Fire Safety FAQs

CRAWL IF THERE’S SMOKE

If you get caught in smoke, get down and crawl,taking short breaths through the nose. Cleaner, cooler air will be near the floor. Get Low – And Go.

FEEL THE DOORS BEFORE OPENING.

Before opening any doors, feel the door knob. If it is hot, don’t open the door. If it is cool, open it slightly, and if heat or heavy smoke are present, close the door and stay in the room.

GO TO THE NEAREST EXIT OR STAIRWELL.

If the nearest exit is blocked by fire, heat or smoke, go to another exit. Always use an exit stairwell, not an elevator. Elevator shafts may fill with smoke or the power may fail, leaving you trapped. Stairwell fire doors will keep out fire and smoke-if they are closed-and will protect you until you get outside.

IF YOU GET TRAPPED:

KEEP THE DOORS CLOSED.

Seal cracks and vents if smoke comes in. If you’re trapped in a room and there’s no smoke outside, open the windows from the top to let out the heat and smoke from the bottom to let in fresh air.

SIGNAL FOR HELP.

Hang an object at the window (a bed sheet, jacket, shirt) to attract the fire department’s attention. If there is a phone in the room, dial Boston University Police at 353-2121, on campus, or off campus dial 911 and report that you are trapped. Be sure to give your address, room number and exact location.

SOMETIMES IT’S SAFER TO STAY IN PLACE!

If all exits from a floor are blocked, remain calm, go back to your room, close the door, and seal the cracks. Open the windows if safe, wave something at the window, and shout or phone for help to alert the Fire Department.

IF YOU ARE ON FIRE:

STOP, DROP, AND ROLL.

Rolling smothers the fire. If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop, and roll, wherever you are. Cover your face with your hands to protect face and lungs.

COOL BURNS.

Run cool (not cold) water over burns, immediately, for 5-10 minutes. Don’t use ointments. Notify medical personnel immediately.

PREVENTION-PROTECT YOURSELF!

PARTICIPATE IN FIRE DRILLS.

Fire drills are typically conducted annually and are done to familiarize you with the sound of your building’s fire alarm system, the emergency exits which you may not normally use, and the procedure for calling the fire department. It is important, before the emergency occurs; to familiarize your self with the location of additional means of egress should your primary exit be blocked.

IF YOU NEED SPECIAL ASSISTANCE.

If you need assistance because of mobility, visual, or hearing issues (even temporarily), you should do the following: notify the Evacuation Director, Resident Director, or senior person in charge of your need for special assistance in the event of an emergency. Be aware of your own capabilities and limitations and do not take any unnecessary chances.

On campus, the Evacuation Director, Resident Director, or Senior person in charge notifies the responding fire department of individuals with special needs. Look for “areas of safe refuge,” like stairwell enclosures or the other side of corridor fire doors. Most elevators are designed to stop operating when the alarm is sounding and are not safe during fires. Sometimes it may be safer to stay in your room and/or office. Follow the advice for being trapped.


Yes! Faculty, staff and students are required to immediately evacuate the building when a fire alarm sounds. Never assume a fire alarm activation indicates a false alarm. Always assume that the situation is a real threat.


Evacuation maps are posted throughout all CRC buildings. All smaller dormitories have written evacuation plans that are posted adjacent to the evacuation maps. Designated meeting points for each residence are noted on the posted plans. Many larger buildings have specific emergency evacuation plans identifying designated gathering points during an evacuation. Residence Assistants, Supervisors and Faculty can provide you the location of the designated meeting point for your building. If you are in doubt of your building’s specific gathering point, remember to proceed away from the building. Failure to move away from the building could result in personal injury or hindrance of emergency responders’ efforts.


If you see fire or smoke, immediately pull the nearest fire alarm pull station. Call 911 once you have safely evacuated, and then BU Public Safety at CRC (617) 353-2121 or BMC/Medical Campus (617) 638-4444.


The University takes every precaution possible to prevent fires. The Office of the Facilities Management and Planning (OFMP)’s Area Managers conduct monthly life safety inspections of the buildings in their area. EHS, in coordination with the Boston and Brookline Fire Departments, conducts annual inspections of all dormitories and quarterly inspections of assembly areas throughout campus. Periodic inspections of CRC buildings are conducted internally. In addition, building fire suppression and fire alarm systems are tested regularly to ensure they are in good working order.


Most buildings at Boston University are equipped with fire alarm and automatic sprinkler systems. These systems will activate when a fire produces enough smoke or heat to trigger them. Fire extinguishers are available for use by trained personnel. Several buildings are also equpiped with standpipe systems for fire department use.


Please go to the Apartment Fire Safety section of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety’s website for more information.


As stated in the Boston University Life Book “A student who, without reasonable cause, activates a fire alarm system or tampers with fire safety equipment, should expect to be expelled from the residential system and be referred to the Office of Judicial Affairs for further action (possibly including imposition of fines and suspension from the University); these cases may also be referred for criminal prosecution.”


A review of campus fires during the year’s 2000-2003 indicates that electrical failures are the most common cause of fires on campus, closely followed by unattended candles in dorm rooms and malfunctioning equipment. Other causes of fires during the same time frame include unattended Bunsen burners, unattended cooking, careless cigarette disposal, contractor accidents, and arson.