Reminder! School Fire & Security Drill Requirements At School Opening
Current law requires districts to complete fire and security drills within a certain number of days of school opening. Districts are required to comply with both fire and safety regulations as stipulated by statute and fire code.
Beginning in 2010, every school was required to hold monthly school security drills within the school hours, including any summer months during which the school is open for instructional programs. School Security drills are defined under the 2010 law as an ‘exercise, other than a fire drill, to practice procedures that respond to an emergency situation including, but not limited to, a non-fire evacuation, lockdown, or active shooter situation and that is similar in duration to a fire drill.’
Beginning in September 2011, schools were required to conduct a school security drill within the first 15 days of the beginning of the school year. However, Chapter 4 of the New Jersey Fire Code, 408.3.1, requires the first emergency evacuation drill of each school year to be conducted within 10 days of the beginning of classes.
Security Drill Requirements
Schools are also required to conduct a minimum of two security drills per year in each of the following areas: active shooter; evacuations; bomb threats; and lockdowns. All building occupants are required to participate in drills. However, two (2) of the eight (8) mandatory drills do not have to include students.
Schools must provide emergency responders with a friendly notification at least 48 hours prior to holding a security drill. Emergency responders are not required to observe security drills, however, it is encouraged that schools invite emergency responders to attend and observe at least four different security drills annually.
Per N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.1(d), districts must provide annual in-service training program for all district board of education employees to enable them to recognize and appropriately respond to safety and security concerns, emergencies and crises.
Districts are required to annually submit the “Security Drill Statement of Assurance” provided by the Department of Education to their county office of education by June 30 of each year. The county office must forward an information copy to the respective county prosecutor’s office. The “Security Drill Record Form” provided by the Department of Education shall be completed by all schools and retained at the district level.
Note: Responses made necessary by the unplanned activation of emergency procedures or by any other emergency shall not be substituted for a required school security drill.
The New Jersey Department of Education issued guidance in 2010 on the new drill requirements for schools. Other resources include:
- School Security Drill Guide
- Statement of Assurance
- Commissioner’s Memo – 7/14/10
- Security Drill Record Form (PDF| Word)
- Fire Drill Notice