College Fire Safety Information

September is National Campus Fire Safety Month!  Do you have children bound for a college dorm?  Are they just getting into an apartment or rental house this school year?  Know what to ask about fire safety features and their daily habits that influence safety... Please remind them about these important tips:

It’s most important to PREVENT fires from happening in the first place:

Dorm Safety

  • Avoid using candles and incense.
  • Keep holiday lights away from combustibles.  If the rules say not to use them, don’t. 
  • If you smoke, do it outside.  Consider quitting.
  • Use power strips with breakers.  Avoid overloading outlets.
  • Know your campus fire safety rules and procedures.
  • Know the fire exits and where fire extinguishers are located.
  • Prank false fire alarms are not cool and are punishable by law.



Pre-Emergency:Post the following on the back of each door in dormitories:

  • Fire evacuation plans-a floor diagram indicating the room's location and the paths to the two exits off the floor.
  • The exterior designated meeting location for student accountability. Each dormitory should meet at a designated location away from the building. Where possible, post a reflective sign indicating the fire assembly point-Kenney Residence Hall, Fire Assembly Point, for example-or post a sign on a nearby building, designating it as the fire assembly point.
  • A campus map indicating the locations of the exterior fire assembly points for each residence hall.

During a Fire Emergency:On hearing a fire alarm, the first life safety survival tactic begins before opening the door. Instruct students to do the following:


  • Feel the top of the door with the back of the hand for heat. If it is not hot, open the door slowly while looking into the corridor at a level below the doorknob to avoid breathing in any smoke that may be present. If there is light smoke and no heat, crawl low to the exit and evacuate the building, counting the number of doors to the stairwell. Take your room key with you. If you encounter heavy smoke and heat in the stairwell, use the alternate stairs, or go back to your room and follow Steps A through D below.
  • After feeling for heat at the top of the door, feel the doorknob. If the doorknob is hot, do not open the door.
  • Stuff wet towels and clothing under the door. Continue sealing around the doorframe. If possible, continually wet the cloths.
  • Call 911. Give the exact location of the building-floor level and room number-and the number of people in the room.
  • Wave a white towel or clothing out the window to signal for attention.
  • If light smoke comes into the room, open double-hung windows six inches from the top and bottom. Breathe air from the bottom of the window. If the window is of the crank-out or slide type, open it a few inches. Do not break the glass. Fire and smoke from a fire below may enter the room.
  • Know the locations of the nearest exit (stairwell) and the alternate exit from your room.
  • Count the number of corridor doors to the exits to the left and right of your room, to assist you in locating the stairwells if and when you encounter smoke as you crawl low in the corridors.
  • After evacuating the building, report to your designated area for an accountability check by the RA.



Off-Campus Housing: 

  1. When you cook: Stay and look! Stay in the kitchen while frying, broiling or grilling food. 
  2. Smoke outside.  Have sturdy, deep ashtrays.  Avoid using potted plants for butting cigarettes.  Quit smoking.
  3. Use power strips with breakers.  Don’t overload outlets.
  4. Keep decorative lighting away from combustibles.  Turn off when you leave or go to bed.
  5. Be careful when using candles and incense.  Keep them away from combustibles.  Extinguish them when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  6. Give space heaters space.  Keep them at least 3 feet from anything that can burn.
  7. Be aware that alcohol and drug use can impair judgment and risks safety. 

Before moving in to any rental housing make sure you will be PROTECTED from fire.  

  1. Check that there are working smoke alarms in and near sleeping areas.  Test them monthly.  Replace batteries yearly.  Replace smoke alarms after 10 years.
  2. Make sure to have 2 exits from bedrooms including basements used as sleeping areas. A legal exit or “egress” is one that is a minimum area of 5.7 square feet, is 24” X 20” dimension, and has a sill height of 48” or less above the floor.
  3. Check for working carbon monoxide detectors located within 10 feet of any sleeping area.
  4. Have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.  Know how to use it.
  5. Make sure the building has a current “Certificate of Occupancy”.  To check this in Saint Paul, go to, scroll to bottom of page, click “Property and Permit Information”.  Enter address.  Or call 651-266-8989.

Students with special needs should watch/listen to these videos