Building Evacuations and Fire Drills


Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) is responsible for scheduling fire drills for the UW Seattle campus and major research stations, and we can assist at other locations. Drills help building occupants prepare to respond to a variety of building emergencies. Fire codes require regularly scheduled drills in most large buildings at least annually.  

Evacuation drills

Drills are generally unannounced so they are realistic and educational. EH&S will usually schedule fire drills for the Seattle campus about three weeks in advance by coordinating with the building coordinator, evacuation director and key administrators so that a date and time may be identified for the drill that avoids unnecessary disruption to operations. For research buildings, advance notification may be extended to a key person for each lab so that the drill does not create a safety hazard or disrupt critical and expensive lab operations. However, other personnel should not be informed.


Except for University housing, drills are scheduled during normal business hours, usually between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

For drills scheduled on the Seattle campus, contact EH&S at 206.685.0341 or

If you have a preference for the time of year for your building’s fire drill, please contact EH&S so that we may add it to our planning schedule.

Drill reports

Evacuation directors are responsible for critiquing their drill with support from EH&S. Observations about the drill should be shared with evacuation wardens and key personnel to improve future response and performance. The evacuation director should complete a Fire Drill Report form.

Unintentional alarms, such as malicious activation of fire alarm pull stations or burned food setting off smoke detectors, do not count towards the required scheduled drills.

Evacuation directors and wardens

A building's evacuation director and evacuation wardens should be assigned or appointed by organizational unit(s) occupying the building to oversee preparation for emergencies and coordinate building evacuation procedures.

Refer to the Evacuation Director Responsibilities and the Evacuation Warden Responsibilities focus sheets for a full description of responsibilities.

EH&S provides training and resources for evacuation directors and wardens to prepare for emergencies:

Evacuation route maps

Most buildings are provided with Evacuation Route Maps located in a conspicuous location in a public hallway. The maps help indicate the location of exits and evacuation assembly points. EH&S develops and maintains these maps for existing buildings on the UW Seattle campus.

Specifications for creating these signs for new construction projects are available on the UW Facilities Design Standard webpage

Assembly points

A number of outdoor assembly points have been identified for the campus. A specific assembly point should be designated for your building as indicated on the evacuation route map posted in your building and in your Fire Safety and Evacuation Plan.

Campus mass assembly areas are also available if the local assembly point is unsafe or unavailable.

Emergency preparedness

Occupants should be prepared for a number of anticipated building emergencies some of which will require immediate or delayed evacuation.

Visit the Building Emergency Procedures and Resources webpage for more information.

Alarm sounds

If a fire alarms sounds in your building, you may hear one of the following tones:

Slow Woop Alarm
Temporal Digital 3 Alarm Tone

Frequently asked questions about fire drills and evacuations

Frequently asked questions about evacuation directors and wardens

More Information



Building and Fire Safety Contact

(206) 685-0341