

          (b) maintain warden staff of the floor at full strength by ensuring that the organization responsible for a position replaces vacancies promptly;

          (c) keep the FHWA Chief Warden and the ChiefBuilding Warden advised of names, assignments, and telephone numbers of the Floor Warden's staff;

          (d) supervise and direct Sector Wardens in the conduct of their continuing responsibilities;

          (e) set specific boundaries of sectors on the floor, and communicate to Sector Wardens;

          (f) participate in planning and conducting tests and telephone alerts for the warden organization;

          (g) receive reports of fire, safety, and evacuation hazards concerning the floor and informs command center;

          (h) participate in the development of building evacuation, emergency, and contingency plans for the warden organization; and

          (i) keep Chief Building Warden and designated backup Floor Warden advised of any non-availability of any Floor Warden personnel for emergency duty of more than 1 hour.

    3. Sector Warden and/or Alternate - post during evacuation is not fixed, see below.

        (1) Duties in a Specific Emergency

          (a) Upon sounding of the alarm, proceeds to the stairway/elevator area of his assigned sector. Verifies that his Deputy, both Stair Wardens, and the Elevator Warden are on duty. If they are not, selects substitutes and briefs them on duties.

          (b) If building alarm code indicates that the emergency is in his floor and sector, he/she and Deputy determine exact location, evacuate the vicinity of the emergency first, and advise Elevator and Stair Wardens of location so emergency forces can be directed.

          (c) Directs evacuees in the sector to the nearest exits; if emergency is in the sector, evacuees are directed away from the emergency area to nearest stairways in other sectors.

          (d) Checks all offices, washrooms, conference rooms, and work areas in predetermined half of sector to see that occupants have evacuated.

          (e) After checking with Deputy, notifies both Stair Wardens and the Elevator Wardens that sector is evacuated and proceeds to evacuate to first floor.

          (f) Reports to Floor Warden on plaza nearsouthwest elevator lobby that sector is evacuated or locations where personnel refuse to evacuate.

          (g) Assists as needed in stairway exit control and in moving building occupants to far side of street.

        (2) Continuing Responsibilities of the Sector Warden are to:

          (a) be thoroughly familiar with primary and backup duties during evacuation;

          (b) be acquainted with sector boundaries as set by Floor Warden and with room layout of the sector for evacuation room-checking purposes;

          (c) assign Deputy Sector Warden a specific half of the sector for coverage during evacuation;

          (d) assign a specific stairwell to each Stair Warden for coverage during evacuation;

          (e) designate a specific Stair Warden as backup for the Deputy Sector Warden;

          (f) arrange in advance, insofar as practical, for substitute Stair and Elevator Wardens;

          (g) maintain a list of names, room numbers, and telephone numbers of Sector Warden personnel and substitutes; give duplicates to Deputy Sector Warden, Floor Warden, and Chief Building Warden;

          (h) identify, by name and location, persons with disabilities stationed in sector who must be evacuated by elevator and advise Elevator Warden;

          (i) participate in conducting tests for the Sector Warden organization;

          (j) request appointment of replacement warden personnel when vacancies occur;

          (k) issue and recover warden organization equipment as appointments are made and terminated;

          (l) receive reports of fire, safety, and evacuation hazards concerning the sector, andrefer them for correction to the Floor Warden or to the appropriate operating organization; and

          (m) keep Floor Warden and Deputy Sector Warden advised of non-availability of any sector warden personnel for emergency duty of more than 1 hour.

    4. Stair Warden and/or Alternate - Post: Door to assigned stairwell.

        (1) Duties in Specific Emergency

          (a) Upon sounding of alarm, proceeds to assigned stairway, opens door, and holds door open during evacuation.

          (b) Control the brisk and orderly movement of occupants into and within stairway area, seeing that they walk, but do not run and that no one attempts to carry large objects that could impede quick and orderly evacuation. Exercise calming influence. Stands ready to assist anyone falling. If advised that emergency is in that floor and sector, obtains priority use of stairs to speed evacuation.

          (c) When notified by Sector Warden or Deputy that sector is clear, close the door and evacuate down stairs to first floor level.

          (d) Assist as needed in stairway exit control and in moving building occupants to far side of street.

        (2) Continuing Responsibilities of the Stair Warden are to:

          (a) be thoroughly familiar with primary and backup duties during evacuation;

          (b) be alert for fire and report safety hazards and potential evacuation problems in thesector to the Sector Warden; and

          (c) keep Sector Warden advised of any non-availability for emergency duty of more than 1 hour.

    5. Elevator Warden and/or Alternate - Post: Assigned to elevator lobby.

        (1) Duties in a Specific Emergency

          (a) Upon sounding of alarm, proceed to assigned elevator lobby.

          (b) Assist persons with disabilities onto the first available elevator designated by the command center, and restricts elevator use by others. Only handicapped persons, warden personnel (when unavoidable), police and firemen may use elevators during the emergency.

          (c) If power loss or malfunction causes an occupied elevator to stop with doors closed at or near the floor:

            1 Sends a message by the first available volunteer to the Building Warden at the reception desk (first floor, southwest lobby) giving elevator number.

            2 Shouts through elevator doors that help is on the way to release them. Repeat this and other encouraging messages frequently until help arrives (as much as 20 to 30 minutes could elapse).

          (d) When advised by Sector Warden or Deputy that the sector is clear, evacuate downstairs to first floor level.

          (e) Assist as needed in stairway exit control and in moving building occupants to far side of street.

        (2) Continuing Responsibilities of the Elevator Warden are to:

          (a) be acquainted with persons with disabilities who work in the sector for purpose of locating and evacuating during emergency;

          (b) learn to operate switching to evacuate elevators and operate them during power loss emergency (applies only to second floor elevator warden personnel);

          (c) be thoroughly familiar with duties during evacuation;

          (d) be alert for fire and report safety hazards, and potential evacuation problems in the sector to the Sector Warden; and

          (e) keep Sector Warden advised of any non-availability for emergency duty of more than 1 hour.


    1. In the DOT Headquarters Building, the alarm is a series of blasts on a system of electrically energized horns. The sounding of this alarm is the signal for immediate evacuation of the building by all personnel except those having special warden or security assignments.

    2. Red fire alarm boxes are mounted on corridor walls at each stairway door and throughout the building. Above each alarm box is a large gray horn. Pulling an alarm box causes every alarm horn in the building to sound a coded series of blasts. The code will direct police and firemen to the location of the box which was pulled

    3. Personnel in elevators at the time of an alarm will get off at the first opportunity, go to the nearest stairway, descend to the ground floor and proceed to the opposite side of the street.

    4. All personnel shall follow the instructions of wardens, police, or fire officials, and shall be careful not to block access of emergency vehicles and personnel to the area.

    5. Only personnel combating the emergency may remain in the building after the alarm is sounded. If there are any employees who remain at their workplaces despite risk of life, their names and duty stations will be reported by responsible supervisors to the FHWA Occupational Safety Officer, Office of Information and Management Services, HMS-20, as soon as possible, and subsequent changes reported promptly. A list will be maintained to facilitate protection and rescue of such persons.


    1. In case of fire, bomb threat, or similar potential emergencies, CALL THE GUARD DESK, extension 62816 immediately. Give your name, the location and the exact nature of the emergency. The guards will respond to combat the emergency and will take action to notify the Metropolitan Police or Fire Department and othersas necessary, and will pull the alarm box to signal building evacuation if required. If it is clear that a fire is beyond control and spreading, the occupant should pull the fire alarm and alert the guards. The occupant should not try to fight the fire that is beyond control and spreading.

    2. Before help arrives, notify other occupants of the office and of nearby offices of the emergency, and move away from the threatened area to the nearest stairwell or a stairwell in another corridor.

    3. Do not attempt first aid for injuries, except to stop severe bleeding or to give CPR. Call the First-Aid Clinic on extension 60892. Only trained and certified personnel should give CPR.


    1. When the alarm sounds, either momentarily or continuously, responsible personnel will place classified material in proper safes/files and lock them securely, and will secure other papers and working documents and leave their offices without delay, closing doors behind them; go to the nearest stairway, descend to the ground floor and proceed to the opposite side of the street from the building.

    2. Personnel not having special assignments will take any personal belongings -- purses, coats, etc. -- that are not large enough to impede quick and orderly evacuation and leave the building via the nearest corridor and stairway, descend to the ground floor, and proceed to the opposite side of the street from the building.


    1. The Office of Personnel and Training shall maintain an up-to-date listing of employees with disabilities and shall forward a copy of the listing and revisions to the Operations and Service Division (HMS-20).

    2. The Operations and Services Division shall contact the Administrative Officers in the organizations to which employees with disabilities are assigned and arrange to have an aide and an alternate assigned to personally assist each physically handicapped employee during evacuation of the building. A current listing of the aides to the physically handicapped shall be kept on file in the Property and Services Branch (HMS-21), Operations and Services Division. Administrative Officers shall instruct designated aides regarding therole they are to perform during emergency evacuation of the building.

  6. RE-ENTRY OF BUILDING. When advised by proper authorities that the building or specified floors/areas are safe for occupancy, the Chief Building Warden will announce an "All Clear". The FHWA wardens will relay the message to evacuees to return to their offices.


    1. Immediately following the emergency, the Floor Wardens shall report to the FHWA Chief Warden, furnishing the following information to the extent applicable:

        (1) Date, time, and place of emergency.

        (2) Name, age, and address of each injured person. (If a fatality has occurred, give estimated time of death.)

        (3) Description of circumstances surrounding emergency.

        (4) Additional data related to emergency.

        (5) Protection control and rescue activities.

        (6) Probable cause of emergency.

        (7) Estimated amount of loss or damage to Government property on assigned floor.

        (8) Recommended remedial action.

    2. Supervisor of the area where an emergency occurred shall submit a report to FHWA Occupational Safety Officer, Office of Information and Management Services, HMS-20.
Page last modified on October 19, 2015
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000