Fire Alarm Evacuation Procedures

Effective September 2012. Last update Sept 2023.

The following procedures should be followed in the event of a fire or fire alarm in the Main Library Building. Grainger Engineering Library Information Center follow their own procedures. Departmental libraries not located in the Main Library Building fire should handle fire emergencies according to procedures followed by the department in the respective buildings.

Alarm Procedures

Alarms trigger automatically. When the alarm is activated, the appropriate agencies (Fire, Police) are automatically contacted.

Manual Procedures

In the unlikely situation that the alarm is manually triggered, (e.g., in the case of visible flames, visible smoke or strange and unusual odors) the following procedures should be followed:

The employee should immediately:

  • Activate the nearest fire alarm pull box.
  • Follow evacuation procedures below.


Evacuation Procedures

When a Fire Alarm is sounded library employees should notify all patrons and other staff in their unit that all occupants must evacuate the building.

A staff member should clearly inform the patron of possible imminent danger to personal safety. If the patron refuses to leave the building, the staff member should continue with evacuation procedures. From a safe location call 911 to inform the police department of the location of the individual.

General Procedures

  • Library employees are not to remain in the building, except for those individuals with specific assignments relating to alarm procedures.
  • Doors to all library units should be locked. The Fire Department has keys to all doors. Fire and rescue workers must have access to all areas of the building.
  • The lights should be left on to provide additional visibility for the Fire Department.
  • Do not remain in the first floor foyers or corridors during a fire alarm or emergency. Evacuation requires that all employees and patrons go outside the building regardless of weather conditions or perceived lack of danger.
  • During the fire alarm or emergency, library employees waiting outside the building can help by informing approaching people not to enter the building. Employees exiting the building should assist by advising people to vacate the first floor foyers and vestibules.
  • Individuals should stay 50 feet clear of entrances once they have evacuated the building to provide access for Fire Department personnel.
  • Circulation will post individuals at the North, South, and West Basement doors.
  • Social Sciences, Health and Education Library will post an individual at the East Door.
  • Shipping staff will attend to North loading dock door (M-F: 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.).
  • The north door (Wright Street) assignee will be the primary contact with the Fire Department.


Workers and Patrons with Disabilities

Within each area one library staff member should take responsibility for all employee(s) and patron(s) with disabilities, particularly those in wheelchairs. The staff person is to go to the North door (Wright Street entrance) to inform fire-fighters where the persons with disabilities are located. For smaller units, two units could arrange to cooperate to help the individual(s) with disabilities during these circumstances.

Help the person(s) with disabilities to the safest area (i.e., area with the least amount of smoke) on the floor, preferably the North or South stairwells. The person(s) with disabilities should wait there for firefighters to help him/her from the building, if necessary. (It is not advisable for staff to attempt to move individuals with wheelchairs in or out of their wheelchair or down stairways, except as a last resort.)

If a person with a disability is alone in a room with a phone and is not in any immediate danger, that individual should call 911 and relay the situation. If the person is in an area without a phone, he/she should proceed to a safe, smoke-free stairwell landing.

Prominently display specific instructions for patrons with disabilities throughout the Library so that patrons are aware of evacuation procedures. See Appendix A, for special procedures regarding fire evacuation in Bookstacks for persons with disabilities.

APPENDIX A : Special Procedures for Fire Evacuation for Patrons with Disabilities in the Bookstacks

The Circulation and Bookstacks Department has developed special procedures for assisting patrons with disabilities in the event of a fire emergency. With the installation of the voice-over fire emergency alarm system, Circulation staff no longer search the Bookstacks for patrons with disabilities before evacuating the building themselves. Bookstacks procedures focus on providing fire fighters with as much information as possible about patrons with disabilities who may be in the Bookstacks and posting adequate signage about the location of safe stairwells. For patrons with disabilities who are in the Circulation Desk area at the time of a fire emergency, or who come to the desk area from inside the Bookstacks, staff procedures are the same as for other units.


Entrance Staff

  • Entrance staff will serve as contacts as well as being responsible to inform people not to enter the building until the all clear is given. The designated entrance staff will be wearing orange vests to identify themselves. It would also be helpful to post a “fire emergency sign” at each entrance to prevent people from entering.
  • If the fire alarm or emergency continues after closing time, the Library duty officer will determine which staff members will remain until it is safe to re-enter the building and lock up. The Library duty officer is the Circulation duty officer until the Main Library closes.
  • The Fire Department will announce when it is safe to re-enter the building. They will be responsible for turning on the fire alarm system’s all-clear notice and for re-setting the alarm system. North door staff notifies staff at other doors (South, East, West). If the firefighters notify north door staff, it is their responsibility to notify North door staff that it is safe to re-enter the building.



  • Heads of all library units are responsible for advising all employees of fire safety and emergency procedures. Information concerning location of fire extinguishers, evacuation routes, emergency notification procedures, etc. should be provided to all employees on a regular basis. It is important to repeat policies and procedures, even for veteran employees.
  • Annual fire safety training will be arranged with the Fire Department to instruct employees in fire safety measures.
  • Every unit should possess a copy of the Campus Fire/Tornado Safety: Reference Guide , prepared by the Fire Prevention Officer, University of Illinois Department of Campus Safety and Risk Management, Division of Fire Protection (a copy is provided with the Library Policy and Procedures Manual ).



Extensive signage which points out the location of safe stairwells is posted at the entrance to the Bookstacks and at all elevators.

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