"You can't go anywhere without hearing the word 'evacuation,'" said education session speaker Ed Plaugher with the International Association Fire Chiefs (IAFC). "Want to know a little secret? There is no such thing as a mandatory evacuation. Laws..can't force you to leave your home."
A range of natural disasters have the ability to devastate communities and prompt such evacuations, but what's apparently lacking are standardized procedures guiding the relocation of people.
Enter NFPA, IAFC, and the National Governors Association, which are working to create an all-hazards, nationwide evacuation model for both emergency workers and residents. During this morning's education session, "Mass Evacuation Planning: Working Toward a Common Framework," NFPA's Ken Willette discussed how this topic impacts aspects of NFPA's mission, including emergency preparedness; emergency responder training and safety; and the built environment. Certain NFPA codes, including NFPA 1600: Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs, already address these areas.
Going forward, NFPA will serve as the lead standards development organization in creating a mass evacuation standard. A request was submitted to NFPA's Standards Council last year on developing such a standard. Willette says the request is still receiving public comment.