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Housing and Res Life COVID-19 FAQs

Fire Safety

Residential fires are the most common fires in the United States, claiming more lives than any other type of fire. For your safety, the residence halls have fire safety equipment, procedures, rules, and expectations. Residents are expected to follow all fire safety procedures and requirements.

Residents are prohibited from tampering with fire safety equipment. Tampering with fire safety equipment may result in disciplinary action, exclusion from the residence halls, and even criminal charges.

The information below will help you evacuate the building safely in the event of a fire, outline the rules and expectations that will prevent fires, and explain the safety equipment.

What to Do If There Is a Fire | Fire Prevention Guidelines |
Fire Safety Equipment (Smoke Alarms, Sprinklers, Alarm covers)

What to Do If There Is a Fire

  • If you discover a fire, pull the alarm and call 911 (or 642.3333 from a mobile phone) to confirm the Fire Department alert.
    • Be sure to pull both the tamper cover alarm and the fire alarm lever.
    • Some fire alarm stations are protected with tamper covers. Pulling the tamper cover to gain access to the fire alarm will activate the tamper alarm. This is a local alarm only and will not report the alarm condition to anyone. You must proceed to pull the lever on the fire alarm. By doing so, the building alarm will sound, enabling the entire facility to be evacuated and will alert UCPD and the Berkeley Fire Department of the activated alarm.
  • Use an extinguisher with caution and always stay between the fire and the exit.
  • If the fire becomes too large, close your door and leave the building at once. Be sure to wear shoes to avoid cutting your feet during the evacuation.
  • Take your keys with you.
  • Be familiar with evacuation exits. Evacuate the building immediately. Walk, do not run.
  • Do not use the elevator. Use the stairs.
  • When smoke or heat is encountered, keep low or crawl to avoid inhaling toxic fumes.
  • When the fire alarm sounds, feel your room door to see if it is hot before opening it.
  • If the door feels hot or smoke prevents exit, keep your door closed and open a window until rescued.
  • Do not reenter the building until authorized by the Fire Department.

Tampering with fire safety equipment or refusing to evacuate during an alarm are serious violations of state law and will result in disciplinary action and possible criminal prosecution.

Fire Prevention Guidelines

Fire prevention is of critical importance in a large community environment because so many lives are endangered by accidents or careless actions. The following list is an outline of fire safety expectations to keep you and your community safe.

  • Decorations, including decorative fabric wall hangings, must be treated with fire retardant.
  • Please have this chemical applied before you decorate. Usually, this retardant will not damage the appearance of your hangings.
  • Posters or any other materials may not be fastened to the ceiling, and should not cover more than one-third of your wall space.
  • To retard fire, wall hangings should be fastened flat against the wall with no air pockets.
  • The State Fire Marshal has mandated that posting anything on corridor walls or room doors is prohibited.
  • Open coil, grease burning, or high heat appliances are not permitted in the residential facilities. This includes hot plates, space heaters, popcorn poppers, and rice makers. Coffee pots which are UL approved are permitted.
  • Too many electrical appliances plugged into one circuit will overload that circuit and blow a fuse, causing power failure. Should this occur, contact a residential staff or facilities staff member. 
    • Don’t overload outlets.
    • Don’t plug extension cords into each other.
  • Candles are not permitted because of the increased fire danger resulting from open flames.
  • Incense burning is not permitted.
  • Halogen lamps are not permitted. These lights produce extremely high temperatures.
  • Paper lamp shades are not permitted.
  • Non-metal or perforated wastebaskets should not be used in your room, as they are also fire hazards. Use only the fire retardant wastebaskets that have been provided.
  • Barbecues are not allowed to be used in rooms or on balconies.

Fire Safety Equipment

Smoke alarms, sprinklers, and alarm covers are in the residence halls for your safety. Do not tamper with any fire safety equipment. Tampering with fire safety equipment may result in disciplinary action, exclusion from the residence halls, and even criminal charges.

Smoke Alarms

The purposes of smoke and fire detection systems are to:

  • Wake you in case of a fire.
  • Notify the Berkeley Fire Department.

Do not play or tamper with smoke/fire detectors.

Smoke and fire detectors are on the ceilings of each resident room. Sufficient smoke or excessive heat will sound an alarm within the room. If there is no fire, residents should open the window and fan the smoke from the detector in order to stop the alarm.

Should smoke remain too long, or should heat reach a certain temperature, a general alarm will sound throughout the facility and the the Berkeley Fire Department will be notified and respond.

All common areas have detectors. Should these be set off by smoke or fire, the general alarm will sound and you should immediately evacuate the building.

Fire Sprinkler Systems

Most of the residence halls have fire sprinkler systems. In the event of a fire, the sprinklers will operate when the temperature reaches approximately 135 degrees fahrenheit.

Care must be taken not to cause the sprinkler heads to go off unnecessarily by hitting the heads, throwing objects such as Frisbees or balls, or hanging items from the sprinklers. This will activate the sprinklers and cause an enormous amount of water damage, as well as summon the Fire Department to a false alarm condition.

Fire Alarm Tamper Covers

Some fire alarm stations are protected with tamper covers. In the event of an actual emergency, be aware that pulling the tamper cover to gain access to the fire alarm will activate a local fire alarm and will not summon the fire department.

To notify the fire department, you must all pull the lever on the fire alarm. The building alarm will sound, enabling the entire facility to be evacuated, and will alert the UC Police Department and the Berkeley Fire Department.