Campus Housing Fire Safety Tips

  • Never store gasoline or propane tanks inside of a building.
  • If there are smokers present in the home, check couches and chairs before going to bed or leaving to ensure that there are no smoldering butts.  Ashtrays should be emptied into non-combustible cans such as coffee tins and allowed to cool for a minimum of 24 hours before emptying into trash.
  • Prepare a home escape plan.  If you live in a multi-unit building, ask management for a copy of the emergency fire procedures for the building.  This will provide you with information on what to do in the event of a fire, as well as common fire hazards that may be present in your building.
  • Candles must never be left unattended and should be extinguished if leaving the room, even for a moment.  Keep them away from combustibles including books, papers and drapes.  And always have them on a sturdy non-combustible surface.
  • Many of the fatal fires that occur involve alcohol.  After a night out many people come home with a food craving and decide to cook and then fall asleep.  Picking up food on the way home could prevent these fires.
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires and fire injuries in this country.  Make is a practice to NEVER leave cooking unattended, even for a minute. 
  • Finally, remember that a few minutes spent ensuring that your home is fire safe and pre planning for an emergency could save your life.  If you have any questions about fire safety, or have a concern or question regarding your residence, contact EHS at 410.706.3494.

There have been a number of on and off-campus fire tragedies over the years. Since January 2000 there have been 146 campus-related fire fatalities with six of those occurring in the 2010-2011 academic year. The majority of these fires occurs off-campus and account for 85% of the total fatalities since 2000. Four common factors in many of these fires include; the lack of automatic sprinklers, missing or disabled smoke alarms, careless disposal of smoking materials, impaired judgment from alcohol consumption, and fires originating on upholstered furniture on decks or porches.

Some questions to ask before you sign a rental agreement for off-campus housing:

    1. Are smoke alarms installed and working?
    2. How often are the smoke alarms checked and batteries changed?
    3. Are there at least two ways to exit the living space and the building?
    4. Are exits clearly marked where necessary and free from obstruction?
    5. Do the upper floors have a fire escape or ladder available for each bedroom?
    6. Are fire extinguishers available and working?
    7. Is there a sprinkler system installed?
    8. Is the electrical wiring adequate? What is the electrical panel rated (200 amps or above)?
    9. Are there ground fault interrupters (GFIs) in the bathroom and kitchen?
    10. Do the windows easily open?
    11. If the windows are secured with security bars, is there a quick release from the inside?
    12. If there are dead bolt locks on doors, can they be opened without a key?
    13. Is the building regularly inspected by the local fire department or code enforcement office?
    14. What is the owner's policy and method for correcting safety problems in the building?
    15. Has there ever been a fire in this building? If so, identify the cause.
    16. Request a walk through of the appliances so you know how to properly use them.
    17. Where is the nearest fire hydrant on the street? Who is responsible for keeping it cleared in the winter?
    18. Has the city and/or university received any safety complaints regarding this building?

We also ask that you recognize the hazards of smoking, using candles and incense, cooking in unapproved locations or without proper precautions and overburdening electrical outlets and extension cords. 

If you have any questions about fire safety, or have a concern or question regarding your residence, contact the University Fire Marshal Andrew Roberts, P.E. at 410-706-3494 or aroberts@umaryland.edu.