Fire Evacuation Plan

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St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Ridgway, Illinois. Hit February 29, 2012


On average, the State of Oklahoma sees approximately 55 tornadoes a year. While there are months of the year where tornadoes are more likely than others, a tornado can occur any time of day on any day of the week if conditions are right. It is important for Oklahomans to plan ahead for such disasters; including those times they may be occupying your facility. The key to an effective tornado response plan for your place of worship is a) having an effective way to receive timely weather and warning information and b) having an organized approach to sheltering in place the occupants of a facility when the facility faces immediate threat of a tornado event.

While every facility’s needs will be different depending on location, size, etc…, an effective tornado plan should include at a minimum the following components:

  • HAVING a plan to act

  • Identifying HOW you are going to receive weather information

  • Knowing WHAT you will do if there is a severe weather risk (sheltering, evacuation, cancelation etc…)

  • Knowing HOW/WHEN you will call an “all clear” or release individuals from the shelter location

  • Knowing WHAT you will do if your facility is hit

The responsibility of the (Place of Worship) leadership is to (attempt to) control what is happening within the context of the leadership’s ability and respond accordingly.

The objectives are to protect the people in the facility and to minimize loss by pre-planning and practicing for a tornado event.

St. Mary’s Roman Cathloic Church, Joplin MO. Hit May 22, 2011

Facility Information

This plan was developed specifically for the facility located at (Address / City / State).

The facility’s footprint is approximately (_________) square feet and was built in (____).
The maximum capacity of the facility is (_____) individuals.
The current (House of Worship) membership is approximately (_____) individuals.

Facility Usage

Worship Service / Day Care / Other

Day of the Week / Time

Average Attendance

Day Care

Week Days / 7:30 AM – 5:30PM


Sunday School

Sunday / 10:00AM


Sunday Morning Worship Service

Sunday / 11:00AM


The designated Shelter In Place locations are:


Maximum # of Occupants

Plan Implementation

  1. When tornado danger is imminent (a warning has been issued or a tornado has been sighted), everyone within the facility should be notified in a calm manner and provided with clear directions regarding the actions that should be taken. Members will look to leadership & staff for guidance.


    1. The (Leadership Position) has the primary responsibility of notifying everyone in the facility in the event of a tornado.

    2. All individuals within the facility are directed to seek shelter in a pre-identified safe area and to meet at pre-identified rally points after the danger has passed.

    3. It may be necessary to help the elderly and persons with mobility needs

  1. During a shelter in place emergency, it will be important to ensure that everyone is relocated in a rapid but safe manner.


    1. Assist elderly and persons with mobility needs move to safety.

    2. Conduct a room to room search to ensure everyone has moved to a safe location.

  1. Day care staff will be responsible for escorting children to a pre-identified safe spot, but may need assistance with young children.


    1. Take day care sign-in sheet.

    2. Once the relocation has been completed, verify all children are accounted for based on the day care sign-in sheet.

    3. Notify (Leadership Position) if any child is missing.

  1. If emergency responders are needed during or after the event, a designated person should call 9-1-1 and notify the call taker of the type of emergency, location (physical address and location inside the facility) of the emergency and directions to the emergency.

**Note, if a tornado has occurred, access to emergency services may be delayed.**

  1. Meet with emergency response officials when they arrive.


    1. (Leadership Position) will meet with emergency response officials upon their arrival at the facility and provided the following information:

      1. What has happened and type of emergency.

      2. Location of event.

      3. Actions taken prior to responders arrival

      4. Any known missing persons and potential location of the missing persons.

      5. Floor plan of facility, pointing out key locations such as kitchen, electrical room, etc.

Communications Plan

A list of mobile phone numbers for key leadership positions is maintained as part of the Leadership Team Phone Tree (See Attachment # 1).
It is important to remember that in the aftermath of a tornado, mobile/cellular telephone services may be impacted; therefore it is important to have several accessible land line telephones in the facility; especially one in or near the designated shelter-in-place area for communications during and after the event. Alternative methods of communication should also be identified.
In the event that cellular telephone service has been interrupted; the secondary the backup communications plan should be utilized.
Primary communications plan: ______________________________________________________

Secondary communications plan: ____________________________________________________

Backup communications plan: ___________________________________________
Location of communications equipment (land line telephones, two way radios etc…):

Rally Points

After the threat has passed, the (Leadership Position) may give an all clear and release the occupants from the shelter-in-place location. Occupants should be directed to the nearest pre-identified rally point where the process of accountability can begin.

The pre-designated Post Event Rally Points are:

Rally Point

Physical Location

# 1

# 2

# 3

# 4

# 5

**Attach Map Here**

Roles and Responsibilities

These are potential roles and responsibilities that can be assigned to various staff members.

Team Leader: This individual will determine if action should be taken and alert other team/staff members that the plan should be activated and notification should be made to everyone in the building via pre-identified communication methods. The Team Leader should be someone with leadership authority that can provide direction and instill calmness and order during the plan activation.
Information Coordinator: This individual should be assigned to monitor TV and the NOAA weather alert radio on days when there is potential for severe weather. The Information Coordinator will relay any important information to the Leadership team to allow decisions to be made.
Team Member: A team member should be assigned to assist individuals in moving to the designated safe place in the facility by guiding them to the closest route.
Team Member(s): A team member(s) should be assigned to assist the elderly and persons with mobility needs to the safe place.
Team Member(s): Depending on the size of the facility a team member or members should be assigned to different geographical areas within the facility to direct individuals in the correct direction and try to keep people moving in a calm, orderly and rapid manner. These team members may also assist in identifying those who may need assistance to relocate and notify the appropriate team members.
Day Care Staff: Take day care sign-in sheet, move children to the nearest safe place; calmly, but rapidly. The team leader should be provided with information regarding all actions taken along with information on any missing children.
Emergency Responder Liaison: A team member who is able to remain calm and effectively communicate in an emergency situation should be designated as the emergency responder liaison. This individual will communicate important information about the event, actions taken or assistance needed to Law Enforcement, Fire Department Emergency Medical Services and other response officials. The liaison will remain in contact with the Emergency Response Officials throughout the event or until the duty is assigned to another team member.

Exercise the Plan

It is recommended that a walk through tornado response drill with key leadership members will be conducted at least once a year to ensure the plan is still a viable plan.

At a minimum, an evaluated tornado response drill should be conducted during a day and time when the facility is fully occupied due to worship services or other activities. Your local emergency manager or fire department official would likely be more than willing to help with this task. If occupancy of the facility varies depending on day of the week, special activities, or worship services times, the leadership team may want to conduct more than one response drill.

Tornado Drill Log

Date of Drill

Observers / Evaluators

Areas for improvement identified or needs to be addressed

Plan Approval / Revisions

Plan Approved / Revisions Approved

Date Approved

Attachment # A – Leadership Team Phone Tree


Contact Information

(Phone / Mobile Phone / E-Mail)

Attachment # B – Facility Location Map

Use Google to identify your facility then copy and paste the map in this box.

Attachment # C – Facility Location Map – Aerial Photo

Use Google to identify your facility then copy and paste the map in this box.

Attachment # D – Tornado Response Plan Map

Once you have prepared the Tornado Response Plan Map for your facility paste it into this box.

Attachment # E – Important Phone Numbers


Contact Information

(Phone / Mobile Phone / E-Mail)



Local Emergency Manager

Local Fire Department

Local Police/Sheriff

Local Ambulance/medical assistance

What Next?

To further prepare your staff & members The Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security offers basic preparedness & response training called CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. For Information on how to host a class or to find a class scheduled near you visit:
CPR/first aid training has been proven time and time again to save lives. The American Red Cross offers a wide variety of CPR/First Aid courses and disaster preparedness training. For more information visit:
The National Weather Service has implemented a program called StormReady to recognize communities, businesses and other local entities that have taken extra steps to ensure the safety of those around them with regards to severe weather hazards.
StormReady Supporters are local entities that promote the principles and guidelines of the StormReady program into their severe weather safety and awareness plans. Entities may be eligible as a StormReady Supporter based on the bylaws of the local NWS StormReady Advisory Board and the endorsement from local emergency management. Final approval for StormReady Supporter designation is made by local StormReady Advisory Boards. Examples of potential StormReady Supporters might include, but are not limited to businesses, hospitals, places of worship, shopping centers and malls, schools, nuclear power plants, and event venues such as racetracks or stadiums.
After your place of worship has taken the steps to plan and prepare for a severe weather event, we encourage you to apply for your StormReady Supporter Status. For more information or to obtain an application we encourage you to visit:
The Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security, The National Weather Service and the American Red Cross thank you for your dedication to the safety of those who utilize your facility for worship services or other activities. If you have any questions or would like assistance with your plan please contact our office.

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