Student Fire Safety
The University of Vermont is committed to the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and visitors. All on-campus residence halls are equipped with automatic fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, carbon monoxide detection, and cooking fire suppression systems.
For more information on fire safety in our residence halls, please see Student Housing Fire Safety Report (PDF).
All students are strongly encouraged to sign up for UVM's CatAlert emergency notification system. In the event of an emergency, voice, text, and e-mail notifications will be sent to all devices which have been registered. For more information about emergency management at UVM, and to sign up for CatAlert notifications, visit CatAlert Emergency Notification.
Fire Safety for Students Living On Campus:
Certain items are prohibited in UVM residence halls. These items include, but are not limited to:
- most cooking appliances
- flammable liquids and other hazardous materials
- multi plug electrical adapters
- halogen lamps
For further information, please see the Department of Residential Life Fire Safety
Fire Safety for Students Living Off-Campus:
Since January 2000, Campus Firewatch has documented 175 campus-related fire deaths with 87% of them occurring in off-campus housing and 6% in Fraternity or Sorority housing.
Common factors seen in a number of these fatal fires include:
- Missing or disabled smoke alarms
- Lack of automatic fire sprinklers
- Careless disposal of smoking materials
- Impaired judgment from alcohol leading to ignition or inability to escape the fire
- Upholstered furniture on porches or decks contributing to the fire
In addition to the above factors, unattended cooking and unattended candles are common hazards in off-campus housing.
If you are planning to move off campus, check out UVM Office of Student and Community Relations for more resources.
Workplace Fire Safety
Ten things you should know
- In the event of a fire alarm, all occupants are required to leave the building. The UVM Fire Safety Policy (PDF) applies to all faculty, staff, and students.
- UVM employees are not required to attempt to fight fires. Fire extinguishers are available in all UVM buildings for use by those employees who have been trained. More information on fire extinguisher training below.
- Automatic sprinkler systems require 18" of clearance in order to be effective. Never block sprinkler heads, pile stored items too close, or hang anything from sprinkler heads or sprinkler pipes. More information below under Fire Safety Equipment.
- Extension cords and multi-plugs are not to be used in place of permanent wiring. Power strips with surge protectors and circuit interruption should be used for electronic equipment, but never "daisy-chained" together (power strip plugged into another power strip.) If you need more outlets, fill out an on line service request through FAMIS.
- Space heaters are strongly discouraged at UVM for fire safety and energy management reasons. More information below under Fire Safety Equipment
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- Only designated areas can be used for storage. Do not use machine, electrical, or transformer rooms for storage. These areas are prime places for fires and explosions.
- Risk Management and Safety staff works with local fire department officials to complete inspections of buildings on UVM’s campus. They check that fire protection systems are in good working condition, check storage and look for impediments to egress with a goal of keeping all campus buildings in compliance with National Fire Protection Association standards (NFPA).
All work in or on buildings involving heat, sparks, or open flames requires a hot work permit, available through the UVM Physical Plant Department. Designated hot work areas are exempt from the permit requirement but are subject to monthly inspections.
Fire Safety Equipment
University of Vermont buildings are equipped with a variety of fire protection systems. These systems provide for the safety of the occupants, and tampering with these systems is a civil or criminal offense.
Automatic Sprinkler Systems
Sprinkler systems are made up of pipes which deliver water under pressure, usually concealed in the building's walls and ceilings. Sprinkler heads are the systems' discharge nozzles, each equipped with a thermally sensitive mechanism to detect fire and operate that individual sprinkler head. When the sprinkler head reaches a predetermined temperature, the nozzle opens and water flows on to the fire.
Sprinkler systems are on duty 24/7, and do not require any action by the occupants or responders to work. A sprinkler head will extinguish or contain a fire with less than 10% of the water of a single fire hose, reducing the flame, smoke and water damage and saving lives. Fire sprinklers have been around for more than a century. All of UVM's on campus residence halls are equipped with automatic fire sprinkler systems.
- To avoid accidental sprinkler activation, do not hang items from sprinkler heads.
- Never store or place items within 18" of the plane below sprinkler heads or water may not reach a fire.
Fire Alarm Systems
Fire alarm systems can detect smoke, heat, carbon monoxide, water flow in a sprinkler system. They can be automatically activated through a control system or manually activated with a fire alarm pull station.
Fire alarm systems alert building occupants to a fire and/or other emergencies and summon help. They can also automatically close fire doors, control mechanical equipment such as air handling units, and operate special fire suppression systems.
Whenever a fire alarm sounds, assume there is a real emergency and evacuate the building immediately.
- Tampering with fire alarm systems is a violation of University policy and may be punishable as a civil or criminal offense.
Carbon Monoxide Detection
Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced during combustion processes. All sleeping areas at the University of Vermont are provided with carbon monoxide detection. In the residence halls high carbon monoxide levels will cause activation of the building fire alarm system, evacuating the building and automatically notifying emergency responders. Non-residential areas where fuel burning equipment is present are provided with local carbon monoxide alarms.
University of Vermont buildings are equipped with portable fire extinguishers. It is important to know how to use a fire extinguisher before a fire happens. Fire extiniguisher training will teach you how to effectively use an extinguisher without jeopardizing your own safety.
While the online Fire Safety Training can be done at any time, hands-on fire extinguisher training is generally provided between April and October since it is held outside. Fire safety training is a pre-requisite to hands-on Fire Extinguisher training.
Space Heater Guidelines
Due to the risk of fire and the adverse costs and effects of increased energy use, portable space heaters are strongly discouraged in UVM buildings. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters are associated with 21,800 fires and 300 deaths annually.
Guidelines for Use of Space Heaters in UVM Buildings
The use of portable space heaters in residence halls is strictly prohibited. The use of any portable heater that is fueled by kerosene, propane, or that produces an open flame is strictly prohibited.
Appropriate adjustment of the building heating system should always be the preferred option. If minimum workspace temperature is not being provided, please call Physical Plant SOS at (802) 656-2560 and press “1.”
Space heaters should only be used if target temperatures cannot be maintained, for specific health reasons, or other extenuating circumstances. Deans, Chairs, and Department Heads are responsible for ensuring that these guidelines are followed.
Safe Use of Space Heaters
- Read and follow manufacturer's operating instructions, and ensure everyone who may operate it knows how to do so safely.
- The heater must be electrically powered and designated as approved with a nationally recognized testing laboratory mark [common marks include Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or FM Global Technologies (FM)].
- A number of space heaters have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission due to overheating, shorting, or other hazards that increases the risk of a fire. Check the CPSC webpage to ensure your space heater has not been recalled (http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/).
- The space heater must have a thermostat for heat regulation. Heaters without thermostats (e.g. simple "on/off" or "high/low" switches) are not permitted.
- Space heaters must have a tip-over shutdown feature. If the heater is knocked over, the unit must automatically shut off.
- Space heaters must have overheat protection, which will automatically shut the unit off if there is an overheat situation.
- The heater may only be located on the floor. Heaters located on filing cabinets, tables, desks, or other surfaces are more susceptible to being knocked over, resulting in accidents or fires.
- Heaters may only be placed on circuits capable of handling the amperage draw of the heater and other equipment on the circuit.
- Heaters may not be used in areas where flammable liquids are in use or stored.
- Keep the heater away from water and out of damp locations.
- Maintain a minimum clearance of three (3) feet from any combustible materials including furniture, files, boxes, or clothing.
- Inspect the heater for broken or damaged parts. Never operate a heater you suspect is damaged.
- Heaters must be plugged directly into a wall receptacle (outlet). Use of extension cords or power strips is not allowed. Electric cords must be kept out of foot traffic paths to prevent tipping.
- Never run the heater's cord under doors, rugs, or carpeting. This can damage the cord, causing it and nearby objects to burn.
The heater must be turned off and unplugged any time the room or area being heated is unoccupied, especially at the end of the workday.
Barry J. Simays, Certified Fire Protection Specialist, Certified Fire Inspector I
University Fire Marshal
Department of Risk Management and Safety
284 East Avenue
Burlington, VT 05405
Phone: (802) 656-8249