To:Head of Fire Departments
From:Stephen D. Coan, State Fire Marshal
Date:September 11, 2000
Re:Requirement for School Evacuation/Multi-Hazard Plans

Section 363 of Chapter 159 of the Acts of 2000, by the Massachusetts Legislature, requires all school districts to formulate specific school emergency plans. This Act, cited below, places the responsibility to develop these plans upon the Superintendent of each school district and requires that Superintendent work with local fire and police departments in its development. This advisory is provided to you in order that you are aware that such requests for assistance and collaboration should be forthcoming. The Act reads as follows:

"Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the superintendent of each school district shall, prior to the beginning of the school year, meet with the fire chief (emphasis added) and police chief of the city, town or district to formulate a school specific "Multi-hazard evacuation plan" for each school under the superintendent's supervision. Said multi-hazard evacuation plan shall encompass, but not be limited to, evacuation for fires, hurricanes and other hazardous storms or disaster in which bodily injury might occur, shootings and other terrorist activities, and bomb threats. Said plan shall be formulated for each school building after a review of each building. Said plan shall include, but not be limited to: (1) establishment of a crisis response team; (2) designation as to who is in charge of said team and designated substitutes; (3) a communications plan; (4) crisis procedures for safe entrance to and exit from the school by students, parents and employees; and (5) policies for enforcing school discipline and maintaining a safe and orderly environment during the crisis. Each district, with the assistance of the local police and fire departments (emphasis added), shall annually review and update as appropriate said plan. At the beginning of each school year, students at each school shall be instructed as to the plan that is developed."

Over the past year, each fire department received a copy of the "School Emergencies, Community Pre-Planning Guide," published by the Executive Office of Public Safety. Many of you participated or sent representatives to seminars on this planning guidance that were held throughout the state. I suggest that this guide may be beneficial in assisting school districts in meeting their planning requirements