Proposed New ASTM International Homeland Security Standard to Provide Preparedness Plans for Schools

The mass murder at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in 1999 brought the subject of school security into the U.S. national spotlight and subsequent events, including other school-related incidents and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have kept it there. A proposed new ASTM International standard will help schools and school districts prepare for and mitigate against both large-scale natural and man-caused disaster, as well as isolated violent events that occur within schools.

The proposed standard, WK8908, Guide for School Preparedness and All Hazard Response, is currently being developed by a task group in Subcommittee E54.02 on Emergency Preparedness, Training and Procedures, which is under the jurisdiction of ASTM International Committee E54 on Homeland Security Applications. WK8908 will do the following:

  • Cover the concepts, principles and best practices for all-hazards integrated emergency management programs in preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery for schools and school districts in preparation and response to a natural or man-caused incident;
  • Address the essential elements of the scope, planning, structure, application and integration of federal, state, local volunteer and non-governmental organizations and resources necessary to facilitate interoperability and seamless participation by response agencies both inside and outside the school/district;
  • Provide a common operating terminology for the school environment in both emergency management and continuity of operations planning; and,
  • Provide a framework for school/district leadership that is consistent with the National Incident Management System, the National Response Plan and provides guidance for synchronization with local county and state emergency operations plans.

"Like healthcare preparedness that preceded it, schools are one of the two ’magic bubbles’ where we seem to think our children are somehow divinely protected when we put them on the bus each day," said Craig Marks, chair of the task group working on WK8908. "We have infrastructure that is in some cases over 100 years old, and built in a time, and in a manner, for the era when chewing gum was the major crime on campus. Today, we have to appreciate that natural disasters are on the rise, as is crime, in and around school campuses."

All interested parties are invited to participate in the development of WK8908.

For further technical information, contact Craig Marks, Blue Horizons Consulting, Lillington, N.C. (phone: 910/893-2556; Committee E54 will meet Feb. 6-8, at February Committee Week in Phoenix, Ariz. For membership or meeting details, contact Pat Picariello, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9720;


Release #7306

January 1, 2006