Chapter 32:
Emergency Action Plan and Fire Prevention Plan

Updated as of August 2006

California Employers are required to have emergency and fire prevention plans by Cal/OSHA. Many cities also regulate emergency and fire prevention plans. Insurers may impose additional requirements.

Emergency Action Plan

All California employers are required to have an Emergency Action Plan (8 CCR §3220). Those with more than 10 employees must maintain written plans. Smaller companies may communicate their plans orally. The plan must have the following elements:

  1. Emergency evacuation procedures and emergency evacuation route assignments;
  2. Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate;
  3. Procedures to account for all employees after emergency evacuation has been completed;
  4. Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them;
  5. The preferred means of reporting fires and other emergencies; and,
  6. Names or regular job titles of persons or departments who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan.

The Emergency Action Plan must have an alarm system which complies with Cal/OSHA standards and has different signals for each purpose for which it may be used, e.g., fire and earthquake.

The employer must select and train a sufficient number of employees to assist in safe and orderly emergency evacuation. Each employee must be informed of his/her responsibility when the plan is developed and whenever there is a change in the plan or the employee's responsibility. The Emergency Action Plan must be communicated to employees.

Fire Prevention Plan

All California employers are required to have a Fire Prevention Plan (8 CCR §3221). Those with more than 10 employees must maintain written plans. Smaller companies may communicate their plans orally. The plan must include the following:

  1. Identification of potential fire hazards and ignition sources and procedures for proper handling, storage and control. Identification of appropriate fire protection equipment or systems to control a fire involving them.
  2. Names or regular job titles of those responsible for maintenance of equipment and systems installed to prevent or control ignitions or fires.
  3. Names or regular job titles of those responsible for the control of accumulation of flammable or combustible waste materials.
  4. Written housekeeping procedures that include procedures for the control of accumulations of flammable and combustible waste materials and residues so that they do not contribute to a fire.
  5. Procedures to regularly and properly maintain equipment installed in the workplace to prevent accidental ignition of combustible materials.

The employer shall apprise employees of the fire hazards of the materials and processes to which they are exposed. The employer shall review with each employee upon initial assignment those parts of the fire prevention plan which the employee must know to protect the employee in the event of an emergency.

General Information


Emergency plans should contain instructions on procedures in different types of emergency situations, including earthquakes, fires, power failure, medical emergency, bomb threat, etc. Such procedures should clearly instruct employees on what to do.

Management should review plans with employees initially and whenever the plan or employees' responsibilities under it changes. Plans should be reevaluated and updated periodically. Emergency procedures, including the handling of any toxic chemicals, should include:

  • Escape procedures and routes, designated maps;
  • Special procedures for employees who perform or shut down critical plant operations;
  • A system of accounting for all employees after evacuation;
  • Rescue and medical duties for employees who perform them;
  • Means for reporting fires and other emergencies; and
  • Contacts for further information about the plan.

Chain of Command

An emergency response coordinator and a back-up coordinator should be designated. The coordinator may be responsible for plant-wide operations, public relations, and ensuring a safe evacuation if necessary. A back-up coordinator ensures that a trained person is always available. Duties of the coordinator include:

  • Determining whether an emergency requiring activation of emergency procedures exists;
  • Directing all emergency activities including evacuation of personnel;
  • Ensuring that outside emergency service such as medical aid and local fire departments are called when necessary; and
  • Directing the shutdown of plant operations when necessary.

Emergency Response Teams

Members of emergency response teams should be thoroughly trained for potential emergencies and physically capable of carrying out their duties, know about toxic hazards in the workplace and be able to judge when to evacuate personnel or depend on outside help (e.g., when a fire is too large for them to handle). Where appropriate one or more teams should be trained in:

  • Use of various types of fire extinguishers;
  • First aid, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR);
  • Shutdown procedures;
  • Chemical spill control procedures;
  • Use of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA); and
  • Search and emergency rescue procedures.

Response Activities

Effective emergency communication is vital. An alternate area for a communications center other than management offices should be established in the plans and the emergency response coordinator should operate from this center. Management should provide emergency alarms and ensure that employees know how to report emergencies. An updated list of key personnel and their off-duty telephone numbers should be maintained by the control center, emergency coordinator and key management.

A system should be established for accounting for personnel once workers have been evacuated with a person in the control center responsible for notifying police or emergency response team members of persons believed missing.Effective security procedures, such as cordoned off areas, can prevent unauthorized access and protect vital records and equipment. Duplicate records can be kept in off-site locations for essential accounting files, legal documents and lists of employees' relatives to be notified in case of emergency.

Personal Protection

Employees exposed to accidental chemical splashes, falling objects, flying particles, unknown atmospheres with inadequate oxygen or toxic gases, fires, live electrical wiring, or similar emergencies need personal protective equipment including:

  • Safety glasses, goggles, or face shield for eye protection;
  • Hard hats and safety shoes;
  • Properly selected and fitted respirators;
  • Whole body coverings, gloves, hood, and boots; and
  • Body protection for abnormal environmental conditions such as extreme temperatures.

Emergency Communication Plan

If a disaster occurs when some or all employees are away from the workplace, employers will want to have a communication system in place to keep employees informed of closures and other pertinent information.

Possible procedures may include leaving emergency information on the voice mail system and instructing employees to check their messages in case of emergency, setting up a phone tree, or instructing employees to listen to the radio for closure announcements.


Every employee needs to know details of the emergency action plan, including evacuation plans, alarm systems, reporting procedures for personnel, shutdown procedures and types of potential emergencies.

Drills should be held at random intervals, at least annually. If possible, they should include outside police and fire authorities.Procedures should clearly instruct employees on what to do in an emergency situation. For example, in an earthquake:

  • Get under a desk or solid object and cover your head with your hands and arms. If there is no solid object nearby, sit next to an interior wall or in a hallway;
  • Get away from windows, exterior walls and any objects (lights, bookcases, etc.) which may fall on you;
  • Remain calm. Stay where you are until the quake stops; and
  • Do not go outside. You are usually safer inside.
  • NOTE: Avoid standing in doorways as doors may slam, injuring employees.

After the earthquake:

  • Be very cautious before moving around. Aftershocks are common after earthquakes and damaged objects could fall and injure you;
  • Notify the proper authorities if anyone has been injured;
  • Only use the telephone for genuine emergencies;
  • Listen to an emergency radio station for immediate information; and
  • Follow directions of the employee responsible for emergency safety procedures.

Have Emergency Supplies Available

Have sufficient emergency supplies on hand for all employees. Supplies should be located in each distinct area (e.g., on each floor) of the workplace. Inform employees about the location of the supplies. Such supplies should include:

  • Flashlights;
  • Portable, battery operated radios;
  • Fire extinguisher;
  • First aid supplies including first aid book;
  • Bottled water; and
  • Canned or dried food and can opener. The food and water should be rotated on a regular basis.

Medical Assistance

Employers not near an infirmary, clinic or hospital should have someone on-site trained in first aid, have medical personnel readily available for advice and consultation, and develop written emergency medical procedures.

First aid supplies for the trained person to use, emergency phone numbers in conspicuous places near or on telephones, and prearranged ambulance services for an emergency should be available.

Fire Prevention Plan

The Fire Prevention Plan must include:

  • Minimum of two backup personnel outside any hazardous area during an emergency response;
  • Identification of potential fire hazards and their proper handling and storage procedures. Contact the local fire department for on-site training;
  • Identification of potential ignition sources, their control procedures and type of fire protection equipment or systems which can control a fire involving them;
  • Names and job titles of persons responsible for maintenance of fire prevention and control equipment systems;
  • Names and job titles of persons responsible for control and accumulation of flammable or combustible waste materials; and
  • Coordination of your emergency response plan with the local fire department.

Emergency response to hazardous substance releases is available by contacting the Regional Fire and Health HAZMAT Department in your area.

Be Proactive

  • Check all offices, storage areas, manufacturing areas and other work locations for possible safety and fire hazards;
  • Brace or anchor high or top heavy shelves, machinery or any other equipment which could fall during a tremor;
  • Bolt down or provide other strong support for water heaters and other appliances on the premises since fire damage could result from broken lines and connections;
  • Consider all possibilities should destruction occur. What if those on upper floors cannot descend to the ground floor? What if employees are trapped in the basement?
  • Plan assistance for physically handicapped employees who are unable to leave the building or areas of the building without the aid of another person;
  • Designate areas of the firm which may be suitable as shelter areas should employees be required to stay there after the quake.

If you discover a fire:


  1. MOST IMPORTANTLY CALL: THE FIRE DEPARTMENT from a safe location. Dial 9-1-1 or local fire department.
  2. 2. Activate the manual pull station to sound the fire alarm.
  3. 3. CLEAR anyone in immediate danger. If the fire is in an occupied room, remove anyone from immediate danger.
  4. 4. CONFINE the fire by closing all doors in the area.

Give the fire department the following information:

Building Name: _____________________________________________________

Remember the 3 C's: CLEAR, CONFINE & CALL

Building Address:____________________________________________________Nearest Cross Street:____________________________________________________Floor / Suite Number : ____________________________________________________Nature of the Emergency: ____________________________________________________Your call back number: ____________________________________________________Note: DO NOT HANG UP UNTIL THE EMERGENCY OPERATOR TELLS YOU TO DO SO.Also notify Security.Use a fire extinguisher if safe to do so and if you are trained to do so. NEVER attempt to put out a fire alone. Be sure to use the right type of extinguisher.Begin evacuating your floor. Direct all occupants to the closest safe emergency exit.In multi-storied buildings, use safe stairwell procedures to proceed to a safe refuge floor/area. Occupants on upper floors will walk down a minimum of five floors to the next available reentry floor. Occupants on lower floors will evacuate the building and proceed to a designated Safe Refuge Area.When an alarm sounds :

  1. 1. Feel the door to see if it is hot. If not hot, open cautiously. Stand behind the door, be prepared to close it quickly.
  2. 2. If there is no smoke present, proceed to your Emergency Exit door or Stairwell Exit. Wait there for further instructions. If there are ADVERSE CONDITIONS immediately evacuate the floor and proceed to your designated reentry floor or outside safe refuge area.
  3. 3. If you do encounter smoke, crawl on your hands and knees along the wall to your Emergency Exit. Evacuate and proceed to a safe refuge floor/area.
  4. 4. Follow instructions from Emergency Personnel.
  6. If a door is hot:
  7. 1. DO NOT OPEN IT. Use alternate door if safe.
  8. 2. If no alternate door, call Fire Department. Give exact location and all known facts. Also, notify Security.
  9. Fire Department phone number: _______________________
  10. Security phone number: _______________________
  11. 3. Seal the bottom of the door with cloth material to keep out smoke.
  12. 4. If water is available, wet cloths and seal the door and any vents.
  13. 5. Retreat. Close as many doors between you and the fire as possible
  14. 6. Signal at the window, if available, waving a bright colored material.
  15. 7. If the window can be opened (and the fire is not in the room) open window slightly. If smoke enters the room, close the window immediately. DO NOT JUMP. Jumping from windows above the third floor can cause fatal injuries
  16. 8. If there is smoke in the room:
  17. Stay low - air is cooler and cleaner closer to the floor.
  18. Hold a wet cloth over your mouth and nose.
  19. Do not break a window - once broken it cannot be closed. If there is smoke outside the window, the smoke may enter the room you are in. Breaking a window should only be done as a last resort.
  20. 9. Remain calm. Help is on the way.


The following information should be distributed to all occupants who are physically impaired.


  1. Prior to an emergency select two assistants to assist you in an emergency. Meet with the assistants to discuss your special needs in case of an emergency. Be sure to tell them how best to assist you. Remember you are the expert on your own personal condition.

  2. Decide on a meeting spot. For example, at your desk or at a designated stairwell.

  3. If applicable, have assistants be familiar with various lifts and carries.

  1. Upon hearing the fire alarm meet with your assistants.
  2. Proceed to the nearest safe exit or stairwell.
  3. Be sure to close the door behind you. If you are in a stairwell and cannot proceed down the stairs, one assistant should notify Building Staff or Fire Department Personnel of your location. For example: on the 6th floor in Stairwell #2. The other assistant will remain in the stairwell with you.
  4. Remain calm. Help is on the way. The Fire Department's first priority is the rescuing of people.

Listed below are some things that you can do for yourself if you are alone during an emergency:

  1. Proceed to the stairwell. Instruct all others who are exiting to tell the Fire Department what floor and which stairwell you are in.
  2. Be prepared to ask for assistance. Tell them what your condition is and be prepared to give instructions on how you can best be helped.


  2. Close as many doors as possible between you and the fire.
  3. Immediately call the Fire Department at 9-1-1 with the following information:
    1. Tell them you cannot get out;
    2. Tell them you are physically impaired and in what way;
    3. Give them your address and suite number;
    4. Give them the nearest cross street; and
    5. Give them the number you are calling from: ______________________________

This is important because the Fire Department may have to call you back to get additional information.

Stay where you are. Do not hide. Help is on the way.



FLOOR / SUITE #: ____________________________________________________________________

DATE: ______________________________________________________________________________

TENANT NAME*: ____________________________________________________________________

SUITE / FLOOR WARDEN: ____________________________________________________________

OCCUPANT: ________________________________________________________________________

NATURE OF DISABILITY: ____________________________________________________________


LOCATION (SUITE/ROOM #) PHONE: __________________________________________________

ASSISTANT PHONE: ________________________________________________________________

ASSISTANT PHONE: ________________________________________________________________

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