Evacuations are one of the major protective actions used at Gonzaga University during emergencies. Evacuations help protect individuals by moving people away from a dangerous area and into a safe location. Evacuations can be very small, isolated to just part of a building, or very large and encompass an entire campus or town. The most common kinds of evacuations at GU are building evacuations, where occupants of a building are asked to move to a safe location outdoors and wait for further instructions. Everyone who works, lives, and studies at Gonzaga University should be familiar with the general evacuation procedures on this page.  Individual departments, programs, or offices may have additional or more specific evacuation procedures as well.

Evacuations are ordered whenever conditions are sufficiently hazardous to life safety that it becomes necessary to move individuals, or as a precaution if such circumstances are considered reasonable.  There are many different origins of an evacuation. In some cases, fire alarm systems may sense dangerous conditions and activate the fire alarm system for a building. An evacuation can be ordered by an individual who observes dangerous conditions. Evacuations may also be ordered in anticipation of dangerous conditions. In all cases, when you receive an evacuation order you should immediately assess your surroundings and begin taking steps to safely evacuate the area.

Generally speaking, all evacuations at Gonzaga follow the same basic procedures: 

  1. When you are notified of an evacuation, take a moment to evaluate the situation and commit to a smart decision to evacuate. If you cannot safely evacuate, commit to an alternate protective action. 
  2. Once you commit to the evacuation protective action, take a moment to do the following if you can safely and quickly do so:
    • Lock computers (or take small laptops/tablets/etc. with you) 
    • Put on sturdy shoes that protect your feet
    • Grab a coat or jacket on the way out the door 
    • Move any sensitive or valuable materials you were working with into a drawer or otherwise conceal them from view
  3. Immediately proceed to the nearest evacuation route and exit the building at ground level. Make sure to bring guests, visitors, or those who look lost with you. Do not delay taking action to convince others to evacuate. 
  4. Once outside, move away from the building to your assigned staging area. This information is listed on the Campus Evacuation Staging Area Map. If you are unsure of where to go, move about 500’ away from the building and get onto a grassy area. Look for individuals wearing safety vests or carrying orange flags and stay near them. 
  5. Follow your procedures for checking in with your supervisor, instructor, RA, etc. Do not leave the area until you receive instructions to do so from a first responder, a Campus Security or Public Safety officer, or another uniformed individual. Avoid standing on sidewalks, and never stand in the street. Avoid wandering around campus until the situation is resolved.
  6. Never re-enter an evacuated building without receiving instruction from a first responder, Campus Security and Public Safety officer, or another uniformed individual. 
  7. Encourage passers-by or others who may try to enter the evacuated building to wait with you at the safe staging area until re-entry is permitted. 
  8. Notify 911 of any individuals who are stranded, require immediate medical assistance, or of any changing urgent situations

In some cases, evacuations will be ordered via a ZagAlert emergency message and will contain specific instructions.  In these instances, follow the instructions contained in the ZagAlert message. 


Individuals who cannot self-evacuate from a building should be familiar with safe areas to await assistance during an evacuation.  When an evacuation is ordered, these individuals should move into these designated areas of rescue and notify 911 of their location, and then notify Campus Security & Public Safety by calling 509-313-6358.  Unless specified below, areas of rescue in all Gonzaga University buildings are located in the landings of concrete stairwells with doors that close the stairwell off from the larger building.

The fire alarm systems at Gonzaga University include both audible and visual indicators of their activation.  If an individual needs additional assistance in determining that the system is active, they should partner with the Office of Disability Access (for students) or Human Resources (for employees) for additional accommodations. While not required, individuals with functional or access needs or with non-English language needs should also consider partnering with their instructors, supervisors, or RAs (depending on the building in question) to address their evacuation plans and ensure their needs are being met. 


Unless specified below, the area(s) of rescue for all Gonzaga University buildings are inside concrete stairwells that have doors to close off the stairwell from the building. Individuals who require assistance moving between floors should wait on the landings after the stairwells are clear. Make sure to close the doors between the stairwell and the building.

The following buildings have special area(s) of rescue:

  • Coughlin Residence Hall
  • Jepson
  • Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Complex
  • Hemmingson Center
  • Bollier Center

If you spend time in these buildings, make sure to partner with your instructor, RA, or supervisor to make a plan for evacuation. If you need assistance with developing this plan or to arrange for accommodations, contact Human Resources (for employees) or Disability Access (for students.)


Evacuation maps are installed in every major University administrative, academic or residential building. These maps help guide occupants to evacuation routes and contain important information for locating first aid kids and Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs).  Individuals are responsible for ensuring they are familiar with the egress routes from every building that they spend time in.  We encourage everyone to explore their buildings in the first few days of each semester and look for the different exit paths.  Missing or damaged evacuation maps can be reported by opening a work order with Plant Services.  Once outside, building occupants should proceed to their designated safe area and wait for further instructions. These safe gathering areas are listed on the Campus Evacuation Staging Area map.


General Evacuation Q&A

In most cases, buildings at Gonzaga are equipped with visual and audible signals that will flash and sound an alarm tone during an evacuation order. You may also receive instructions to evacuate via a ZagAlert (which can be issued via text, email, or voice mail- click here for more information about ZagAlert) or verbally from an employee or safety official. If you feel it is not safe in your area, you can always decide to take evacuation protective actions without waiting for a formal evacuation order.
Evacuation times vary based on the nature of the emergency.  Stop, look and listen to affirm that you can safely evacuate the area and assess the situation. This will also allow you to use your best judgement on whether you have time to take proactive steps like changing into sturdy shoes, or to execute any specific duties assigned to you. Do not delay your evacuation in order to retrieve belongings or continue your work or study. Plan to be outside the building at the safe evacuation point within a few minutes of the evacuation order. It is important to participate in tests and drills of the evacuation system so you can establish how long you need to safely evacuate your area.
Once outside, building occupants should proceed to their designated safe area and wait for further instructions. These safe gathering areas are listed on the Campus Evacuation Staging Area map. If an individual believes their designated area may not be safe, they should proceed to the next closest safe location on the map and then verify their status with their supervisor, instructor, RA, etc.  Guests and visitors should follow the instructions of their Gonzaga-affiliated host.  If a ZagAlert contains specific information on where to go after evacuating a building, please follow those instructions.
Please take your service or comfort animal with you during an evacuation if you can safely do so.  Make a plan before you move in on how you will safely and quickly transport your comfort animal during an evacuation and practice this in a quiet setting prior to an actual drill or emergency.  Do not re-enter an evacuated building to retrieve a comfort animal or pet. For questions about animals in residence facilities, contact Residence Life. For questions about animals in work environments, contact Human Resources.
Any accidents, injuries, or near miss situations should always be reported as soon as it is safe to do so. Students should log a report to their instructor (if this happens during a class or activity) or RA (for incidents in residence halls.)  Employees should fill out the Accident/Injury or Near Miss form on ZagWeb.
You should always plan accordingly for your day prior to leaving for home, and that includes checking the daily weather report.  Wear or carry weather-appropriate gear with you, or keep it readily accessible at your desk. That way, if you are asked to evacuate during poor weather conditions, you will already have appropriate weather gear with you. Gonzaga will make every effort to relocate displaced individuals out of weather conditions during evacuations, but this can take time. Plan ahead.

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