IV:00:07  Fire Safety in On-Campus Student Residential Housing

 I.  PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to promote the safety of the university community, prevent damage to university property, and comply with applicable laws, regulations and policies.  Every member of the university community is responsible for assisting in the prevention and proper handling of fire hazards and for being familiar with the university’s fire prevention plan which outlines the university’s plan to promote fire safety and reduce the risk of fire-related incidents and injuries (see Chapter 7). Planning for fire safety at Middle Tennessee State University (“MTSU”) takes into account the special fire hazards for specific operating areas, the protection of high-value property, and the safety of staff, students, and guests.

II. RESPONSIBILITIES

A. Facilities Services provides and maintains fire detection systems, fire alarm systems, automatic and manual fire suppression systems, and portable fire extinguishers.

B. The MTSU Fire Marshal administers fire rules and procedures, and is responsible for matters pertaining to fire safety, codes interpretation, fire/rescue or hazardous material emergency response, and coordination with the fire department, emergency medical services, and county, state and federal emergency management resources.

III. FIRE SAFETY RULES

A. General

1. The sounding of false fire alarms and tampering with firefighting or safety equipment, including extinguishers, hoses, EXIT signs, and the alarm system, is prohibited.

2. Housing staff in each building shall be responsible for instructing the occupants that the entire building is to be 100% evacuated in an emergency or when a fire alarm sounds.

3. 100% evacuation of a building is required in the event of a fire alarm or fire.

4. It should be assumed that all fire alarms are actual fires. Staff and students failing to appropriately evacuate the building may be subject to disciplinary action.

5. Portable fire extinguishers for use by authorized and trained personnel are located in campus buildings in compliance with applicable codes. In the event of a fire or fire alarm, the number one priority for all other persons is to safely and immediately evacuate the building.

B. Smoking. Smoking, including vaporizers, hookahs, e-cigarettes, etc., is prohibited on the MTSU campus and in all campus buildings, including student residential housing.

C. Open Flames. Lighting devices such as tiki lamps, oil lamps, torches, etc., are absolutely prohibited in all MTSU facilities, including student residential housing.  The use of candles and the burning of incense in residential facilities are prohibited unless written authorization from the Director of Housing and Residential Life or Greek Life, as appropriate, is obtained. 

D. The unauthorized possession, ignition or detonation of any object or article which would cause damage by fire or other means to persons or property, or possession of any substance which could be considered to be and used as fireworks, is prohibited.

E. Exit Ways and Building Corridors

1. Buildings designed for human occupancy must have continuous and unobstructed ways of egress to permit prompt evacuation of the occupants and allow necessary access for responding emergency personnel.

2. Corridors must not be used for storage. The intent is to keep exits free from obstructions and clear of combustible materials.

3. Storage of furniture, equipment, supplies, or anything else is not permitted in corridors or stairwells.

4. Combustibles, including recyclable waste paper, are not permitted in stairwells.

5. All stairwells must remain clear at all times.

6. Furnishings or storage are not permitted in stairwells at any time.

F. Electrical Cords

1. All electrical cords must be maintained in good repair, without splices or fraying.

2. All electrical cords must be approved by Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) and must be in compliance with the National Electrical Code.

3. Electrical cords shall not be run through doors, windows, or other openings in walls, floors, or ceilings.

4. Electrical cords shall not be used outside of the room where the receptacle is located.

5. Electrical cords shall not be spliced for any reason. Broken or damaged cords shall be replaced.

6. All electrical cords shall be properly grounded when in use and must have a grounding conductor.

7. Multiple plug adapters are prohibited.

8. Household type 2-conductor extension cords are prohibited.

9. Adapters to allow 3-wire cords to be plugged into 2-wire cords or receptacles are prohibited.

10. Extension cords are prohibited. Power strips, preferably with an internal breaker function are allowed.

G. Electrical Tools or Appliances in Residential Housing

1. Powered equipment such as electrical tools or appliances must be grounded or of the double insulated type.

2. Combustible materials must be 18 inches or more away from any light bulb or electrical appliance.

3. Appliances:

a. Appliances with open heating elements may not be operated in student residence hall rooms.

b. All appliances must be maintained in good repair; must be approved by Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) and must be in compliance with the National Electrical Code.

c. Appliances found to be unsafe shall be removed.

d. Appliances shall be placed on non-combustible surfaces no closer than 18 inches from any combustibles.

e. Air conditioners, ice boxes, unauthorized refrigerators (those larger than 3.2 cubic feet not to exceed 2.5 amps), heavy electrical appliances such as laundry and dishwashing machines, personal stoves and halogen lamps are prohibited.

f. Microwaves not to exceed 2.5 amps are allowed.

g. Portable heaters are prohibited in residence halls, fraternity houses, apartments, or other campus residence facilities without prior written consent of the university.

h. Appliances available for use shall be considered to be in use.

IV. REPORTING FIRES OR FIRE ALARMS

A. Immediately activate the building alarm system.

B. Immediately report all fires, regardless of size (even if extinguished), smoke, or fire alarms on campus to the MTSU Police Department by dialing 2424 or 911 from any campus phone. Many fire alarm systems are not remotely monitored; therefore, it is imperative that someone notify the MTSU Police Department of fires and fire alarms as soon as it is safely possible.

C. The MTSU Police Department will immediately notify the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department.

D. The MTSU Police Department will immediately notify the MTSU Fire Marshal of any reported fire or fire alarm at any hour.

V. BUILDING EVACUATION DURING A FIRE OR OTHER EMERGENCY

A. Area Coordinators and Resident Directors shall be responsible for instructing the residents of their assigned buildings that the entire building is to be 100% evacuated in an emergency or when the fire alarm sounds.

B. The size and type of construction of many campus buildings may prevent residents from detecting an actual fire until they are at extreme risk of injury. State law requires that all persons immediately evacuate.

C. Staff and residents must follow these procedures upon discovery of a fire, smoke in a building, or activation of a fire alarm system:

1. If a fire occurs in a room where you are, get out, close the door, and stay out.

2. Sound the alarm and report the fire to 2424 or 911.

3. In all other cases, leave if possible. Feel the door with the back of your hand. Open it slowly if it is cool and proceed to the nearest exit. Crawl low under any smoke. Do not open the door if it is hot. Seal all cracks with wet towels, clothing or other available material. Shut off all fans and air conditioners. Signal at the window and phone for help.

4. Assume all fire alarms are actual fires.

5. Do not investigate; that is the responsibility of the Fire Department.

6. Use the stairs. Elevators shall not be used for building evacuation purposes under any circumstances.

7. Persons evacuating the building will assemble at a safe distance from the building where they will not interfere with or be endangered by the operation of fire, rescue or other emergency equipment.

8. The person reporting the emergency should meet the officer in charge of the first arriving police unit or fire apparatus and inform him or her of the nature of the emergency and the general situation.

9. The building should not be re-entered until permission to do so is given by the Fire Department.

VI. FIRE DETECTION AND ALARM SYSTEM OPERATION

A. Types of Signals: Fire alarm systems may provide three types of signals: Fire Alarm, Supervisory, and Trouble.

B. Fire Alarm Signal: A fire alarm signal is a warning of fire danger that requires immediate action.

1. Fire alarm signals must always be immediately reported to the MTSU Police Department Communications Center.

2. The MTSU Police Department will immediately report the fire alarm to the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department.

3. The MTSU Police Department will also immediately notify the MTSU Fire Marshal.

4. A fire alarm signal will always require a system reset after the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department has determined the cause of the fire alarm and the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department Incident Commander has authorized reoccupation of the building.

a. When authorized by the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department Incident Commander or the MTSU Fire Marshal the Area Coordinator on duty shall reset any activated pull stations.

b. When all smoke detectors have cleared, all activated pull stations have been reset, and authorization has been received from the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department Incident Commander or the MTSU Fire Marshal, the Area Coordinator on duty shall reset the fire alarm system at either the fire alarm control panel or the annunciator panel.

c. If the system will not reset due to a malfunction then the MTSU Police Department shall be notified and they shall notify the Director of Building Services and the MTSU Fire Marshal so that emergency repairs may be initiated.

C. Supervisory Signal: A Supervisory Signal indicates that action is needed in connection with the operation of other fire protection systems that are being monitored by the fire alarm system. Such systems may include detection or suppression systems, such as smoke detectors and automatic sprinkler systems.

1. A supervisory signal may be either an “off-normal” signal, indicating a condition requiring attention; or a “restoration-to-normal” signal, indicating the condition that initiated the original off-normal signal has been resolved.

2. In sprinkled residential apartment type occupancies an active smoke detector will be reported as a supervisory signal without sounding a general alarm. This feature is to prevent unintentional alarms because of cooking or smoking since an actual fire will activate the sprinkler system and sound a general fire alarm.

3. Upon receipt of supervisory signals in residential apartment buildings, such as Scarlett Commons, Greek Row, or Womack Lane Apartments, it is recommended that the Housing Area Coordinator on duty conduct a welfare check on that apartment, either by telephone or a physical visit, but there is no need to roll out the fire department unless a sprinkler water flow is indicated.

4. Supervisory signals should be acknowledged at the fire alarm control panel or annunciator panel but there is no need to reset the system.

D. Trouble Signal: A trouble signal indicates a fault in a monitored circuit or component of the fire alarm system, or the disarrangement of the primary or secondary power supply.

1. Trouble signals should be acknowledged at the fire alarm control panel or annunciator panel but there is no need to reset the system.

2. Trouble signals should be reported to Facilities Services through the Work Order system, either online or by telephone. After hours, if the trouble signal is associated with a fire alarm signal and the trouble prevents a system reset, the MTSU Police Department will notify the Director of Building Services and the MTSU Fire Marshal so that emergency repairs may be initiated.

VII. FIRE SAFETY TRAINING AND EDUCATION

A. Fire Exit Drills

1. The purpose of conducting fire exit drills is to ensure the safe and efficient evacuation of a building in an emergency while maintaining order and control and preventing panic. Speed in emptying a building, while desirable, is not the object of a fire exit drill and should be considered of secondary importance.

2. The Resident Director or Area Coordinator conducting a fire exit drill shall notify the MTSU Police Department at 2424 of the time and location of the drill not less than one hour prior to initiating any fire exit drill.

3. The MTSU Police Department dispatcher shall notify the Murfreesboro Fire Department dispatcher of the time and location of the drill prior to the actual initiation of any fire exit drill.

4. Each residence hall shall conduct a minimum of two fire exit drills each semester. One shall be announced and notice given to all building staff and residents. One shall be unannounced without notice to either the building staff or residents.

5. When all activated pull stations have been reset, and the drill has been concluded, the Area Coordinator on duty shall reset the fire alarm system at either the fire alarm control panel or the annunciator panel and the MTSU Police Department shall be notified that the drill is complete. If the system will not reset due to a malfunction then the MTSU Police Department shall be notified and they shall notify the Director of Building Services and the MTSU Fire Marshal so that emergency repairs may be initiated.

B. Online Fire Safety Education. Housing Staff shall participate in the assigned online fire safety training prior to being assigned duties in a residence hall.

VIII. FIRE SAFETY REPORT

A. An annual fire safety report will be published and distributed by October 1 of each year. Notice of the report will be given to all enrolled students and all employees.  Prospective students and employees will also be provided notice, as appropriate.

B. The annual fire safety report will contain the following information:

1. A description of each on-campus student housing facility fire safety system;

2. The number of fire drills held during the previous calendar year;

3. The policy on portable electrical appliances, smoking, and open flames in a student housing facility;

4. Procedure for student housing evacuation in the case of a fire;

5. The policy regarding fire safety education and training programs provided to students and employees describing the procedures that students and employees should follow in the case of a fire;

6. For purposes of including a fire in the statistics in the annual fire safety report, a list of the titles of each person or organization to which students and employees should report that a fire occurred; and,

7. Plans for future improvements in fire safety, if determined to be necessary by the institution.

C. Statistics must be collected for reported fires in on-campus student housing facilities.

D. The statistics will include, for each student housing facility, the number of fires and the cause of each fire, the number of persons with fire-related injuries for each fire, the number of fire-related deaths for each fire, and the value of property damage caused by each fire.

E. All fires and fire alarms shall be reported to the MTSU Fire Marshal.

IX. FIRE LOG – ON-CAMPUS STUDENT HOUSING FACILITIES

A. A written fire log will record, by the date reported, any fire that occurs in an on-campus student housing facility.

B. The log will include the date the fire was reported, the nature of the fire, the date and time of the fire, and the general location of the fire.

C. The log will be maintained to allow access to the public.

X. FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS

MTSU residence halls all have current, state of the art, digital fire alarm systems. MTSU strives to be a leader in residence hall fire safety and is making upgrades beyond minimum requirements as funding is made available. Future plans include upgrading all existing systems to voice capability, improving fire department access, and redundant systems monitoring capability.

Revisions:  September 30, 2015 (New).

Cross-references: MTSU Campus Safety Handbook, International Fire Code, Life Safety Code