Fire Safety - Office of Emergency Management (OEM)

Fire Alarm Activations

Evacuations Involving Individuals with Mobility Restrictions and/or Disabilities

When the fire alarm sounds in a building, or an evacuation order is given by an authorized campus official, all individuals (including faculty, staff, students, contractors, and visitors) who are capable of evacuating are to immediately leave the building by the nearest exit and move away from the building, or relocate to an unaffected building. Elevators are not to be used. If an evacuee encounters smoke and/or fire, they should pull the nearest fire alarm pull station and call University Police, (X2222 or 911 from a campus phone; (845) 257-2222 from a cell phone) from a safe location. Individuals are encouraged to account for friends, roommates, and colleagues and report individuals who were unable to evacuate to University Police or Emergency Management. No one is required to render aid to others, but those who feel comfortable are encouraged to do so safely.

Individuals with mobility restrictions and/or disabilities which prevent them from evacuating a building should follow the Evacuation Policy for Individuals with Mobility Restrictions and/or Disabilities

University Police and/or the New Paltz Fire Department will determine if the evacuation of individuals with mobility restrictions and/or disabilities is warranted, and if so will facilitate that evacuation. (Fire drills and other scenarios may not warrant a complete evacuation of individuals with mobility restrictions and/or disabilities due to time constraints and safety concerns.)

Old Main, Ridgeview Hall, and Science Hall all have Areas of Refuge in the stairwells, which include a two-way communication system with University Police, while van den Berg Hall has Areas of Rescue Assistance in the elevator lobbies. Most multi-story buildings have enclosed stairwells.

Faculty, Staff, Students, or visitors who fail to comply with Police, Fire, or a Campus Officials directions may be subject to disciplinary and/or legal action. ONLY Police, Fire, Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and Fire Alarm Contractor staff can permit an individual to remain in a building during a fire alarm, and that permission MUST be explicit and current.


Evacuation Policy for Individuals with Mobility Restrictions and/or Disabilities


SUNY New Paltz is committed to ensuring reasonable accommodations and accessibility to every person that has a need to use a campus facility.

It is the intention of this document to establish a policy for evacuation procedures for persons with mobility restrictions and/or disabilities.

Individuals with emotional, cognitive, mental health, and learning disabilities may have unique needs during an evacuation and will need to inform others of how best to assist them.


Evacuation Options:

All visitors to New Paltz have four basic evacuation options:

  • Horizontal evacuation: Use building exits at the ground level or go into attached, unaffected buildings.
  • Vertical evacuation: Use steps to reach ground level exits from the building or pathways into attached, unaffected buildings.
  • Shelter in Place: Only when a Shelter in Place order has been given by UPD or OEM shall an occupant remain in a room, (with a telephone if possible). With this approach, the person may keep in contact with UPD by dialing (845) 257-2222 or 911 and reporting his or her location. UPD/911 will immediately relay this location to responding Police and/or Fire personnel, who will determine the necessity for/feasibility of evacuation. Cell phones remain the ideal means of communication in this instance as their operation should remain unaffected by the emergency within the building.
  • Building Rescue Area, (this includes an enclosed and smoke-free stairwell, a designated Area of Rescue Assistance (ARA), or a designated Area of Refuge (AOR)): With an evacuation assistant if possible, move to a Building Rescue Area away from obvious danger. Fire and/or Police personnel will determine if further evacuation is necessary or practical.


Prior to an emergency:

It is the responsibility of every faculty member, staff member, student and visitor with or without mobility restrictions or other disabilities to identify their primary and secondary evacuation routes from each space of every building they use. Those with mobility restrictions and/or disabilities are responsible for recruiting an evacuation assistant to aid in their evacuation - either to a building rescue area (Area of Rescue Assistance, Area of Refuge, or smoke-free and enclosed stairwell) or to the outside. Every student and prospective student on the SUNY New Paltz campus with a mobility restriction or disability is encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and notify them of ways that we can provide accommodations. The DRC can assist students with mobility restrictions and disabilities in the planning process, including determining the occupants best evacuation options, helping identify their evacuation assistants, and providing resources to identify building rescue areas. The DRC should relay this information to the University Police and OEM who will inform Police and Fire personnel in the event of an emergency. Faculty and staff with mobility restrictions and/or disabilities should contact the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to obtain the same assistance and accommodations.

During an emergency:

Only individuals with mobility restrictions and/or disabilities are permitted to utilize designated Areas of Refuge (Old Main, Ridgeview Hall, or Science Hall), Areas of Rescue Assistance (van den Berg Hall), or other smoke-free and enclosed stairwells during an evacuation order or fire alarm. Those individuals must notify University Police of their location and need for assistance immediately. 

Persons with mobility restrictions and/or other disabilities should:

  • Be familiar with evacuation options
  • Seek evacuation assistants who are willing to assist in case of an emergency
  • Ask Supervisors, DRC, UPD, or OEM about evacuation plans for buildings

Most buildings on campus have accessible exits at the ground level that can be used during an emergency. For emergencies that occur in areas above the ground floor and an accessible route is unavailable, occupants with mobility restrictions and/or disabilities should relocate to a building rescue area.

Helpers and others who may assist those with mobility restrictions and/or disabilities are reminded to always ask someone how they can help before attempting any rescue technique or giving assistance. Ask how he or she can best be assisted or moved.

Individuals with Mobility Restrictions and/or Disabilities utilizing wheelchairs:

Persons using wheelchairs should move to a building rescue area with their assistant when the alarm sounds. The evacuation assistant should then proceed to the exterior of the building and tell UPD and/or the Fire Department personnel the location of the person utilizing the building rescue area. If the individual is alone, he/she should phone UPD at X2222 (from a campus phone), (845) 257-2222 (from a cell phone), or 911 (from any phone) with their present location and the building rescue area in which they are located.

If a small stair landing is chosen as a building rescue area, please wait until the heavy traffic has passed before entering the stairway, if safe to do so.

Stairway evacuation of wheelchair users should be conducted by trained professionals. Only in situations of extreme, imminent danger should untrained people attempt to evacuate wheelchair users. Moving a wheelchair down stairs may not be the safest option.

Individuals with Mobility Restrictions and/or Disabilities not utilizing a wheelchair:

Persons with mobility restrictions and/or disabilities who are able to walk independently or with minimal assistance may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency. If possible, the individual should wait until the heavy traffic has cleared before attempting the stairs. If there is no immediate danger (no detectable smoke, fire, or unusual odor) and evacuating via stairs may exacerbate the disability, the individual may choose to stay in the building, using the building rescue area until Police or Fire personnel arrive and determine if evacuation is necessary.






New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Safety Bulletins