Fire Alarm During an Exam: What to Do?

Safety always comes first, even during an exam. If the fire alarm goes off, everyone has to leave the building. The education tip below explains the difference between an evacuation alarm and a warning alarm. It also explains how to prepare for an evacuation. 

When to Evacuate?  

It is good to know that there are no evacuation exercises during exam periods. However, that does not make any difference: when an evacuation alarm goes off, you have to evacuate no matter what. Even if you think it is only an exercise.  

  • in Ghent University buildings, there are are two types of alarms: a warning alarm and an evacuation alarm. A signal with one (interrupted) tone is a warning. A two-tone signal is the evacuation alarm and should at all times lead to immediate evacuation, including during exams. You can listen to the difference between the two signals via the online portal (in Dutch)
  • in HoGent and HoWest buildings, there is only one alarm signal. This always means immediate evacuation. 

How to Prepare for an Evacuation? 

  • in many auditoria, usually on the desk, you will find an instruction sheet on how to proceed as a lecturer in case of an evacuation alarm. Please read the instructions before the examination; 
  • take a moment during the exam to look for the (emergency) exits, and to determine how you would organize an evacuation; 
  • always make sure that students write their names on their examination paper at the very start of the examination; 
  • if the evacuation alarm goes off, act swiftly. Make sure the students leave the classroom in an orderly fashion. Let them come forward quietly and in rows so you can collect the examination papers;  
  • when the last student has submitted their paper, take the papers with you and go to the assembly point. 

How to Proceed after the Evacuation?  

Depending on the situation: 

  • try to restart the exam. Let the students return to the classroom to finish the exam. In case of a written exam, students will most likely have exchanged the questions and answers. If possible, give your students a blank exam paper with new questions so that the exam as a whole would be fair; 
  • if restarting on the same day is not possible, you will have to reschedule the exam to a later date. This is a matter for the University Board, so it is important to contact Faculty Managment (the chairman of the Examination Board and the Director of Studies) and the Educational Policy Deparment (DOWA) as soon as possible. They will inform the board members, and determine on an appropriate course of action and communication strategy. 

Want to Know More? 

Please contact the Office of the Ombudsperson: 

Last modified Jan. 13, 2021, 10:45 a.m.