To: Head of Fire Departments
From: Stephen D. Coan, State Fire Marshal
Date: June 27, 2001
Re: School Fire Drills

This memorandum is being compiled to provide guidance on 527 CMR 10.09 Schools, of which many questions are surfacing. Text in italics will be explanations by the Office of the State Fire Marshal to provide clarification

527 CMR 10.09 Schools

  • The responsible school official in charge of the school or school system shall formulate a plan for the protection and evacuation of all persons in the event of a fire, and shall include alternate means of egress for all persons involved; such plan shall be presented to and approved by the head of the fire department.
  • The headmaster or person-in-charge of each school shall see that each class instructor or supervisor shall receive proper instructions on the fire drill procedure specified for the room or area in which that person carries out his duties before he assumes such duties.
  • For these points, the school department shall complete the plans with the assistance from the head of the fire department.
  • Every student in all schools shall be advised of the fire drill procedure or shall take part in a fire drill within three days after entering such school.
  • At a minimum, the headmaster or person-in-charge shall go over the plan for evacuation within three days after entering such school.
  • The head of the fire department, or person designated by him, shall visit each school at least four (4) times each year for conducting fire drills and questioning the teachers and supervisors. These drills shall be conducted without advance warning other than the person-in-charge of the school at the time.

Records. A record of all fire exit drills shall be kept on the premises and persons in charge of such occupancies shall file written reports at least twice a year with the head of the fire department giving the following information:
(a) time of drill
(b) date of drill
(c) weather conditions
(d) number of occupants evacuated
(e) total time for evacuation
(f) other information relevant to drill (i.e. evacuation of disabled persons, locations simulated to be blocked by fire/smoke to test alternate means of egress)

A sample form has been attached, if you choose to use it, for recording the information required. This form has been designed to record the minimum appropriate information.

Evacuation. Fire exit drills shall include complete evacuation of all persons from the building.

Educational assembly areas shall conform to the requirements of 527 CMR 10.17.

10.17 Places of Assembly

  • The information provided is a very brief outline of the requirements of this section. Please refer to 527CMR 10.17 for the complete text and requirements.
  • A certificate of Inspection (table 106 of 780 CMR) is issued by the building official.
  • Posting of an approved, legible sign of contrasting colors, near the main entrance of approved occupant load to be determined by the building official (typically, auditoriums, cafeterias, cafetoriums, gymnasiums). If the area serves more than one function, each function shall be posted.
  • In the event the facility is overcrowded, or obstructions in aisles, passageways or other means of egress or any condition which constitutes a hazard to life and safety shall cause the performance, presentation, spectacle or entertainment to be stopped until the area posted occupant load is re-established or the obstruction or hazardous condition removed.

This is an overview of the requirements of the Fire Prevention Regulations. In order to properly enforce the provisions of 527 CMR, the CMR must be consulted and reviewed.

If you require any assistance, please contact our Code Compliance and Enforcement Unit at (978) 567-3300 or in Western MA at (413) 587-3181.