How to Brief First Responders

  April 14, 2014

In a fire emergency or other emergency where first responders will be arriving on the scene at your facility, there is a list of information they are going to need to know in order to best address the situation. A good place to start is having a conversation with the agencies that would normally respond to an emergency at your facility and ask them what you should be able to tell them or provide for them as soon as they walk in the door.

Here are some suggestions from Jeff Ellis, security manager at the Pyramid Center and chair of the BOMA San Francisco emergency preparedness committee, on the likely items first responders will want to know, starting with the exact location of the emergency and what kind of alarm triggered the response.

They will want to know details about the facility in which the emergency is occurring, including how many stairwells there are, their location, and whether floors are connected by interior stairs. They will also want to know whether the elevators have been recalled, the location of the standpipes and their inlet and outlet connections, the inlet connections for the auxiliary sprinklers, and the location of the fire pump. Having the stairwell keys and elevators keys at hand will be important, as well as knowing where the utility shutoffs are located.

First responders will also immediately want to know the status of the occupants, including their current location and what information they have been given regarding the emergency. Knowing if there are occupants requiring assistance in evacuating the building and their current location will also be important information to have at hand.

Clearly, an emergency is not the time to sit down and figure out how the HVAC system is programmed to work during a fire nor it is time to walk first responders step-by-step through a system. Having conversations with first responders well ahead of any potential emergency allows facility managers to learn what information first responders will need and what would be the best method to communicate all that information in the moment of emergency as efficiently as possible.


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