Lockdown Plans Require Approval of the Fire Official
Many educational, mercantile, and business occupancy have established lockdown plans to address situations such as active shooters, police situations in the vicinity of the occupancy, an unwelcome individual on the property, etc. Ideally, the responsible parties (owners, managers, principals, directors, etc.) should develop these plans in conjunction with local police, fire, and EMS departments, but this is not always the case.
What is required by the International Fire Code is that lockdown plans must be approved by the fire official having jurisdiction where the occupancy is located. Most responsible parties of occupancies that develop lockdown plans are not aware of this requirement, and many fire officials may not be aware of it, either.
What is a lockdown?
The Fire Prevention Code defines “lockdown” as, “An emergency situation, in other than a Group I-3 occupancy (i.e., Detention Center, Jail, Pre-release Center, Prison), requiring that the occupants be sheltered and secured in place within a building when normal evacuation would put occupants at risk.”
It is important to understand that lockdown plans are intended to supplement approved fire safety and evacuation plans. Lockdown plans are not stand alone to protect occupants in place of building evacuation where appropriate.
IFC Requirements for Lockdown Plans
The 2012 Edition of the International Fire Code (IFC) is the code adopted by the State of Tennessee. The following section is quoted from the 2012 Edition of the International Fire Code and addresses lockdown plans.
SECTION 404 – FIRE SAFETY AND EVACUATION PLANS
Fire safety, evacuation and lockdown plans and associated drills shall comply with the requirements of Sections 404.2 through 404.5.1.
404.3.3 Lockdown plans.
Where facilities develop a lockdown plan, the lockdown plan shall be in accordance with Sections 404.3.3.1 through 404.3.3.3.
404.3.3.1 Lockdown plan contents.
Lockdown plans shall be approved by the fire code official and shall include the following:
- Initiation. The plan shall include instructions for reporting an emergency that requires a lockdown.
- Accountability. The plan shall include accountability procedures for staff to report the presence or absence of occupants.
- Recall. The plan shall include a prearranged signal for returning to normal activity.
- Communication and coordination. The plan shall include an approved means of two-way communication between a central location and each secured area.
404.3.3.2 Training frequency.
The training frequency shall be included in the lockdown plan. The lockdown drills shall not substitute for any of the fire and evacuation drills required in Section 405.2.
404.3.3.3 Lockdown notification.
The method of notifying building occupants of a lockdown shall be included in the plan. The method of notification shall be separate and distinct from the fire alarm signal.