Campus Life

Evacuation exercises to take place in campus buildings throughout 2017

Mandatory drills are part of University-wide building emergency evacuation program

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — To help Penn State community members prepare for a fire or other potential emergency situation, mandatory evacuation exercises will begin to take place in buildings across the University starting in 2017. The drills will be an annual event in approximately 85 buildings at University Park and 90 buildings across Penn State’s campuses that meet certain occupancy, hazard and emergency exit criteria. For the most part, the drills will begin in spring as the weather warms.

Faculty, staff and students who are working or attending class in a building at the time of a drill will not typically be notified in advance. However, they are expected to participate by immediately evacuating via the nearest exit when prompted by the building alarm. Building occupants should remain calm, gather at the designated meeting place, and re-enter the facility when given the all-clear from public safety officials.

The drills are a new component of the Building Emergency Evacuation Plan (BEEP) program that the University has been rolling out in phases throughout the past few years. The BEEP program is aimed at educating faculty, staff and students about the importance of preparing for an emergency, according to Stacy Givens, safety and environmental health specialist in Penn State’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS).

“The BEEP exercises, which are a collaboration among EHS, the Office of Emergency Management, and University Safety Council, will help us reach an even wider segment of the University and provide a safe opportunity for individuals to familiarize themselves with escape routes, practice an evacuation, and learn their responsibilities for assisting others,” Givens said.

Many campus buildings, including residence halls and child care centers, already routinely conduct evacuation exercises. The new BEEP program requirements will not require every campus building to host an exercise, but occupants of any building can voluntarily schedule a drill by contacting EHS.

Another recent enhancement to the BEEP program requires unit and campus safety contacts to review and update written evacuation plans for each building at least once a year. Doing so will ensure that the plans remain current and that personnel are assigned to carry out evacuation responsibilities. EHS has developed educational resources and self-review tools to assist with this effort.

“You never know when or where an emergency could happen, and our goal is to ensure the safety of every Penn State community member,” said Mark Linsenbigler, occupational health and safety manager in EHS. “The BEEP program is intended to support other University-wide safety plans and procedures by empowering faculty, staff, students, and campus safety personnel to work together to prepare for a potential emergency evacuation.”

If you have questions about emergency evacuation exercises, contact your safety officer or one of the safety monitors assigned to your building’s floor. To learn more about the BEEP program and other Penn State workplace safety initiatives, visit EHS online

Last Updated March 02, 2017