A Critical Tool in Time of Emergency
Firefighters and police officers know that in an emergency, every second counts. In a time of crisis, having access to a facility’s floor plans is critical because it enables first responders to act quickly and effectively. How well do your local first responders know your facility (the layout, the access points, etc.)? Have you shared your floor plans with them?
How to Get Started
If you don’t have detailed floor plans of your facility, now is the time to get started. Floor plans should be marked to show exterior doors, windows, stairwells, fire doors, and the numbers and use of all rooms. Aerial photographs and satellite photographs (available on the Internet) should be included.
There are many companies out there who can assist you in developing a floor plan. BeSafe Technologies, based in Centerville, Massachusetts, is a company that the Archdiocese of Boston recommends. Once an institution contracts with a company like BeSafe, a team is sent to conduct an on-site visit. The team collects approximately 50 pieces of data during its visit, including the names of the facilities if it is a multi-building campus, room names, room numbers, the location of doors and in which direction they swing open, location of windows and fire equipment. Digital photos are taken of electrical and gas shutoffs, the lobbies, cafeterias and stairwells and exterior photos of all the ways in and out of the building. The photos are put onto the computer so that the digital floor plan links to the photos.
This information is then put onto the secure web-based application that is shared with local fire and police departments. Information such as the names of key personnel and phone numbers can be updated by the client through a secure website, which sends the changes to the client’s authorized users, such as police and fire officials, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that current information is in the hands of those who need it when they need it.
First responders can access this information online, but in the event that the Internet connection is lost, it is available on flash drives and on hard copies.
DYI Floor Plans
If you cannot afford the cost of hiring a company to create, store, share, and update your floor plans, then reach out to your congregation to see if someone has the skills to assist. To help you in this process, please download our Floor Plan Checklist.
Google searches will also reveal online software that can help you with the process.
Keep it Secure
Your floor plans should only be disclosed to authorized personnel such as police and firefighters. Make sure electronic copies are password-protected, and keep paper copies locked in a safe location.