The sound of alarm alerts occupants that there is an emergency in the building, but it can’t tell them what the nature of the emergency is. It may be a fire, but it could also be a security threat or other emergency. Visual and audible security messaging is necessary to fully inform the occupants of a building as to the nature of the emergency, and the course of action to take.
Last month, the Fire Protection Research Foundation released new guidelines on what emergency communications should say in the event of an emergency such as a fire or other rapid onset event. According to an April 21 NFPA news release, the guidance report is based on a review of 162 literature sources from a variety of social science and engineering disciplines.”
The new guidelines offer facility security management a checklist of things to include in their emergency communications messages for 5 specific incidences, and even gets right down to specific words to use. For example, active verbs and present tense best convey the gravity of the situation and the need to take action.
For now, the NFPA guidelines are just that, guidelines, but the organization hopes that with further research, requirements can be codified. “For example, the report suggests further study to determine the optimal length of an emergency message and how many times it should be disseminated during an emergency.”
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