NEW FIRE SAFETY PLAN IMPLEMENTED IN THE NEW CASTLE COUNTY COURTHOUSE
To enhance fire safety and preparedness in the New Castle County Courthouse (NCCCH), the Administrative Office of the Courts worked with the individual courts to implement a new fire safety plan in the NCCCH in early November 2006. The success of this increased emphasis on safety was demonstrated on November 17th when the first fire drill under the new safety plan was held. The building was evacuated in a timely manner, meeting the approval of the Wilmington Fire Marshal’s office, which was present to observe the process.
The smooth evacuation process was the result of numerous training sessions held in recent months by the Administrative Office of the Courts, working with its fire safety consultant. These have included four training sessions for the Quick Response Team (composed of security personnel from each of the courts), which focused on the teams’ responsibilities, communications, and knowledge of the new fire safety plan. In conjunction with this training, two drills were conducted in which the team responded to various fires reported throughout the building.
In addition, 24 employee training sessions and a special session for judicial officers were conducted to provide an opportunity for every employee to receive training on the new fire safety plan and changes to the fire alarm system. The training sessions focused on reviewing all building exits, the need to immediately exit the building upon fire alarm activation, handicapped evacuation, and roles and responsibilities of fire wardens in evacuating the building. An additional four training sessions were conducted for the fire wardens themselves to provide more detailed information on their responsibilities.
All training sessions also reviewed a new procedure whereby the entire building is immediately evacuated once it is determined that an alarm reflects an actual hazard. Previously, only the floor on which the problem occurred and the floors directly above and below it were immediately evacuated, with additional floors being evacuated on an as needed basis. Evacuation procedures will continue to be tested on a regular basis with fire drills held at least four times per year.