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Environmental Health & Safety

Fire Alarm Procedures/Fire Evacuation

           R – Rescue and relocate anyone in immediate danger.

           A – Alert others by activating the building fire alarm and calling ext. 13 from a safe location.

           C – Confine the emergency by closing the doors

           E – Evacuate immediately.  Do not use elevators. Use stairs.  

If in smoke or heat crawl, keep low to avoid deadly smoke, heat and fumes.  If there is smoke in corridor, stay  in room, close and seal doors, dial 13 for help, stand by window.


  • Before opening any doors, feel the door first.  If  it is hot, don’t open the door.  If it isn’t hot, brace yourself against the door, open it slightly, and if heat or heavy smoke is present, close the door and leave by an alternate exit.
  • If you can’t leave the room, keep the door closed.  Open the windows from the top to let out heat and smoke and from the bottom to let in fresh air.  Seal the bottom of your room door and air vents with a rug, blanket or towel.  Then hang a light colored object (towel, bed sheet, shirt etc.) out the window to attract the Fire Department’s attention.  If there is a phone in the room call x-13 and report that you are trapped.  Be sure to give your building name and location.
  • If you can leave the room, leave a light on and close all doors behind you. Leave all material in your room or office to avoid wasting time. Take your key incase you cannot reach an exit and you have to return to your room.
  • Go to the nearest exit or stairway.  If the first exit is blocked, go to an alternate exit or stairway.
  • Never use an elevator during a fire emergency.  A mechanical or electrical failure could leave you trapped at the fire floor or between floors.
  • If you are not able to self evacuate, either proceed to an enclosed stairwell or to a designated area of safe refuge, depending upon your building. If you go to an enclosed stairwell, be sure to position yourself so as not to block or impede pedestrian flow or access to the stairwell.
  • If you go to a designated area of safe refuge, use the two-way communication device to contact University Security, giving your exact location – building, floor and stairwell/room number.
  • If all exits are blocked, go back to your room, close the door, open the window, as previously described.
  • A plan to alert students in the residence halls and a plan to evacuate patients in the hospital have been developed. Such actions are only to be performed when it can be done without undue risk.  Areas of particular concern are sleeping rooms, locker rooms, laboratories, practice rooms, and any other areas where the occupant may be unable to hear the alarm.  Buildings should be evacuated using designated ways of egress (corridors are marked exits).  Unless involved in the fire themselves, these will provide 1 hour or more of protection from heat and smoke.  When in the fire-affected zone, move quickly away from the fire and beyond any fire door; evacuation to safety may then be done in an expeditious but calm manner.
  • Stand clear of the area after evacuating to give emergency apparatus and personnel room to maneuver. Go to a designated meeting area and stay there.  If possible, call Security (dial 13) from a neighboring area and give as much information as possible.
  • Each person not involved in the emergency procedures should follow the directions of fire, security, and other emergency personnel.
  • No persons may re-enter an evacuated building until permitted by emergency personnel.
  • Each university member has the responsibility of knowing the location of the fire alarm station, fire extinguisher and primary and secondary exit routes for his primary place of occupancy while on university property.  Should a fire discovered or suspected; a fire alarm should be sounded immediately.  (If time permits, call Security (dial 13) as well as activating a pull station.
  • If you discover or suspect a fire, sound the building fire alarm immediately.  All fires, even small ones must be reported.
  • When an alarm sounds, every building occupant shall evacuate the building immediately. Treat every alarm as an actual emergency.
  • Be especially aware of handicapped persons in your building.  They may need your help to reach a point of safety such as a stairwell.  Report to the command post the location of the individual.
  • Rescue others only if you can do so safely.


Pre-Emergency Preparation

  • All members of the University community should become thoroughly familiar with their facility and the location of all its exits and areas of refuge.
  • They should become familiar with the distinct sound of the fire alarm signal.
  • They should seek out volunteers (“buddies”) who might be able to assist them in an emergency.
  • If wheel-chair-confined, they should know the safest method people can use to assist them.  They should know how many people are needed to provide such assistance.
  • If the student or faculty/staff has verbal communication difficulties, they should place a sign on their wheelchair providing instructions on how they can be assisted.
  • They should carry a loud whistle, horn or similar device to alert people of their location if they become trapped or isolated.


Assisting an Individual with a Disabilities

Under the assumption that University Security will be the first responders' to any fire incident, the campus security department should be made aware on an on-going basis of those persons with significant physical disabilities living in student residence facilities or working in any UR facility.


Responsibility of Supervisor and Residence Hall Staff

Supervisors and residence hall staff are responsible for being thoroughly knowledgeable of emergency evacuation procedures and for knowing the primary and alternative routes of exit from their buildings.  They are also responsible for knowing the location of the offices, labs, and sleeping rooms of staff or resident students who are mobility impaired, visually impaired and hearing impaired. Each year, term or semester, supervisors or residence hall staff should notify University Security about the normal location or the sleeping rooms occupied by students with physical disabilities.


Responsibility of Individuals with Mobility Impairment

It is critical to the health and safety of an individual with a mobility impairment the s/he is knowledgeable of their needs during an emergency evacuation. They should be expected to convey these needs to their supervisor or to residence life staff at the beginning of their employment or the academic year. In the event of a fire emergency, an individual with a mobility impairment may choose one of the following alternatives:

  • Proceed to an enclosed stairwell, accompanied by a partner or “buddy” and wait inside the stairwell. Remain in the stairwell until the responding fire department arrives and safely completes the evacuation.
  • Proceed to a designated “area of refuge”. Designated “area of refuge” should include an outside window, a two-way communication device and a fire rated door.
  • Defend in place. Seek refuge in rooms or sections of a building, that by virtue of its construction associated with the location of the fire incident, will provide a safe area for persons to remain during a fire situation until rescue is made. The door should be kept closed. If possible, individuals should call University Security to advise them of his/her location.

Mobility Impaired – Wheelchair

Individuals who use a wheelchair may need to be evacuated with the wheelchair particularly, if they use a respirator. During an emergency evacuation, it is preferable for someone to remain with and assist the non-ambulatory person if they can do so without endangering their own life.


Mobility Impaired – Ambulatory

Individuals who are able to walk independently, either with or without the use of crutches or a cane and can negotiate stairs in an emergency situation with minor assistance.  If an emergency evacuation is imminent, this individual should wait until heavy pedestrian traffic has cleared before attempting to use stairways.


Hearing Impaired

Individuals with hearing impairments may need fire alarm horn/strobe lights installed in their assigned rooms or offices.  Staff should be aware of those persons with hearing impairments and should attempt to provide assistance and guidance in the event of an emergency evacuation.


Visually Impaired

Individuals with a visual impairment should become familiar with their immediate surroundings and most frequently traveled routes.  In the event of an emergency evacuation, staff or other students should offer to guide an individual with a visual impairment from the building.  Special attention should be given to obstacles or route obstructions.


Speech Impaired

Individuals with speech impairment may have difficulty communicating during an emergency evacuation.  Ideally, a volunteer or “buddy” capable of communicating with that individual should assist them during the evacuation.


Developmentally Disabled

It is critically important that the designated evacuation route be rehearsed with a developmentally disabled occupant.  Ideally, someone capable of communicating effectively with this person should assist them during the evacuation.


Contact EH&S at (585) 275-3241 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

This page last updated 4/18/2011. Disclaimer.