Fire Evacuation Drill Requirements - New Requirements Starting FY2018
For schools that are fully protected by automatic fire sprinklers, five fire evacuation drills are required during the school year, two of which must be conducted during the first four months of school. For schools that are not fully protected by automatic fire sprinklers, eight fire evacuation drills are required, with at least three during the first four months of school. Fire drills are not required for non-school facilities.
The following schools are not fully sprinklered and are required to conduct eight fire evacuation drills annually:
The Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office does not allow emergency lockdown drills or directed evacuation drills to count as fire evacuation drills. The fire marshal recommends that fire evacuation drills take place at varying times of the school day; e.g., different class periods, during recess, or during lunch periods. Required fire drills must be conducted while school is in session.
Schools must maintain a log of completed fire evacuation drills to meet fire code regulations. The fire evacuation drill log must be maintained in the main office in the Fire Code Compliancy Binder (see MCPS Regulation EBA-RA, Fire Safety). Fire marshal staff review the log when conducting fire code compliance inspections. Division of Maintenance and Operations supervisors and Department of Systemwide Safety and Emergency Management cluster security coordinators also check these logs periodically to ensure compliance. Schools should contact their cluster security coordinator if they have questions about fire drill requirements.
Without exception or delay, all unscheduled activations of fire alarm systems in schools/facilities must be reported immediately to the PSCC. Dial 911 and evacuate the building. If it is determined that a false alarm has occurred and the fire apparatus has not yet arrived, call 911 to report the false alarm. PSCC personnel will determine if the alarm may be cancelled and if the building may be reoccupied prior to the arrival of fire personnel. Only the fire department has the authority to allow a building to be reoccupied once a fire alarm has been activated. Only by authority of the fire department may an unscheduled activated alarm be reset or silenced.
It is a violation of the Montgomery County Fire Safety Code, Section 22-75, to fail to call 911 and evacuate the building when a fire alarm is activated. Failure to follow the fire safety code can, and has, resulted in the issuance of a $1,000 civil citation to the administrator of the school/building.
Fire Watch Information
A fire watch is started when a building’s fire alarm system is malfunctioning or is not functioning at all. When establishing a fire watch, schools must notify the following personnel:
An administrator must assign staff members to the fire watch team. The number of staff members assigned to the team is based on the size of the building, activities that are taking place in the building, and any specific circumstances regarding the fire alarm system. The average elementary school requires three to four staff members, middle school requires four to six staff members, and high school requires six to eight staff members. This number should be increased to facilitate notification if an evacuation is necessary and the public address (PA) system is not functioning. If a sufficient number of staff members is not available for the fire watch team or if you anticipate that the fire alarm system will be out of service for four or more hours, call the Division of Maintenance and Operations at 240-314-1075 so that arrangements can be made to send additional personnel for the fire watch team.
Each fire watch team member should be assigned a two-way radio for communication purposes. Also, if a fire watch is established for after-school/work activities, the administrator should ensure that all fire watch team members have access to a phone in the event that they need to call 911 to report a fire emergency.
Staff, students, and other building occupants must be informed that a fire watch is in place until further notice (an announcement over the PA system). Members of the fire watch team must continuously walk interior hallways and around the exterior of the relocatable classrooms. Team members should observe the following guidelines:
In the event that community-use activities will take place in the building during a fire watch, the Interagency Coordinating Board for the Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF) office will be responsible for:
The Montgomery County Fire Marshal may modify the parameters of the fire watch depending on the circumstances. Also, Montgomery County fire code regulations require that a fire watch log be completed and maintained during a fire watch. It is recommended that the log be kept in the main office and that the administrator designates an office staff member to maintain the log. Fire watch team members should call into the school’s main office via two-way radio to give their reports every 30 minutes, and the reports must be recorded on the log as soon as received, noting the area checked, time checked, and the name of the fire watch team member who is giving the report.
Questions may be directed to Peter Park, Team Leader, Systemwide Safety Programs, Office of Systemwide Safety and Emergency Management, at 240-740-7710 or via e-mail.
Unrestricted use of heat-producing appliances in classrooms and instructional and/or support rooms is prohibited within all schools. Restrictions on appliance use reduce the risk of injuries and property damage. Heat-producing appliances include the following:
MCPS limits the use of heat-producing appliances in school buildings, including classrooms and instructional and/or support rooms. The use of certain appliances (microwave ovens, toaster ovens, coffee machines, electric hot plates, and refrigerators) is limited to the following locations within schools:
Space heaters and dehumidifiers are permitted if approved by the Division of Maintenance and Operations or the Indoor Air Quality Unit, Division of Sustainability and Compliance.
Appliances such as refrigerators and microwaves used for day-care groups, kindergarten, or child development programs to keep liquids refrigerated and then heated to a desired temperature (e.g., formula and/or milk for infants) are permitted in specific day-care rooms, kindergarten classrooms, and child development rooms. This exception includes any other appliances necessary to meet medical needs of students and staff.
Where appliances are permitted, they must be installed and operated in accordance with manufacturer recommendations and all applicable safety procedures.
Questions regarding this information may be directed to Peter Park, Team Leader, Systemwide Safety Programs, Office of Systemwide Safety and Emergency Management, at 240-740-7710 or via e-mail.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% ethanol or at least 70% isopropanol) may be used by MCPS students and staff to sanitize hands that are not visibly dirty or greasy when handwashing with soap and water is not feasible. MCPS schools and facilities must ensure hand sanitizer is not misused and must also comply with fire safety requirements related to alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Requirements include:
Keep hand sanitizer in the manufacturers’ containers. Do not transfer it to unlabeled bottles or other containers because people might not know what it is and some containers, which are not designed to hold hand sanitizer, can leak. For your safety and to ensure effectiveness, do not try to make your own hand sanitizer and never mix different hand sanitizers together. This can result in a mixture that does not kill germs effectively or is hazardous.
Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer
In order to effectively kill germs, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% ethanol or at least 70% isopropanol.
You should wash your hands with soap and water, rather than using hand sanitizer alone, at certain times:
All MCPS schools are equipped with portable fire extinguishers (PFEs). PFEs should only be used by trained personnel. Additionally, MCPS discourages employees from attempting to fight fires. If a fire is observed or suspected in a building, all occupants must evacuate immediately and call 911. The county or state requires PFEs in the following locations:
PFEs are not authorized for locations, other than those listed above, in MCPS schools.
Annual inspections are conducted by a contractor; monthly inspections are the school’s responsibility. Building services should:
A school housing an academic program running from 1 day to 30 days in length is required to conduct a minimum of one fire evacuation drill. This drill must be reported and logged in the fire drill log. At the end of the summer, this log must be faxed (240-777-2465) or mailed to the fire marshal’s office. Please note: fire drill logs no longer need to be forwarded to the Fire Marshal's Office.
A school housing an academic program running from 31 days to 60 days in length is required to conduct a minimum of two fire evacuation drills. At least one evacuation drill must be conducted in the first 30 days, and the second fire evacuation drill must be conducted in the next 30 days. These fire evacuation drills must be logged and reported as described above.
Schools that are assigned two separate summer school sessions must conduct at least one fire evacuation drill for each session. The fire evacuation drills must be logged and reported as described above.
Questions may be directed to the Office of Systemwide Safety and Emergency Management, at 240-740-3066.
It is the responsibility of each facility’s principal/administrator to ensure daily inspection of the fire alarm control panel, as well as all exits, to ensure their safe operation and clear means of egress. Specific fire safety questions/concerns should be referred to Peter Park, Team Leader, Systemwide Safety Programs, Office of Systemwide Safety and Emergency Management, at 240-740-7710 or via e-mail.
Open fires and flames (such as bonfires, grilling or smoking food, candles, torches) are prohibited at MCPS facilities, with the exceptions of routine food preparation, science, and maintenance activities and charcoal grilling that is specifically granted on an individual basis as part of an Adopt-A-Field agreement. See MCPS Regulation EBA-RA, Fire Safety.