If you are considering a Mass Notification System for your school campuses, it is critical that you become familiar with the existing EMNS terminology, codes, and mandates. It is critical because it will help you choose and implement an EMNS Solution that ensures your organization spends its money wisely and gets the most complete solution.
In our last post, Emergency Mass Notification System (EMNS) – Need to Know, we defined what Primary Notifications and Secondary Notification meant, as well as the differences between Mass Notification Layers 1 – 4. If you haven’t already learned about them, check out that post by clicking your mouse on the link above.
Codes and Mandates
In speaking with clients, we find many are not aware of the specific codes and the terminology used in those codes. In light of the constant number of mass shootings in the past year, Code Compliance in education is important. The Americans with Disabilities Act, The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), and the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (NFPA 72) all have requirements as it relates to Emergency Mass Notification.
• The Americans with Disabilities Act specifies that emergency preparedness and response programs be accessible to people with disabilities, including emergency mass notification and access to information.
• The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) reauthorizes the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) and mandates under federal statutes that universities and colleges issue emergency warnings. The HEOA further establishes requirements for timely warning and emergency notification.
• In addition to its core focus on fire alarm systems, the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (NFPA 72) includes requirements for mass notification systems. Specifically highlighted in Chapter 24 with respect to mass notification the Code States:
184.108.40.206.1 Where audible notification is provided, mass notification systems shall also provide visible notification information to serve the hearing impaired and for high-noise areas.
220.127.116.11.4 Transmission of visible notification and messages shall be simultaneous to audible notification and messages.
18.104.22.168* Overview. Distributed recipient mass notification system (DRMNS) alerting shall not be used in lieu of required audible and visible alerting mass notification systems but shall be integrated with mass notification systems whenever possible.
• Executive Order 13407 specifically mandates that public alert and warning systems serve those with disabilities.
Many of the codes are related to penalties as well. For example, Title IV Higher Education Institutions can occur stiff fines and lose funding if they aren’t in compliance.