Chapter 2 : Fire Safety


The best defense against a fire is to prevent a fire from starting in the first place. Even under optimal circumstances, fires do occur. When prevention is compromised other timely and efficient mechanisms for response is critical to prevent injury and loss.

There are a number of things all employees and students can do to be well prepared for fire emergencies:

  • Be Prepared
  • Know Exit Routes – Know exit routes from your office or residential room, the floor and the building in which it is located.
  • Know Fire Extinguisher Locations – Know where the closest fire extinguishers are located in proximity to your working or living area.
  • Emergency Numbers – Make sure you know your emergency numbers. The University recommends that emergency numbers be affixed to all telephones. Emergency numbers are posted in all work areas.
  • Review your Building Emergency Action Plan (BEAP).



The Fire Prevention Plan is designed to inform employees and students about major fire hazards, what systems are available on campus to fight fires, and give notice of policies and procedures to follow to avoid fires. This plan also serves as notice to VOSH and OSHA as to what the University does to prevent fires.

  1. Fire Detection Equipment:
    1. Fire Alarm Systems: All systems are tested and inspected semi-annually. They are updated and tested for sensitivity as well as adequate sound levels (10db above ambient). All systems report into Campus Police where they are monitored 24/7 by UMW Police Dispatch.
    2. Smoke Detectors: Hard-wired smoke detectors are located in all residence hall rooms. All 120V/Battery backup-type detectors are inspected semiannually along with all Fire Alarm Systems. Batteries are changed in the detectors once a year during summer break.
    3. Fire Suppression Equipment: UMW is equipped with fire sprinkler suppression systems in some buildings. For a complete list of buildings protected by an automatic sprinkler system, contact the Office of Emergency Management and Safety (OEMS). All suppression systems are maintained in accordance with current codes by on-site staff who have been properly trained in the inspection, testing, and maintenance of those systems. They are upgraded accordingly during renovation and remodeling. All fire extinguishers on campus are inspected monthly by in house personnel and serviced annually. Training is held annually on proper usage of fire extinguishers.


  1. Housekeeping Procedures for Managing Flammable and Combustible Waste Materials:
    1. Good housekeeping is the most visible, day-to-day concern for Health and Safety. A sense of order in the living and working environments contribute to Health and Safety by minimizing obstacles and potential risks such as fire, spills, and trip hazards.
    2. Means of Egress: Areas of egress, such as halls, doorways, passageways, stairwells, and corridors must remainder clear of all obstructions.
    3. Mechanical Rooms: Mechanical rooms must not be used for storage and must be clear of debris and other hazards.
    4. Flammable Liquids: Flammable liquids are not permitted inside any occupied building. This includes, but not limited to gasoline, propane, kerosene, paint thinner, charcoal lighter, or any lighter fluid.
    5. Chimneys and Fireplaces: There is not to be any fireplaces used on campus, with the exception of Brompton.
    6. Fire Doors: A fire door serves as a barrier to limit the spread of fire and restrict movement of smoke. All doors leading into stairwells or hallways are fire rated doors. Fire doors are self-latching and self-closing and must be maintained in proper working order. They must not be chained or propped open. They must always be free of wedges or blocking devices. Fire doors are rated between 20 minutes and 3 hours, this rating indicates how long the door assembly can withstand heat and, in some cases, the stream of a water hose.


  1. Miscellaneous Fire Hazards and Devices: There are several devices that are restricted and prohibited for various reasons or require special indications or permission.
    1. Candles: Candles are NOT permitted in any rooms or offices at any time.
    2. Cooking: Hot plates, toasters, toaster ovens, microwaves, electric grills, and coffee pots are not permitted in residential rooms. Office areas may have a general area designated to be a break area with microwave, coffee pot, toasters, and toaster ovens. Designated office custodians are to check areas at the end of each day.
    3. Portable (Space) Heaters: Open coil heaters are not permitted on campus. Closed loop, oil type are acceptable.
    4. Incense, Potpourri, Glade Plug-In Style Air Fresheners, and Halogen Lamps: These items are not permitted in any campus building.
    5. Light Fixtures: Nothing should ever be hung from any light fixture, nor should the light bulbs exceed the recommended wattage for the fixture.
    6. Wall Outlets: Wall outlets should never be overloaded.
    7. Hair Dryers: Small appliances should be used away from all water sources and shall have self-contained circuit interrupter. Curling irons, electric rollers, irons must be turned off when leaving the room.
    8. Seasonal Decorations: Decorations made of paper or other flammable material are not permitted in campus buildings. All decorations made of combustible material including window curtains must have a flame-retardant application applied to it by the manufacture. This documentation must be retained.
    9. Explosives/ Ordinance: Materials such as guns, ammunition, fireworks, black powder, and pyrodex are not permitted in any campus building.
    10. Oil Lamps: Oil lamps are not permitted to be used or stored in campus buildings.
    11. Sprinkler Heads/Pipes: Nothing may be hung from sprinkler pipes in any campus buildings with exposed systems. Nothing may be hung from sprinkler heads in any campus building at any time.
    12. Extension Cords: The use of extension cords is for temporary functions and duties only. Types 12/2 are the only type to be used. No students or employees are to have any electrical cords of any kind under rugs. Surge protectors are the only acceptable devices for extension purposes. No cords with fractured insulation or exposed wires should ever be used and are to be discarded immediately.
    13. Smoking: Smoking by employees or the public is prohibited in all buildings on campus, as well as all campus owned or leased vehicles. Smoking is permitted in specific areas on campus. E-Cig and Vaping Devices are considered the same as Smoking per this policy, and the same guidelines apply for those devices.
    14. Fire Lanes: A fire lane is an area that is designated by a yellow or red painted curb and shall never be blocked or obstructed. Campus Police enforces tickets and towing of vehicles in violation of this policy.
    15. Fire Hydrants: Never park within 15 feet of a hydrant in any direction, as this may be subject to the same actions as Fire Lanes.


  1. Fire Drills: It is important for employees and students to know how to react to a fire emergency when they occur. All buildings are subject to fire drills at any time. Fire drills are a proactive approach that allows employees and students to experience building evacuations under a controlled environment. It allows for campus safety officials to identify problems that may occur under real life situations.
    1. Responsibility: The Office of Emergency Management & Safety, the Department of Public Safety, Fredericksburg Fire and Rescue, and (when applicable) Residence Life/Campus Fire Marshal have responsibility for the coordination, initiation, and response of Fire Drills.
    2. Frequency: All residence halls are required to have 3 fire drills per semester. They must be during specified times that are required by NFPA, IFC, and UMW codes and policies. Specifics may be found in the Residence Hall Fire Manuals and Student Handbooks. All buildings, including Academic and Administrative buildings, are subject to announced or unannounced drills at any time. OEMS has the authority to conduct additional drills if necessary.
    3. Record keeping: Fire Drill reports will be recorded and reviewed for deficiencies. Problems will be identified, and appropriate action will be taken.
  2. Fire Evacuation Plans and Procedures
    1. Evacuation Floor Plan: Each floor of every building should have a legible and conspicuous emergency evacuation floor plan posted in view. These plans are usually located near exits or stairwells.
    2. Emergency Numbers: Emergency Numbers should be posted for all occupants in plain view; these should include University Police, OEMS, and Poison Control.
    3. Exit Signs: All exits must be visibly marked. Exits that are not, could be confused for, or appear to be exits must be marked “Not an Exit”. Nothing may obstruct the visibility of these signs and they must be illuminated by a light source of at least 5 foot-candles. All exit signs should be on emergency backup battery power and provide visibility in the event of a power outage or darkness. Signs shall be in accordance with NFPA, IFC, IBC, and other applicable regulations.


  1. Locate and Pull Fire Alarm: Find, if able, and activate the nearest fire alarm. They are typically red and located by exit doors.
  2. Close Doors: Doing so usually slows the spread of fire and reduces smoke damage.
  3. Exit Building: All building occupants should exit the building by way of the closest exit. Consult the evacuation plan if you are unsure.
  4. Fire Stairwells: Multi floor buildings are built with fire rated stairwells. All evacuation exits from upper floors of a building should always be by the stairwell; never use the elevators. Always keep moving. Never congregate in the stairwell. Always go down; never go up.
  5. Stay Low: If there is smoke or heat, stay as low as possible. Both heat and smoke can kill, but more people are killed or injured by asphyxiation than actual burns from a fire.
  6. Interior Doors: If you are opening an interior door, check the handle for heat; if it is hot, do not open it. It is likely to have fire on the other side. There could be tremendous pressure on the other side as well. Go to a window and signal for help.
  7. Assemble Outside (Muster Point): A predetermined area shall be selected so that a head count can be taken, and accountability be ensured. Do not leave the area until the emergency has been cleared or Emergency First Responders have given the “All Clear”.
  8. Call UMW Police Emergency Line: Call x4444 from a campus phone or 540-654-4444 from a cell phone. If there is no sign of emergency personnel, go to the closest phone and contact UMW PD, and they will activate the emergency response system.
  9. Do Not Re-Enter the Building: Under no circumstances should anyone re-enter a building until the all-clear signal is given by Emergency First Responders.



An important part of fire safety is knowing where to find fire extinguishers and knowing how to use them if needed.


The purpose of fire extinguishers is to provide a first aid attack on any small incipient fire. Only trained employees and students should attempt to extinguish a fire. In no event should any person try to fight a fire with an extinguisher. It is designed to extinguish small kitchen type or trashcan fires. UMW OEMS will provide annual training on fire extinguisher use to all employees and students that choose to participate.



The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has classified 5 types of fires:

  • Class A Fires – Ordinary combustibles, paper, rags, wood products
  • Class B Fires – Oil, flammable solvents, gasoline, and grease
  • Class C Fires – Electrical and energized electrical equipment.
  • Class D Fires – Combustible Metals, magnesium, titanium, sodium, zirconium.
  • Class K Fires – Cooking Media


UMW primarily uses Multi-Purpose ABC Type Fire Extinguishers.

These are for use on all A, B, C, type fires. There are a few Halotron type extinguishers in Data Center areas and JMLO. There are Water-Type (Class A) Extinguishers in the Melchers Hall area for certain activities. There are Kitchen (K Class) Extinguishers in the University Center and Woodard kitchen areas.


When you need to use a fire extinguisher, apply the PASS Method from 8 feet away from the fire:

  • “P” Pull the ring pin
  • “A” Aim at the base of the fire, not the smoke or flame
  • “S” Squeeze the handle to activate the extinguisher.
  • “S” Sweep back and forth at the base of the fire

NOTE – Extinguishers will only last 8-10 seconds. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FIGHT A FIRE WITH THEM!



  • Monthly Inspection – All fire extinguishers at all UMW locations and facilities are inspected monthly. The monthly inspection includes verification of pull pin and seal, pressure gauge is in the “green” range, no physical damage, and that the chemical is still present by “hefting”.
  • Annual Inspection – UMW OEMS Staff inspects all fire extinguishers annually. The annual inspection includes the above inspection items, as well as maintenance and tags.
  • Missing Extinguishers – Anyone who notices a fire extinguisher missing or in need of a recharge should submit a work order through Facilities for this service to be conducted.
  • Sanctions or Criminal Charges – Fire extinguishers are a crucial part of the UMW Fire Protection Plan. Misuse of, damage to, or theft of a fire extinguisher is a serious offense, whether it involves an employee or a student. Sanctions are imposed through both the Standards of Conduct for employees and the Student Judicial System for students. OEMS takes fire safety very seriously and will not tolerate any infractions concerning UMW’s fire protection systems.