Developing a smart approach to evacuating buildings


To the Editor:

The recent horrendous actions by lone perpetrators in various venues shows us we are no longer safe in all our daily routines in either our business or entertainment pursuits. Safe exiting from a serious hazardous incident in a public-occupied building requires all occupants to be informed on the prescribed means for self-preservation.
The main reasons the codes were developed were to allow occupants time to evacuate a structure fire. The risk of a serious structure fire has declined significantly according to NFPA statistics. There has been a 50 percent reduction in structure fires and occupant deaths since 1980. This has created a general complacency on occupants acquiring the secondary means to achieve a life-safety exit from a hazardous incident within a public-occupied building.
Fire is not the only hazardous incident that may require us to formulate a smart response to safely evacuate a public building. There are others such as:
-Loss of power at night causing a blackout
-Carbon monoxide release
-Smoke from a prank incident
-Planned terrorist attack.
-Gunfire from a deviant behavioral perpetrator
First, I recommend expanded evacuation or lockdown drills for all office building employees, manufacturing plants, medical facilities and others that require long-term occupancy on a daily basis. The same as the regulations that are required for all educational facilities.
Second, expand public announcements of emergency exits (similar to airports in their required announcements of leaving bags unattended) to include large indoor sports and entertainment centers, shopping malls and other large public-occupied buildings.
When informed, we can choose the means most appropriate for our needs and not have all attempt to return to the known means of entrance, our comfort zone, causing a fatal crush similar to the Station Nightclub fire.

Bob Sweeney

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