Evacuation Procedures and Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPS)

The University has a duty to ensure that every building, office, store or other site has sufficient exits to ensure the safe evacuation of all occupants in case of fire or other emergency. The management of the evacuation plays an important role in ensuring that everyone reacts swiftly to an alarm or fire and uses all exits available.

Written procedures must be provided to help ensure the safe evacuation of all occupants in case of fire. In simple premises this may be no more than the general fire procedure notice, but as the premises become more complex, the procedures may need to be more detailed. These procedures should be recorded in a fire strategy document.

The evacuation procedures will be found in the fire action notices adjacent to every fire alarm break-glass call point and normally have the following details.


  1. immediately sound the alarm by operating the nearest fire alarm call point
  2. call the fire brigade
  3. attack the fire with the appliances provided, without taking personal risks, otherwise leave immediately and report to the assembly point


  1. leave the building immediately
  2. do not stop to collect personal belongings
  3. close all doors as you leave
  4. use the nearest available exit
  5. do not use lifts (except evacuation lifts for disabled people unable to use the stairs)
  6. proceed to the assembly point
  7. ensure the fire brigade has been called to every fire or suspicion of fire
  8. do not re-enter the building until authorised to do so

The fire and rescue service will want to know if there is anybody left in the building when they arrive to fight a fire. However, in many of our properties there isn’t a way of recording who is in or out of the building; in this case a sweep of the building will show which areas are clear. Sufficient fire wardens should be appointed to carry out this function; this would be a combination of volunteer staff and/or facilities management in teaching, research, office, public buildings and embedded spaces.

The fire wardens should report which areas they have checked to the fire coordinator at the assembly point. The fire coordinator should have a method of recording which areas have been checked.

A plan of the premises showing who is responsible for each section and a corresponding list, colour coded if necessary, is a good way of verifying which areas have been checked.


Plan showing search zones with corresponding colour coded list




It should be noted that Security Services have no management responsibilities for University buildings out-of-hours, apart from calling the fire and rescue service and providing a key-holder response.  

As a condition of allowing out-of-hours access, when staff or facilities management are not on duty, occupants must be briefed on how to respond to a fire or evacuation signal and communicate with the fire service and security services.  

If an out-of-hours event is held, particularly when visitors are present, sufficient staff should be kept on duty to manage an evacuation. 

Lone working out-of-hours should be in accordance with the lone working policy. 

The Responsible Person must ensure that all staff are made aware of the following upon starting their employment and at regular intervals thereafter:

  • the evacuation procedures

  • the exit routes and assembly point

  • the sound of the fire alarm system

  • their responsibilities towards visitors and disabled persons


The emergency evacuation procedures should be explained to new members of staff and existing staff starting in a new location immediately after they start, and a copy of the procedures should be given to them to reinforce their importance.

New staff should be physically shown around the premises, on their first day, to enable them to familiarise themselves with the location of the assembly point and the exit routes, particularly those that are not in general use,.

The sound of the fire alarm should be explained to them and if their working hours fall outside the time of the weekly test, a special test should be performed specifically for them (ensuring that the remainder of the occupants know what is happening).

Staff members may be required to help disabled visitors or staff in case of an emergency evacuation and their roles and responsibilities should be explained to them.

Sufficient staff must be trained in the evacuation procedures to ensure the safety of visitors, contractors and any other persons who may resort to the premises.


The number of staff required to sweep a building in case of an emergency evacuation will depend on the size and complexity of the building. A simple one room building may be checked by one person looking around from the exit door, whilst a multi-storey building may require a person per floor or every other floor if there is a single staircase. Larger buildings may require one or more fire wardens for every wing. A fire drill when the building is occupied is the best way of determining the correct level of supervision. 

The Responsible Person must ensure that a procedure is in place to enable people who cannot respond to the fire alarm or make their own unaided way to safety can be evacuated safely in case of fire or other emergency.


Fire Authorities have changed the thinking on ‘refuges’ as an acceptable alternative to evacuation, owing to the changes in fire safety law in 2006. All occupants should be able to get to a place of safety outside the building, wherever this is possible and practicable to do so. Individuals can wait in a ‘refuge’ with someone to assist, until such time as the escape route can be used safely and without risk. 

A refuge is an area protected from fire, usually next to an escape staircase or evacuation lift. This is provided to give someone who cannot manage the stairs time and space to transfer into an evacuation chair. This can then be used by trained staff to help the person down the stairs. 'Ibex' chairs are used to ascend stairs from a basement, and for descending stairs with winders, where a standard evacuation chair cannot be used. 

Many of our buildings are provided with evacuation lifts, with adjacent disabled refuges. These lifts are protected by fire-resisting construction, have dual power supplies and are designed to continue working when a fire occurs. Like other lifts, they will automatically descend to the ground floor when the fire alarm is activated. They will remain there until the fire alarm is reset or switched over to evacuation mode by a member of the building management team. In evacuation mode, the lift is controlled from within the car and will not respond to any landing requests.

The person who needs evacuating by lift will have completed a PEEP which should detail what actions must be taken when the fire alarm is activated. They will make their way to the lift refuge, where the yellow break glass or voice communication system will be activated to let the building management team know they require evacuation by lift.

The building management team will respond to the request by acknowledgement, either by activating the reassurance light above the yellow break glass unit or using the voice communication system. They will then switch the lift to evacuation mode and take it to the level required. If there is more than one request, the floor at the level of the fire will be evacuated first, followed by the floor above and then other floors as required.


A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) should be used to document how people will be evacuated when they have difficulty responding to a fire alarm or escaping unaided, in the event of an emergency. 

The PEEP should ideally be drafted by the building or facilities manager, with the involvement of a staff member’s line manager, or other suitable persons for students and visitors (such as administrators, librarians, disability coordinators (for students) who have responsibilities for areas to be regularly used). Consent must be obtained from the person needing assistance, and possibly their helper/s, to ensure the plan has been properly communicated. On completion the drafter should date and sign the form.

PEEPs must be regularly reviewed in case of possible changes in the person’s circumstances, areas of the building being visited, availability/training of helpers, and the general working environment.

Each PEEP must be specific to the individual, their needs and the buildings in which they use. It must consider the following points:

  • the individual: what is the issue and how can they be helped?
  • how will they get to a place of safety (the building assembly point)?
  • what do we need to do in terms of equipment or procedures to help them?
  • do they need help to aid their evacuation?
  • do they agree with the plan?
  • has it been properly communicated to all involved with the plan?

Examples of how we can help include the use of 'buddies' for visually or hearing impaired people and the use of evacuation chairs and evacuation lifts for those with mobility issues who may not be able to use the stairs. The plan can be as simple as moving the person to another location to make sure they can exit the building without having to negotiate stairs.

  • Where an evacuation chair is proposed the individual must approve its use and all helpers must have received training
  • The number of helpers appointed should depend on the individual’s circumstances
  • Contingencies for annual leave, sickness etc must also be taken into account
  • The chair must be maintained and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions


It's difficult to plan effectively for disabled visitors when it's not known in advance what support they may need in the event of an emergency. However where normal procedures cannot cater for a particular situation, additional provision should be made to ensure that in case of fire everyone can safely escape. This may entail ensuring sufficient staff are available to help people who do not have full mobility or sweeping the premises to ensure everyone who cannot hear or respond to a fire alarm are safely evacuated. 

Visitors should be encouraged to make staff aware that they may need support in the event of an emergency. A mention on the website, and a sign at reception should be considered.