Utility Outages

Utility outages (power, water, HVAC, network, telecommunications) occur for various reasons and may be limited to a specific work area or affect a whole building.

What To Expect

  • Lighting. All lights may go out during a power outage except the emergency lighting. The emergency lighting system will allow safe exit from the building. Keep aisles, exits, and entrances clear to avoid tripping hazards. The building emergency team on each floor will have flashlights available. Do not use candles or any other open flame for illumination; this is a fire hazard.
  • Elevators. Avoid using elevators during a power outage. Take the stairs instead. Elevators that are not on emergency power will typically stop where they are when the power goes out. Passengers in elevators during a power outage should remain calm and follow procedures posted in the elevator using emergency phones to call for help.
  • Communications. Telephone systems may not function during a power outage, depending on how widespread the outage is. The telephone system in the building is powered by the emergency generator, but the outage could be the result of internal building issues which would affect the phones.
  • Ventilation. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems will shut down during a power outage and return when power is restored. Lack of ventilation during an outage should not pose a health or safety concern.
  • Security. Electronic locks may revert to default settings during a power outage. Staff will always be able to exit through any door and exit the building, as required by building safety codes. Security cameras and alarm systems have battery backup and are powered by the emergency generator.
  • Fire Alarm Systems. These functions will not be interrupted because these systems have battery backup and are powered by the emergency generator.
  • Emergency Generator. The building has emergency generators for critical building support systems, such as emergency lighting, elevators, fire sprinkler pumps, and fire-life safety systems. The generators will start automatically within moments of a power outage.
  • Parking Structures. The parking garage has emergency lighting, including exit lights to direct people to vehicle and pedestrian exits.
  • Water. Water outages are rare, but they may occur because of external or internal service interruptions. Under certain circumstances, a water outage may require building evacuation for safety and sanitation reasons.

Procedure

  1. If it is determined that an outage will last for more than two hours, staff should prepare to be dismissed, but only if authorized by the NIAID deputy director for science management.
  2. Do not re-enter the outage area unless you are authorized to do so. In certain circumstances, personnel may be required to be escorted for safety reasons.
  3. Staff will be advised when building services have been restored and it is safe to return. Upon returning to their work areas, staff should check all equipment for proper function and reset if necessary.

Power Outage

  1. Check to see whether the outage is confined to your work area or is widespread.
  2. Contact the NIH Office of Research Facilities, 301-425-800, or in 5601 Fishers Lane, contact Office of Workplace Solutions (OWS) at 301-402-8582 or NIAIDBldgFix@niaid.nih.gov.
  3. Be available to talk with a representative from ORF, OWS, or property management.

HVAC Outage

  1. Contact the ORF, 301-425-800, or in 5601 Fishers Lane, contact OWS at 301-402-8582 or NIAIDBldgFix@niaid.nih.gov.
  2. Be available to talk with a representative from ORF, OWS, or property management.

Water Outage

  1. Contact the ORF, 301-425-800, or in 5601 Fishers Lane, contact OWS at 301-402-8582 or NIAIDBldgFix@niaid.nih.gov.
  2. Be available to talk with a representative from ORF, OWS, or property management.
  3. When water is restored, it may be discolored. Allow water to run to clear the water lines, and contact ORF or OWS for guidance.

Network or Telecom Outage

  1. Check to see whether the outage is confined to your work area or is widespread.
  2. Using available means (other telephone, cell phone, etc.), contact the NIAID IT Help Desk at 301-402-2502.
  3. If the problem is localized, stay in your work area to meet with IT staff, who will assist with restoring services. If the problem is widespread, wait for instruction from your supervisor.

Leaving the Workplace

Do not leave the workplace without appropriate authorization from your supervisor. Although utility outages may compromise normal operations, some functions can and should be continued.​​​

Content last reviewed on April 17, 2015