Fire Safety

Throughout the year, Risk Management offers training and education programs in general fire safety and in the use of fire extinguishers. Departments in need of fire safety training can call Risk Management at 656-3242.

In addition, each year, from May through October, Risk Management staff works with local fire department officials to complete inspections of buildings on UVM’s campus. They check that fire protections systems are in good working condition, with a goal of keeping all campus buildings in compliance with National Fire Protection Association standards (NFPA). University policy requires all staff, students and visitors to evacuate a building whenever a fire
alarm sounds. All employees should be familiar with the sound of the alarm in their building. If an employee has a disability that may hinder rapid departure from a building, they must report this to their supervisor and fellow workers so that necessary evacuation procedures can be devised. Supervisors must inform all employees working with a disabled individual of any special procedures in place so that co-workers are prepared to assist him/her in the event of fire or any other emergency.

Rooms and doorways must remain free of obstruction and debris; all items to be discarded should be disposed of properly and not stored in hallways. Bicycles should be parked in designated racks outside buildings. All such items can hinder a safe evacuation should a fire occur. Fire doors prevent the spread of fire and smoke. Fire doors at stairwells and in corridors should be kept closed at all times unless held open by the door’s magnetic device. This device will release automatically when a fire alarm sounds. Therefore, fire doors should never be blocked open or otherwise tampered with. Supervisors should make sure that all employees become familiar with exits nearest their work area and the location of the fire pull alarm.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguisher training is available to all departments through the Fire Marshal at the Risk Management Department. Contact him at 656-8249 to request it.

Fire extinguishers in campus buildings are inspected monthly and annually by UVM’s Physical Plant Department. If you notice that a fire extinguisher has been discharged, is missing or has been vandalized, call or place a work order online to Service Operations Support. SOS should also be contacted if a fire extinguisher does not have a current inspection tag.

Always call UVM Police Services for help with ANY FIRE at 656-3473. Only fires the size of a wastepaper basket should be fought with a fire extinguisher by those with training. Employees should never endanger their own safety by trying to put out a fire, even a small one.

Appendix C in the Risk Management Handbook lists the types and usage of fire extinguishers found on UVM’s campus and how to properly use a fire extinguisher.

Halon Extinguishing Systems

Halon extinguishing systems exist in the computer and phone switch rooms in Waterman, Southwick and Votey to protect electronic equipment. Halon is a gas that extinguishes fire by inhibiting the chemical reaction of fuel and oxygen. The system is activated by heat sensors that sound an alarm. After a prescribed interval (30 to 90 seconds), Halon is then automatically discharged into the area. (The discharge sequence can be interrupted during this interval in the event of a false alarm or malfunction) All personnel should be out of the area at the time of discharge since Halon itself presents certain health hazards. As with any fire, UVM Police Services must be notified when the alarm sounds. Employees working in these areas should know what procedures to follow in the event of an alarm. Supervisors are responsible for having this information available to employees in that area.

Since 1994, Halon is no longer being manufactured because of its ozone depleting properties. The University is exploring options to replace its existing Halon systems with a new product or a wet system.

Fire Protection Systems

Most University buildings are equipped with pull stations and audible/visual building alarm systems. A few of the smaller buildings on campus are equipped with smoke detectors only. Some buildings are equipped with sprinkler systems activated by heat sensors. In these buildings, stacked materials must not obstruct or limit the effectiveness of sprinkler heads and must provide for at least an eighteen inch clearance from the sprinkler head or ceiling. Newer buildings and all residence halls (by 2005) are equipped with a combination of heat sensors and smoke detectors which, when activated, trigger the building alarms system.

Some campus buildings have generators and emergency lighting to provide electrical power and illumination in the event that the main power supply fails.

The University is continually upgrading these systems in an effort to provide effective emergency protection in all of its buildings on the campus. Supervisors should be sure to acquaint employees with the particular equipment in their building so that all are prepared for an
emergency. Employees can contact their supervisor or Risk Management with any questions. To report any problems or malfunctions in these systems, contact Service Operations Systems at 656-2560.