Doug Bedell — February 14, 2008, 11:52 am

Building Emergency Plans – and Drills – Shouldn’t Be Skipped

In a summation of “old news” that remains continually current, Today’s Facility Manager magazine provides a lengthy discussion of why so many occupants of the Word Trade Center site survived the 9/11 attacks.

Basically, expeditious evacuation of buildings at the Word Trade Center site was the result “of significant changes made by the Port Authority in response to the bombings at the Towers in 1993, ‘and by training of both Port Authority personnel and civilians after that time.'”

The Word Trade Center evacuation story is paramount evidence of the importance of “workaday” building design factors, like the width and availability of stairways, fail-safe lights in stairways and exemplary elevator design. Along with, of course, the training of employees working in high-rise (and other) buildings.

“Evacuation drills were held every six months, and each floor had fire wardens responsible for the organization of evacuation plans for their floor. These wardens played a crucial role on 9/11, as they literally pushed and pulled people out of the buildings and searched the floors to ensure that everyone had left.”

The comprehensive Facility Manager report is an excellent reminder of the importance of design and preparedness in safeguarding workaday buildings everywhere. Every building needs, at least, an emergency plan – and periodic drills to confirm its value.

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