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General Fire Safety Requirements

ExitAll stairwells, exits, corridors shall be kept free of all obstructions at all times. No furnishings, decorations, other combustible objects or flammable shall obstruct exits. Corridors and other portions of the means of egress are meant to be a certain width so that the expected numbers of people can exit quickly in a fire situation. Any time there are obstructions, the possibility of people becoming trapped or slowed down in a fire, increases greatly. Since the prime function of corridors is to allow people to escape during a fire, we don't want these areas to be the origin of fire, or a means to allow it to propagate. This can very easily happen if combustibles are stored and allowed to accumulate there.

Flame CabinetFlammable and combustible liquids should be present in work areas only in quantities required for the days job, and must be placed in an approved storage area/locker at the end of each work day. Labs, industrial areas, warehouses and other occupancies all have their own requirements and exceptions. Contact EH&S for specifics for your area.

Fire doors are designed to be closed at all times. The only exception to this is if they are held open by magnetic hold open devices that will release the door upon activation of the fire alarm system. If you are unsure if a door in your area is a rated fire door, ask theEH&S office. Generally speaking though, every stairwell door is fire rated since it is part of the "protected path of egress" for building occupants. Do not wedge or allow any of these doors to be held open unattended for convenience sake. If you have in your area, a door with broken closures or won't latch, contact the Physical Plant to have it repaired.

ShelvesDo not physically obstruct or block from view fire extinguishers, fire alarm pull stations, standpipe hose outlets or electrical shut off locations. Do not block or hang anything from sprinkler heads. To obtain proper distribution of water, a minimum of 18 inches of clear space is required below sprinkler deflectors.

Electrical Safety

ElectricalMost electrically related fires are caused by misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, and overloaded circuits and extension cords. Here are some dos and don'ts for electrical fire safety.

  • ExtensionRoutinely check your electrical appliances and wiring. Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately
  • Don't overload extension cords. Do not plug multiple extension cords into another (daisy-chaining)
  • Know the capacity of the multi strip outlet. Make sure the amperage of the appliances being plugged in, do not exceed the rating. Best to use a circuit breaker protected multiple outlet strip.
  • Extension cords are to be used only when a flexible, temporary connection is necessary - never for fixed wiring. Never tack, staple, fasten or run through woodwork, ceilings or walls; never tie, pass through doorways, drape over pipes or run under rugs. Where there is a permanent need for an electrical outlet, one should be installed.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen
  • When buying electrical appliances look for products which meet the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) standard for safety
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet
  • Never overload wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then have replaced, outlets and switches that are hot to the touch
  • Coffee makers, and all other appliances with exposed heating elements should never be left unattended while in operation. They should be unplugged after each use and stored only after they are cool enough to touch

Space Heaters

The following guidelines must be followed when using portable space heaters:

  1. The heater must have an automatic safety switch that turns the unit off if it is tipped over.
  2. Units must be grounded and UL approved.
  3. Before using the heater, inspect the electrical cord. Look for frayed wire or cracked insulation. If there are any defects in the cord or unit, DO NOT USE. Do not connect an extension cord to the heater.
  4. Never leave the unit on while you are out of your office. Always check the unit before leaving your office for lunch or at the end of the day and make sure it is shut off.
  5. Do not place the heater near combustible materials such as papers, magazines or office furniture. Allow at least three feet between the heater and combustible material.
  6. Do not place the heater in or near wet areas or in high traffic areas such as exit ways.
  7. Before operating the heater, always read and follow the manufacturers operating instructions.


Common Fire Violations

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