The Safety Center

Building Evacuation/General Building Safety

In the event of a a fire or other emergency that requires you to evacuate the building, you must exit the building via one of the two stairwells. These stairwells go directly down to the lobby level of the building (see diagram below).

The following Q&A addresses specific questions you might have about building evacuation and other Life Safety issues at 35 W Wacker. 

Q: How will I know that the building is being evacuated?

A: You will hear an announcement over the building’s Public Address system.

Q: Will I be able to hear the Public Address system no matter where I am on a floor?

A: If you are in a restroom, you will hear the alarm, but may not be able to hear the Public Address system clearly. Please proceed quickly out of the restroom and out to the floor to hear specific instructions over the public address system. Safety teams will always check the restrooms in the event of an emergency.

Q: Can we use the elevators to evacuate during a fire?

A: No. Use the stairwells. Listen for additional instructions over the Public Address system. In any other emergency, you will be notified of the safest way to exit the building. However, if you feel remaining in the building puts your safety at risk, exit in an orderly fashion.

Q: Do all the doors unlock in the event of a fire or an emergency evacuation?

A: All stairwell and glass doors will automatically unlock. 

Q: What happens if I am in an elevator during a fire or in a power outage?

A: The elevators will first come to a stop and then automatically descend to the lobby level.

Q: How many stairwells are there in the building? Where are they located?

A: There are two stairwells that lead to lobby level from each floor. Stairwell A is located in the main corridor at the northeast corner. Stairwell B is located in the main corridor at the southwest corner (see floorplans)

Q: How do I know if it is safe to exit through a stairwell?

A: First, feel the door for heat. If the door is hot, DO NOT open it. Proceed to the other stairwell. In the event BOTH doors are hot, stay on your floor and wait for further directions from the Fire Department. The stairwell doors are "fire rated" which means they are designed to prevent the spread of fire.

Q: What if there is smoke in the stairwell when I open the door?

A: Shut the door. Proceed to and check the other stairwell. In the event there is smoke in BOTH stairwells, stay on your floor and wait for further directions from the Fire Department.

Q: Is there a sprinkler system in the building?

A: Yes, they are located in the ceiling at 15-ft. intervals. There is at least one sprinkler in each private office and in the conference rooms.

Q: How many fire extinguishers are there on each floor?

A: There are four fire extinguishers on each typical floor. Floors 2,3,16 and 17 are smaller sized floors. There are three fire extinguishers on these floors. See the floor plan for exact locations.

Q: What if the building loses power?

A: All doors will automatically unlock. The elevators will stop. The emergency generator will turn on and bring the elevators down to lobby level. Emergency lighting will illuminate stairwells, exit signs and numerous areas on each floor.

Q: What should I do if I have a condition, either temporary or permanent, which may impact my ability to be aware of an emergency situation or to evacuate the building?

A: If this is the case, please alert Claudia Hicks ( at the onset of your condition. This information will be held in strict confidence shared only with crisis team members. Should your condition change, let Claudia know.

Q: In an emergency, would the use of a cell phone interfere with the emergency communications systems?

A: No.

Q: What do I do if someone needs immediate medical assistance?

A: If you have access to a Burnett phone, dial 1111. If you have a cell phone, dial (312) 220-1111. If you are in a stairwell, use the 2-way intercom system located in the stairwells to communicate with the security console located in the building lobby.

Q: Does the Wacker Drive construction impede our ability to evacuate the building.

A: No.

Q: What if I have more questions about Life Safety in our building?

A: We want to hear from you! Please e-mail any additional questions to Claudia Hicks.