Fire Safety

Fire Drills in Administrative and Academic Buildings 

To comply with state fire safety guidelines and to enhance the safety of the University community, we conduct annual fire drills in administrative and academic buildings.  Be assured these exercises are being conducted in ways that minimize negative impact on the community. We will always try to post a proposed weekly schedule of which buildings drills will occur in during a given week (but not a specific day will be listed) and typically start the annual schedule in the fall semester.

Guidelines for the fire drills can be accessed by clicking the link below. Supervisors and faculty should make sure that students, faculty and staff are aware of expectations and have a general understanding of how these drills will be conducted. All faculty, staff and students will be required to evacuate buildings during these drills.

For questions, comments or concerns, please contact the Fire Safety Officer with Department of Emergency Management and Safety, Gregory Rose, at or 654-2096.

 UMW Administrative and Academic Building Fire Drill Guidelines


Fire Safety at UMW

Fire Safety at The University of Mary Washington is a primary function of The Office of Emergency Management and Safety and the responsibility of all faculty, staff and students. The purpose of our fire safety programs and initiatives are for the protection of life and property. Fire can be a devastating experience and the best way to protect all is by preventing them from occurring in the first place. Educating, training, and informing students, faculty, and staff will be the most effective way to accomplish these objectives. All employees and students should review the Fire Safety Plan.

Student Fire Marshal Program

The University of Mary Washington enjoys one of the most extensive Student Fire Marshal programs in the state. There is a Campus Fire Marshal working within The Emergency Management and Safety Department that is responsible for the overall management of the program. Also, there is a designated Student Fire Marshal in each Residence Hall at UMW. This position is a Senior Resident Assistant position. All Student Fire Marshals receive training in fire extinguisher use, evacuation procedure, fire safety awareness and fire alarm system operation.

A Student Fire Marshal’s duties include:

Extinguisher Inspection: Fire extinguishers are inspected monthly as required by NFPA. Inspection reports are filed with the Campus Fire Marshal and the Emergency Management and Safety Office.

Building / Room Inspection: Periodic inspection of public areas and resident rooms to ensure that no fire hazards or other unsafe conditions exist. Report any discrepancies to the appropriate department. Report any fire or life safety issues to Emergency Management and Safety immediately.

Fire Drills: Coordinate and conduct three fire drills per semester in accordance with the Student Fire Marshal handbook. Report success/failure to each fire drill to the Campus Fire Marshal and to Emergency Management and Safety Office.

Information Resource: Ensure that each resident understands evacuation procedures, fire extinguisher operation and fire safety issues.

Fire Drills in Residence Halls

Fire drills are conducted in each University Residence Hall in accordance with The Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code.  Three successful drills will be conducted each semester. Drills must be conducted between the hours of  1:00 am and 6:00 am, 6:00 am and 6:00 pm , and 6:00 pm and 1:00 am. These drills will be conducted  between the start of the semester and fall break. Drills for the spring semester will conducted between the start of the semester and spring break. Drills will be supervised by Complex Fire Marshals and may also be observed by staff from this office (Emergency Management and Safety Director, The Campus Fire Safety Officer, and/or The Campus Fire Marshal). We are looking for these drills to be successful and occupants to safely evacuate the buildings in a reasonable amount of time. Some other general guidelines that will be used to evaluate Residence Hall Fire Drills will be:

  • Residence Halls must be evacuated in less than 5 minutes
  • Occupants should be wearing proper weather attire and have shoes on
  • Room checks will be conducted by Residence Hall Staff to determine whether residents evacuated the building.
  • Students are to assemble at the designated marshaling point, which should generally be 50 feet from the building, not in areas where emergency vehicles may stage, and that no student leaves the marshaling point without authorization from Residence Hall Staff.


Many may choose to use decorations for holidays, dances, and events or just to make residence halls feel more like home. This includes longer term holiday decorations, as well as short term events, such as birthdays. For those organizations holding events where extensive decorating will occur or where any kind of flame producing item, you must consult with The UMW Office of Emergency Management and Safety prior to your event. Please note that that this set of policies and procedures applies for all administrative buildings and residence halls.  Please be sure to abide by the following guidelines for decorating.

  1.  Absolutely no indoor pyrotechnics, fog machines, or flame producing items – both in and out of doors. This includes tiki torches!
  2. Natural trees are prohibited in the student rooms and in areas of public assembly areas where 50 or more people gather for a purpose).
  3. Corn stalks, leaves, and hay are prohibited for use as decorations due to their combustible nature. Other natural materials such as pumpkins, squash, and gourds are permitted
  4. Artificial trees need care in selection and handling. Plastic trees can burn. Use the type clearly marked as made from slow burning materials. Those with built-in electrical systems should carry the Underwriter’s label (UL). Metal trees maybe a shock hazard. Use only indirect lighting with them. If lighting strings are placed on a metal tree, the tree may become electrically charged. Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
  5. Use noncombustible decorating materials (metal, glass, etc.). Untreated cotton batting, flock and paper ignite easily and may burn intensely. Use only flame-retardant or noncombustible materials for costumes and decorations. Crepe paper and streamers used for decorations must be labeled as “fire-proof” or “flame-proof”. Be sure to read the label before you buy the material. Plastic bags and plastic sheeting may not be used for decorating – this material is very combustible!
  6. Keep exit corridors and doors free of decorations. Their use in these areas could cause confusion and make exiting dangerous in emergency situations.
  7. Cover no more than 10% of any available wall space with decorations. Do not block or cover fire alarm pull stations, emergency lights, exit lights, hose and extinguisher cabinets, or any part of the sprinkler system. Regular corridor lighting must not be completely covered. Keep decorations at least ten feet from exit doors.
  8. Items shall not hang from ceilings, on/from heating and sprinkler system piping. There must be 24 in.  clearance from ceilings and 18 in. clearance on sprinkler heads.
  9. Corridors must not be “wall-papered” with combustible materials. Combustible decorations are not permitted in stairwells.
  10. Do not string decorations down corridor ceilings. They can act as fuses should they become ignited.
  11. The use of lighted candles or any open flame device is not permitted in residence halls. Safe alternatives include flashlights and battery operated candles.
  12. Because of their combustible nature, the following materials may not be used for decorating: corn stalks, leaves, and hay. Other natural materials such as pumpkins, squash, and gourds are permitted.
  13. Electrical decorations should be UL listed. Equipment should be checked for frayed cords, loose connections and broken sockets. They should be unplugged when you leave your room or before you go to sleep.
  14. Make sure all indoor and outdoor holiday lights are UL listed. In residence halls, only indoor “cool lighting” is permitted. The number of strands of lighting connected together is limited to the manufacturer’s recommendations (no more than 2-3 strands). These should not be strung in any fashion where the cords can become frayed, such as being wrapped where the cords are wrapped between the metal bedding frame and the mattress.
  15. If an electrical appliance smokes or has an unusual smell, unplug it immediately and have it serviced.
  16. Replace any electrical cord that is cracked or frayed.

Useful Links

Residence Life Prohibited Items List may be found at

FEMA Campus Fire Safety: Tips for Students and Parents at


Contact us for additional Fire Safety Information

You may contact us via this web form or call us at 540-654-2108 for additional fire safety information here at UMW