Fire Safety Equipment and Policies
Fire Alarm System
All Corps dormitories are equipped with fire alarm systems that are maintained by the Texas A&M University Physical Plant. The fire alarm system indicates danger using two types of alarms:
1. Local Alarm – A local alarm activates under certain conditions that indicate that the occupants of a room may be at risk. The local alarm activates in an individual room only and is integrated with the in-room smoke/heat detector.
2. General Alarm – The general alarm activates under certain conditions that indicate that occupants of the entire building may be at risk. When the general alarm activates, all individual room alarms sound. Additionally, alarms fitted with strobe lighting in the hallways and stairwells are activated. The four fire doors on every floor automatically close and the building's air handling system shuts off. A general alarm also initiates a sequence that dispatches fire trucks and other emergency personnel to the scene unless cancelled by the proper authorities after verifying a false alarm. A person who initiates a false or baseless general alarm related incident is in direct violation of Texas State Fire Marshal regulations and the Texas Penal Code.
Texas State Fire Marshal regulations strictly prohibit tampering with or disabling a smoke/heat detector or any other fire and life safety device regardless of the device's location.
Sources Leading to Alarm Activation
- Individual Room Smoke/Heat Detector – Each room is fitted with one smoke/heat detector. A green light on the detector indicates that it is functioning. Cadets should periodically conduct a visual inspection of the smoke/heat detector in their room to ensure the light is displayed.
- The smoke detection component can sometimes be activated by dust, insects, or other sources. If you suspect that something other than smoke is causing your room alarm to sound, fan around the detector. If the alarm persists, report the problem to your Unit Commander and/or Housing Office Representative, the Commandant's Duty Officer or Corps Housing. Do not attempt to disassemble the detector as a corrective action. Do not tamper with the detector in an effort to stop a false alarm.
- When the heat detection component senses an unusually high room temperature, it activates the general alarm.
- Do not block or cover the smoke/heat detector. A minimum of 24 inches of horizontal and vertical clearance must be maintained around the smoke/heat detector. Cadets may not hang hats or other items from the smoke/heat detector or the conduit that is part of the set-up.
- Hallway Smoke/Heat Detector – Hallway smoke/heat detectors are located at regular intervals throughout all hallways. Activation of any of these will send the building into general alarm.
- Manual Pull Station – Manual pull stations are located near every building exit. When activated, a manual pull station initiates the general alarm and can only be reset by authorized personnel. If a fire is observed or suspected and the general alarm has not already been activated, an occupant should engage the pull station as he/she evacuates in order to help warn others. A person who initiates a false or baseless general alarm related incident is in direct violation of Texas State Fire Marshal regulations and the Texas Penal Code. False activation by use of the manual pull station will not be tolerated and a cadet involved in such activity will be disciplined.
Fire Alarm Evacuation Procedures
At the beginning of the fall semester, your Unit Commander and/or Housing Office Representative will designate an assembly area for the unit in the event of an evacuation due to a general alarm. When a general alarm sounds, immediately evacuate the building and report to that designated assembly area for accountability. At that time, your Unit Commander or Housing Office Representative will give you further instructions and notify the group if and when emergency personnel or fire alarm technicians have authorized re-entry into the building. Failure to evacuate the building when the general alarm sounds compromises your safety, the safety of other residents, and the safety of emergency personnel.
Under the direction of the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office, all on-campus residence halls and dormitories are required to conduct a minimum of two fire drills per semester (fall, spring and summer). Corps Housing is authorized to conduct fire drills at any time (including the academic day and Call-to-Quarters) with or without advanced notice. Fire drills allow for the testing of the fire alarm system components and provide training for staff, cadet leaders, and individual cadets. For your safety and the safety of others, treat every fire alarm as if it were real and evacuate the building.
Corps dormitories are equipped with two fire extinguishers per floor, located in each stairwell. The most important action a resident can take in the event of a fire is to evacuate and contact emergency personnel (call 9-911 from a campus phone or 911 from a non-campus phone). If necessary, cadets may use a fire extinguisher to enable safe evacuation. However, the presence of fire extinguishers in the dormitories does not place any obligation on cadets to fight fires.
Inappropriate discharge or tampering with a fire extinguisher will result in disciplinary actions including but not limited to individual or group billings. A fire extinguisher that has been vandalized by frivolous discharge is obviously unable to provide maximum performance during a fire.
Hallway Fire Doors
Under the direction of the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office, hallway fire doors are present in all dormitories across the Texas A&M University campus. In the Corps dormitories, there are four hallway fire doors per floor which are magnetically held open. These doors are connected to each building's fire alarm system and will close when the general fire alarm sounds. The purpose of the fire doors is to contain smoke and fire in a smaller area by compartmentalizing the hallway and decreasing the oxygen availability.
At no time may cadets close the fire doors. Do not place articles in the closing path of the fire doors such that they would not be able to close completely if the general alarm sounds. Do not cover the glass windows of the fire doors. Cadets will not hang or swing from the fire door or apply excessive weight onto the fire door's latch release assembly. A malfunctioning (i.e., if the building fire alarm system is not in alarm but the magnets are not holding the doors open) or damaged fire door must be reported immediately via the Corps Maintenance Request System.
Room Door Closers
Door closers are installed on every cadet room door at the direction of the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office. The purpose of the door closer is to ensure that the room door closes automatically. In the event of a fire in the room, the closed door will decrease the oxygen availability and better contain the fire and smoke. It is the cadet's responsibility to ensure that the door closer for his/her room is functional at all times and to report malfunctions immediately via the Corps Maintenance Request System.
Cadets are only authorized to temporarily prop open their room door using non-permanent measures and only while physically present in the room. Room doors may not be held open by permanently installed devices (such as chains, hooks, latches, etc.). Do not tamper with, disable or remove the door closer in your room. Do not leave your door propped open if you are not going to be the room.
Cadets are strongly discouraged from hanging an excessive number of items (including but not limited to robes, towels, and other clothing) on their room door as the weight of such items may prevent proper operation of the door closer.
Financial Accountability for Fire and Life Safety Systems
Cadets will be held financially accountable (either individually or through group billings) for any damages that occur to fire and life safety equipment in rooms or common areas.
Corps Housing will pursue disciplinary actions against any cadet(s) found responsible for damages that occur to fire and life safety equipment in rooms or common areas. Cadet Resident Handbook (August 1, 2010) 18
ADDITIONAL TIPS IN THE EVENT OF FIRE
By following the guidelines listed below, you will have the best chance of surviving a fire with the least amount of personal injury and property damage. You can also reference the evacuation plan on the back of your residence hall room door. If an evacuation plan is not on the back of your room door, please contact Corps Housing immediately.
1. Know at least two ways to exit from your room. Practice finding your way with your eyes closed (have someone help you do that). Smoke rises, so you want to crawl below it. Be prepared to reverse your direction or return to your room. Keep one hand on the wall in the direction you turn, so you can keep your orientation. Memorize landmarks, such as drinking fountains and bulletin boards. If you do become disoriented, enter any room that will provide refuge until you are rescued.
2. If a fire alarm sounds, exit the building immediately and keep a safe distance from the building. Prior to leaving your room, feel the door with the back of your hand. If any portion of the door is hot, do not open it. If it is cool, brace yourself against the lower portion of the door as you open it. If the hallway appears safe, take your key with you, close your door, and exit the building. Follow instructions from hall staff or emergency personnel.
3. If you cannot leave your room for safety reasons, block cracks around the door with wet towels. Call 9-911 (or 911 from a non-campus phone), giving your name, room number, and situation. Do not leave your room until you are told it is safe to do so, fire fighters will evacuate those most in danger, so you may not be evacuated immediately. If smoke enters your room, lie on the floor for the freshest air. Open the window if there is no smoke visible on the outside. Attract attention by dangling a sheet (daytime) or flashing your room lights (nighttime). If you must break a window, use a chair and knock out all of the glass to provide the most ventilation.
4. If you are the person who discovers a fire, activate a pull station. When you get to a safe area outside, call 9-911 from a convenience/blue light phone or 911 from a non-campus phone. Answering their questions clearly will ensure a quick response from emergency personnel.
5. Do not re-enter the building until instructed by staff, even though this may be some time after the fire appears to be out, since the building has to be inspected. Emergency personnel will secure the building to ensure the residents' privacy and property security.
By following these suggestions, you will provide yourself with the best chance of surviving a fire. Review these tips often, practice your exit routes, and follow good fire prevention practices to insure you will not have to use these skills.