Emergency Lighting and Emergency Plan Open

16065 Interlake Ave N Shoreline, WA, 98133, USA Show on Map Hide Map
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I was shopping at a Safeway grocery store on 2021.10.25 at approximately 13:00 Hr. when the facility lost electrical power. Upon power loss, the facility became completely dark and no emergency lighting was activated. At the time of the electrical loss, the store was moderately occupied by customers (estimate of 50 to 100 customers). As I recall before the electrical loss, the customer demographic contained a larger portion of older folks than would be during the evening or on weekends; some using walking assistance or wheeled carriers. Shortly after the power loss I proceeded to evacuate and found it very difficult to find my way to an exit in the darkness. As I proceeded, I observed many people fumbling along aisle and no one seemed to know if they should stay put, evacuate, or other. I observed no attempt by store employees to provide assistance, instruction on what to do, portable lighting (flashlight or torch) or manage the emergency. As I made my way carefully toward the store entrance, where there was light from the windows, I observed store employees and persons that identified themselves as management just standing around, seeming to not know what to do-- there was clearly no emergency plan or employee training on how to activate the plan and no emergency equipment such as portable lighting to help customers find their way-- customers were left to fend for themselves. One of the employees that identified as one of several managers on site, and was leaning against a counter engaged in their "smart phone", and did not at all seemed to be concerned about the customers at the back of the store in the darkness, not concerned about communicating with customers or other employees about what to do, or really seeming to take any action at all. I asked the manager about emergency lighting and they said the another manager was checking on why it was not working; the person did not really seem to want to help, no attempt at an emergency response.

Building/ Fire Code Issues:

1. Why was there not working emergency lighting in the facility? Should be emergency lighting that is tested monthly (activation) and annually (90 min. duration). Best practice for this size facility is to have both backup power (generator) and battery powered emergency lights (generally part of the emergency egress signage). IFC SECTION1008

2. Is the City of Shoreline requiring that building owners provide proof of emergency lighting testing and certification? Just asking if there is a system and if it has been tested is not enough. Fire Marshall or other inspectors need to be requesting documentation that describes the emergency lighting system, how it is tested, the results of the periodic testing, and who was responsible for the testing.

3. Are there impactful consequences for failing to provide emergency lighting? Providing, maintaining, and testing emergency lighting is expensive. Why would a building owner comply if there are no impactful consequences (public relations or significant monetary).

4. Does the City of Shoreline require business to have emergency plans and have staff who are trained and competent in executing the plans? There are many emergencies that could be far more sever and hazardous than a loss of power; such as earthquake, mass shootings, fire/ explosion (natural gas leak or fire station across the parking lot). If there is no relevant emergency plan or training on how to execute it and emergency turns into chaos and everyone is fending for them selves.

Fortunately this was a minor emergency and I hope no one was injured or the store was damaged as a result of the systems and operational failure. Although minor, it was no less disturbing and concerning on the lack of emergency preparedness and management. I will add that I know that this lack of emergency preparedness and management is not unique to this Safeway store, but likely the norm for business in the region. This deficiency is a direct result of ineffective code enforcement and consequences for non-compliance.

Safeway Store Location: 17202 15th Ave NE, Shoreline, WA 98155

Please feel free to contact me for additional information.


Michael McCutcheon
Ridgecrest resident

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