Reviewed Date: 11/10/2022
Lockdown Plans Require Approval of the Fire Official
Many educational, mercantile, and business occupancy have established lockdown plans to address situations such as active shooters, police situations in the vicinity of the occupancy, an unwelcome individual on the property, etc. Ideally, the responsible parties (owners, managers, principals, directors, etc.) should develop these plans in conjunction with local police, fire, and EMS departments.
What is required by the 2020 International Fire Code is that lockdown plans must be approved by the fire official having jurisdiction where the occupancy is located. Most responsible parties of occupancies that develop lockdown plans are not aware of this requirement, and many fire officials may not be aware of it, either.
What is a Lockdown?
The 2021 International Fire Code defines “lockdown” as, "An emergency situation, in other than a Group I-3 occupancy (Detention Center, Jail, Prison, Pre-Release Center), requiring that the occupants be sheltered and secured in place within a building when normal evacuation would put occupants at risk."
It is important to understand that lockdown plans are intended to supplement approved fire safety and evacuation plans. Lockdown plans are not stand-alone to protect occupants in place of building evacuation where appropriate.
IFC Requirements for Lockdown Plans
The 2021 Edition of the International Fire Code (IFC) is the code adopted by the State of Tennessee. The following section is quoted from the 2021 Edition of the International Fire Code and addresses lockdown plans.
SECTION 404 – FIRE SAFETY AND EVACUATION PLANS
Where required by Section 403, fire safety, evacuation, and lockdown plans shall comply with the requirements of Sections 404.2 through 404.4.1.
404.2.3 Lockdown plans.
Lockdown plans shall only be permitted where such plans are approved by the fire code official and are in compliance with Sections 404.2.3.1 and 404.2.3.2.
404.2.3.1 Lockdown plan contents.
Lockdown plans shall be approved by the fire code official and shall include the following:
- Identification of individuals authorized to issue a lockdown order.
- Security measures used during normal operations, when the building is occupied, that could adversely affect the egress or fire department operations.
- A description of identified emergency and security threats addressed by the plan, including specific lockdown procedures to be implemented for each threat condition.
- Means and methods of initiating a lockdown plan for each threat, including:
- The means of notifying occupants of a lockdown event, which shall be distinct from the fire alarm signal.
- Identification of each door or other access point that will be secured.
- A description of the means and methods used to secure doors and other access points.
- A description of how locking means and methods are in compliance with the requirements of this code for egress and accessibility.
- Procedures for reporting to the fire department any lockdown condition affecting the egress or fire department operations.
- Procedures for determining and reporting the presence or absence of occupants to emergency response agencies during a lockdown.
- Means for providing two-way communications between a central location and each area subject to being secured during a lockdown.
- Identification of the prearranged signal for terminating the lockdown.
- Identification of individuals authorized to issue a lockdown termination order.
- Procedures for unlocking doors and verifying that the means of egress has been returned to normal operations upon the termination of the lockdown.
- Training procedures and frequency of lockdown plan drills.
Lockdown plan drills shall be conducted in accordance with the approved plan. Such drills shall not be substituted for fire and evacuation drills required by Section 405.3.
Fire safety, evacuation, and lockdown plans shall be reviewed or updated annually or as necessitated by changes in staff assignments, occupancy, or the physical arrangement of the building.
Fire safety, evacuation, and lockdown plans shall be available in the workplace for reference and review by employees, and copies shall be furnished to the fire code official for review on request.
The fire safety, evacuation, and lockdown plans shall be distributed to the tenants and building service employees by the owner or owner’s agent. Tenants shall distribute to the employees' applicable parts of the fire safety plan and lockdown plan affecting the employees’ action in the event of a fire or other emergency.