Building Incident Response Team (BIRT)

In an effort to promote coordinated emergency response actions, the University of Michigan has launched the Building Incident Response Team (BIRT) program. The BIRT program has been developed by the U-M Emergency Management in concert with the U-M Police Department, using best practices from emergency first response disciplines. This program has already been successfully adopted by the College of Literature, Arts, and Sciences, Law School, Dental School, School of Social Work, School of Information, Rackham Graduate School, and the North Campus Research Complex.

Building Incident Response Teams are typically be led by facilities personnel and be made up of faculty and staff from groups throughout the building. Participation in BIRT may be voluntary or required depending on the unit and position. Team leaders will be appointed as BIRT Liaisons, who will be expected to interface with Emergency First Responders and coordinate the volunteer BIRT Members. Together, BIRT Liaisons and BIRT Members will assist in quickly evacuating buildings due to a fire condition or directing people to shelter in the event of severe weather.

Participants never will be expected to place themselves in any danger; rather, they will be an essential link in the safety chain. The BIRT program relies on its members being familiar with their immediate area, being familiar with evacuation procedures, maintaining a calm demeanor in an emergency, and assisting emergency first responders identify individuals requiring special assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

If we now have a floor marshal program why do we need BIRT?
BIRT enhances the floor marshal program by providing a liaison to the emergency first responder e.g. U-M Police and Ann Arbor FD, which addresses the gap found in past incidents related to coordination, communication and chain of command. In addition, BIRT also provides response preparation, a hierarchical structure for command and control, and guidance on the fundamentals of the Incident Command System.

How much time is involved in being a BIRT Member?
Depends. BIRT requires a commitment to attend team meetings for the purpose of training and exercising. A BIRT Member will also respond to assist during a building incident as the need arises.

Someone will not comply with protective actions (such as evacuating). What do I do now?
Compliance and accountability are important in making the BIRT program a success. BIRT members, who encounter non-compliance, should move on with their assigned duties and report the issue to the BIRT Liaison for follow-up action as soon as it is safe to do so.

What are my core responsibilities?
Core responsibilities for a BIRT Member are to lead emergency response actions and follow directions from the BIRT Liaison and first responders. This means call 911 to report the incident, notify building occupants of the incident and what actions to take (i.e. evacuate, shelter in place). It may also involve securing a building perimeter to prevent anyone from entering at the direction of first responders.

How do I know when to activate?
The BIRT Liaison will notify BIRT Members when it is necessary to activate for an incident response. Team contact information will be included in an email list. Communication methods may vary between buildings and specifics for each location will be discussed in the training session.

Will I be held liable for something that I do while acting as a BIRT Member?
The University of Michigan provides general liability insurance coverage for volunteers acting within the course of their duties and acting within the scope of their training and ability.

What kind of training will I receive to be a BIRT Member? Is the training mandatory?
Training is mandatory. The initial BIRT training will cover a wide selection of topics involving incident response. Team meetings will also provide up-to-date information related to any building construction, emergency protocol changes and pending building events.

In a building with several units, should each unit have its own BIRT?
No. BIRT members are assigned via buildings and floors irrespective of departments/units. This helps to ensure a coordinated incident response and promote the sharing of information with all necessary parties involved.

If our building connects to another building do the Teams need to interact with each other?
Yes. An incident may not just affect one area or building, so it is important for teams to interact / train with one another. If an incident occurs in one area or building, a nearby area or building may be a designated staging, shelter or evacuation site.

How is a building that sees after-hours use impacted by BIRT?
Many facilities on campus operate after normal business hours for special events or classes. To ensure consistency in response operations, the BIRT Liaison should provide individuals such as faculty and special events coordinators with a briefing of emergency response procedures. In addition, individuals operating buildings after hours should have contact information for the BIRT Liaison for the purpose of emergency communication.

Please contact Emergency Management for further questions.