Don’t Get Burned by School Safety Drill Requirements

Don’t forget to get your school year off to a safe start by complying with state safety drill obligations. Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about these requirements.

Q: Which schools are required to conduct safety drills each school year?

A: Michigan’s Fire Prevention Code requires every local school district, intermediate school district, and public school academy operating any of grades K-12 to conduct fire, tornado, and lockdown drills.

Q: How many fire, tornado, and lockdown drills are required? When are they required?

A: A school must conduct at least 10 total drills for each school year, including:

  • a minimum of five fire drills (at least three of those drills must be held by December 1, and the other two drills must take place during the remainder of the school year with a reasonable interval between the drills);
  • a minimum of two tornado drills (at least one of those drills must be held in March); and
  • a minimum of three lockdown drills (at least one of those drills must be held by December 1, and at least one must take place after January 1).

At least one of the drills (e.g., fire, tornado, or lockdown) must be conducted during either lunch, recess, or another time when a significant number of students are gathered but not in a classroom.

Q: Must a school schedule these safety drills in advance?

A: Yes. By September 15, the school’s chief administrator (e.g., the superintendent) must provide a list of the scheduled drill days to the county emergency management coordinator in the school’s jurisdiction.

Q: What is a lockdown drill, and what must it include?

A: Under a lockdown drill, students and staff are to be restricted to the interior of the school building. The drill must include security measures that are appropriate to “an emergency,” such as the release of a hazardous material or the presence of a potentially dangerous individual in or near the school building. The school board must seek input from school administration and local public safety officials on the nature of the drills. State and local police may, but are not required to, participate.

Q: Under what grounds may the school’s chief administrator reschedule a safety drill?

A: The school’s chief administrator may reschedule a safety drill due to conditions not within the control of school authorities (e.g., severe storms, fires, epidemics, utility power unavailability, water or sewer failure, or health conditions as defined by public health authori­ties). A canceled safety drill must be rescheduled within 10 school days after the originally scheduled date, and the school’s chief administrator must notify the county emergency management coordinator of the rescheduled date.

Q: What must the school do after conducting a safety drill?

A: Within 30 school days after each safety drill, school officials must provide documentation on the school’s website that the drill occurred. Documentation must include the school’s name; the school year; the drill date, time, and type; the number of completed drills to date for that drill type; the school principal or designee’s signature acknowledging the drill; and the name of the person who conducted the drill, if not the school principal. The school’s website must maintain this information for at least three years.

Q: What is the penalty for failing to conduct a required safety drill?

A: Failing to conduct a required safety drill violates the Fire Prevention Code and is punishable as a misdemeanor.