Iowa Fire Prevention: What you need to know

Iowa has no specific law or regulation requiring employers to conduct fire drills.

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The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) standards, adopted by Iowa's own occupational safety and health act, require that companies with 10 or more employees have written fire prevention and emergency exit plans for each workplace. To ensure that the exit plan is properly executed in an actual emergency, it is advisable to rehearse periodically with annual or semiannual drills. Employers with fewer than 10 employees may communicate the plans orally.

OSHA standards also indicate that any fire prevention plan should also include fire drill procedures and safety precautions for avoiding a fire. Fire drills should be conducted as frequently as once every 6 months or up to once a year, depending on the needs of the facility. After the fire drill, the employer should conduct an employee briefing to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan.

There is a more detailed discussion of federal OSH Act emergency and fire plan requirements. Local fire safety codes may contain additional requirements.

The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division, in conjunction with the National Weather Service, holds an annual Severe Weather Alertness Week in April, which covers preparedness and warning issues for flash floods, thunderstorms, and tornadoes. A statewide tornado drill for businesses, schools, local governments, and state agencies is scheduled for the Wednesday of that week. The state encourages employers to participate in the drill, practice emergency plans, and coordinate policies and activities.

A list of county emergency coordinators is available at http://www.iowahomelandsecurity.org/Documents/HS%20Coord%20Public%20List.pdf

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