Evacuation & Shelter-in-Place

Building Evacuation Guidelines — Fire

A fire evacuation will occur when smoke or fire is present inside a building. This type of evacuation may occur after the fire alarm system is automatically activated by a smoke or heat detector, or by activation of a sprinkler system. Building fire alarm activation may also occur when a manual pull station is activated by a person upon discovery of a fire.

When a fire is discovered or the fire alarm system is activated, all personnel must stop what they are doing and immediately evacuate the building. Upon exiting the building, all personnel should report to their designated assembly area.

  • Upon discovery of smoke or fire, activate a manual pull station and proceed to nearest exit (if fire alarm activation has not already occurred).
  • Everyone MUST exit the building.
  • Instructors need to make sure that their class know the evacuations procedures.
  • Leave your personal belongings if it means a delay getting out.
  • Do not use the elevator.
  • Immediately evacuate and proceed to your building Rally Point unless otherwise instructed.
  • While evacuating the building, provide assistance, as you deem reasonable, to other building occupants along your path of travel to your designated assembly area.
  • Direct building occupants to evacuate and proceed to Rally Point area.
  • Notify Owens Police Department of type and location of fire.
  • Ensure building occupants do not reenter the building until released by emergency responders.
  • Remain calm.
  • Follow instructions of the Building Emergency Liaisons or any emergency responders.
  • As you evacuate check closed doors for heat before opening.

After you have evacuated the building, do not return to the building until notified it is safe to do so by a member of the Public Safety Department.

Note: Just because the fire alarm is no longer sounding, you must stay outside of the building until an “All Clear” has been issued.

Building Evacuation Guidelines — General

A general building evacuation will be used when fire alarm system activation is discouraged or not needed, but evacuation of the building is required for safety purposes. A general building evacuation may be used for a bomb threat, suspicious package, hazardous materials incident, natural gas leak, utility disruption, power outage, building damage from severe weather, post-lockdown, or for any other reason requiring evacuation of the building.

  • The Department of Public Safety will make the determination if an evacuation is necessary and provide notification.
  • Proceed to designated assembly area (or as directed by emergency responders).
  • While evacuating the building provide assistance, as you deem reasonable, to other building occupants along your path of travel to your designated assembly area.
  • Direct building occupants to evacuate and proceed to closest designated assembly area (or as directed by emergency responders).
  • Make note of anything out of the ordinary while evacuating (suspicious objects, odors, and people).
  • Remain calm.
  • Do not return to the area until given the “all clear” by a member of the Department of Public Safety or in the event of a campus-wide evacuation, by the appropriate College official.


Prepare yourself in advance by knowing evacuation routes to exits. Exit maps are located in each campus building and online. Remember there is always more than one exit in all campus buildings to be used in the event one an exit is blocked or unsafe to use.

Evacuation Relocation

Evacuation relocation may be needed when further response to, recovery from, or investigation of an incident involving the building is necessary. Evacuation relocation will require the building occupants to relocate due to the need to remain outside of the building for an extended period of time. The building occupants will be relocated to a temporary shelter rally point. This may also require cancellation or postponement of classes and events to be held in the building.


What does it mean to Shelter-In-Place?

Shelter-in-place means to seek immediate shelter and remain there during an emergency rather than evacuate the area. Shelter-in-place will only be used when an evacuation is not safe, however, it should not be used during a fire situation.

There are three general scenarios where a shelter in place situation will occur:

  1. Sheltering oneself from severe weather conditions.
  2. Sealing oneself in a room to protect against a hazardous materials spill/release.
  3. Securing oneself in a room during a violent situation.

Shelter-in-Place Notification

A shelter-in-place notification may come from several sources: The Owens Alert System, The Department of Public Safety, outside severe weather sirens or the building public address system.


During certain emergency situations, particularly chemical releases, radioactive material releases and some weather emergencies, you may be advised to “Shelter in Place” rather than evacuate the building.

  • Go or stay inside the building.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • If possible, go to a room or corridor where there are no windows. In the event of a chemical release, go to an above-ground level of the building, since some chemicals are heavier than air and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
  • If possible, monitor for additional information via the main web page, or television for further instructions.
  • Do not call 911 unless you are reporting a life-threatening situation.

Severe Weather/Tornado

Hostile Individual/Active Shooter

If Advised:

  • Close all exterior doors and windows
  • Seal doors, windows, and vents with materials on hand; plastic sheets and duct tape is optimal if available.
  • Cover mouth and nose with handkerchief, cloth, paper towels or tissues.

Remain inside the location until an “all clear” message is received.