If you discover or suspect a fire:
- Contact an R.C. in the building. If an alarm fails to operate, warn the other occupants by knocking on doors and shouting a warning.
- Call the Department of Security. Give as much information as possible to the Officer. Don’t assume that someone else has called. Security will notify the Fire Department and give the address location of the building.
- Leave the building immediately. When Firefighters arrive, direct them to the fire.
In the event of fire:
When you have been alerted by an alarm of fire, proceed as follows:
- Keep low to the floor if smoke is in your room.
- Before opening the door.
- Feel the door handle. If it is hot, do not open the door.
- If the handle is not hot, brace yourself against the door and open it slightly (fire can create pressure enough to push open a door if it is not held firmly). If heat or heavy smoke is present in the corridor, close the door and stay in the room.
- If you cannot leave the room:
- Open the windows.
- Seal cracks around the door with towels or bed clothing to keep out smoke.
- To attract attention if you are trapped, hang an object out the window, such as a sheet, jacket, shirt, or anything that will attract attention. Shout for help.
- If you can leave the room:
- Close all doors behind you as you exit. This will retard the spread of smoke and lessen damage.
- Go to the nearest exit or stairway. Do not use an elevator.
- If the means of egress is blocked by smoke, heat, or fire, go to an alternate exit. If all means of egress from a floor are blocked, go back to your room, close the door, open the windows and follow the procedure described above.
- After leaving the building, stand clear. Emergency apparatus will be maneuvering around the building. Follow directions of Fire, Security, and Police personnel.
Fire drills in residence halls are required by law and are conducted to familiarize the building occupants with the sound of the fire alarm, the emergency exits, and the procedures for evacuating the building. All occupants of the building are required to respond to the drill and to abide by the procedures established. Before you spend a night in any building, make it a point to find out where the exits are. Don’t consider elevators as a means of egress. Plan two routes of escape in case your primary means of egress is blocked by smoke or fire.
Although these exercises may seem a nuisance to some, in many instances, victims of fire have hidden in closets when a safe exit was only across the room. Victims have been found under beds and crouched in shower stalls. Perhaps if these people had been more familiar with escape routes, or had not delayed escape, they would not have died.
The Building’s Safety Features
- Stairway doors must be kept closed at all times. If the doors are open during a fire, stairways can act as chimneys and spread fire and smoke throughout the building. If doors are kept closed, the stairways will provide a place of refuge and will protect you while you escape from the building. It is most important that stairway doors be kept closed at night, when people are asleep and detection of a fire is likely to be delayed.
- Each means of egress should be clearly marked with signs, which should make it obvious from any area of a building which way to go to get to an exit.
- Fire alarm systems provide a rapid means of notifying all occupants of a building that an emergency exists. Abuse of these systems results in a complacent attitude among building occupants, which may someday result in injury or loss of life when the alarm is ignored in an actual emergency situation. The best defense against malicious false alarms is an immediate, and strong, peer group reaction.
- Fire extinguishers should be used only after the alarm has been sounded and Security notified by telephone. Then, only if you feel capable, a small incipient fire may be attacked by use of an extinguisher. Don’t expose yourself to heavy smoke. The toxic gases in smoke can render you unconscious in a few seconds. Even if the fire is quickly extinguished, call Security. If a fire extinguisher is discharged for any reason, accidentally or otherwise, do not put it back in its cabinet or hanger. Call the Department of Security immediately to have it replaced.
- Elevators must not be used during a fire or drill. It will delay your exiting. Also, experience has shown that smoke and heat often cause elevators to malfunction and stop at the fire floor and doors to open automatically, exposing the passengers to intense heat and smoke.
Typical Hazards to be Avoided
- Smoking. For decades careless smoking has been one of the major causes of fire. IMSA rules prohibits the use of tobacco products by students. Overloading Electrical Circuits. Use of electrical “octopuses” to obtain a maximum number of outlets can result in overloaded circuits. Electrical Appliances. IMSA rules prohibits the use of heat producing appliances, such as irons, hot plates, coffee makers etc., in residence hall rooms by students.
- Open Flame Sources. Use of candles, incense, bottled gas appliances, and the like, is prohibited in residence hall rooms. Rubbish and Storage. All rubbish should be disposed of as soon as possible. Surplus materials should be stored in the proper storage rooms or areas.
- Flammable Liquids. Gasoline, alcohol or other flammable liquids must not be brought into residential buildings.
Protect Yourself and your Possessions
Defective or missing fire protection and safety equipment should be reported to the Department of Security. If the deficiencies are not corrected within a reasonable time, a second call is in order. Be alert. Your safety depends mostly on your own attitude and actions. Play it cool.