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Fire Safety Efforts

It is the mission of the Kutztown University (KU) Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) to provide an environment conducive to a healthy and safe learning experience, to protect the university's human resources, real property, and preserve the environment. More than just a mission statement, EHS is committed to ensuring a fire-safe environment for all Kutztown University students, faculty, staff, and guests through fire prevention, inspection, education, and fire protection systems.

Information related to KU's fire safety efforts has been prepared to increase your awareness of the programs and features that exist to assist you in ensuring your safety and well-being. Kutztown University's Annual Fire Safety Report contains information with respect to statistics concerning the number of fires in campus residence facilities. The report includes the cause of each fire, the number of injuries and deaths related to a fire, and the value of property damaged by a fire, as required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008.

In order for our fire safety efforts to be effective, EHS maintains a close working relationship with the following units: Public Safety & Police Services, Housing and Residential Services (HARS), Facilities Maintenance and Construction, and the Kutztown Fire Department. These organizations and agencies provide the resources and expertise to support the mission of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

Actions in case of a Fire

Should a fire occur in a Kutztown University building, the occupant should:

  • Alert others to the fire by immediately activating the fire alarm system by pulling the nearest fire alarm pull station
  • Notify Public Safety & Police Services (KUPD) at (610) 683-4001

The university police will initiate a response and, if warranted, notify the fire department immediately. If a member of the KU community believes the fire has been extinguished, and the person is not sure if a KUPD response has been initiated, the community member should immediately notify the police in order to investigate/verify the fire is out and document the incident.

Fire alarm systems are designed to alert building occupants of a fire or other emergency within the building. All occupants shall respond to a fire alarm signal by evacuating the building immediately, utilizing the closest and safest exit and/or stairwell that leads outside. Occupants should make it a habit to familiarize themselves with primary and alternate exit pathways in each building; emergency evacuation route maps are posted in all campus buildings. Only through immediate-decisive action can the occupant aid their own survival.

Use of elevators during a fire alarm condition should be avoided; occupants should use the stairs to evacuate the building. If you are caught in an elevator that stops during a fire alarm condition, remain calm and push the emergency button or access the emergency phone in the elevator cab to alert responders that you need help. The emergency phones in campus elevators automatically call the university police.

Unwanted alarms in campus buildings and residence facilities occasionally occur from a variety of causes such as maintenance activities, construction, (infrequent) system malfunction, and occupant tampering; never dismiss the importance of responding immediately to a fire alarm sounding in the building. The university police and/or fire department will investigate and clear the alarm as soon as practical and permit occupants to return to the building when it is deemed safe to do so.


 

Fire Protection Systems

Nearly every Kutztown University building is protected by automatic fire alarm systems; that is, should a fire occur in the building, smoke or heat sensors will detect the fire, automatically sound the alarm and transmit it to Public Safety & Police Services. All university residence facilities are protected by automatic fire alarm systems. All automatic fire alarm systems are constantly monitored by Public Safety & Police Services staff.

All residence halls and numerous education/general purpose buildings at Kutztown University are equipped with automatic fire sprinkler systems. These sprinkler systems may include dry-pipe systems in spaces prone to sub-freezing temperatures, fire hose connections in stairways of taller buildings, fire pumps to increase pressure and flow, and multiple hose connection points for the fire department, to meet applicable code requirements. All sprinkler systems are monitored through the building fire alarm system and will trigger the fire alarm if sprinkler activation occurs. For more information about the fire safety systems in Kutztown University's residence facilities, click here.

Safety Inspections

The Office of Environmental Health and Safety, in conjunction with Housing and Residential Services staff, performs periodic safety inspections in all on-campus residence halls. EHS performs inspections of all common spaces in each building, which include lobbies, corridors, restrooms, stairwells, recreation or special use areas, as well as mechanical rooms. The inspections include, but are not limited to: a visual inspection of fire extinguishers, fire sprinkler components and valves, life safety devices such as exit signs and panic hardware on doors, and fire alarm devices.

In addition to inspections performed by campus personnel, the university contracts with qualified vendors to perform inspection and testing of building fire alarm and suppression systems. Residence Hall systems are inspected and tested biannually.


Fire/Evacuation Drills

 

- Residence Halls  

One method to train occupants and observe student and staff behavior when the fire alarm sounds is to conduct evacuation drills. Fire evacuation drills are conducted in the residence halls twice each semester.  Evacuation drills are conducted in the residence halls four times each year; the day and time of the drills is varied, as is the order of the drills. These drills are unannounced, and occasionally include "blocked" exits, or "smoked" hallways to alter the egress paths and challenge the occupants. Each drill is evaluated and documented noting the number of evacuees, time to evacuate, and other factors such as leadership of the residence staff, proper selection of egress pathways, closing of doors to rooms, assembly at the rally point outside, etc.

The Office of Environmental Health & Safety schedules these drills in conjunction with the Office of Housing & Residential Services and the Department of Public Safety & Police Services who assist us to help ensure the proper response by occupants and to address questions/concerns during and after the drill. Student behavioral issues are reported to Housing staff; students are held accountable and may be asked to attend informational sessions in the event of non-compliance.

- Academic/General Purpose Buildings

Fire evacuation drills are conducted in academic and general purpose buildings once each semester. While these drills are announced in the Daily Brief, the order, day, and time of the drills are varied.  All drills are evaluated and documented noting the number of evacuees, time to evacuate, and other factors such as occupant knowledge of nearest exit or exit stair, knowing what to do, and assembly outside the building at a safe distance. 

Environmental Health & Safety coordinates with Public Safety and Police Services who provide assistance with monitoring the effectiveness of the drills and to ensure proper response by the occupants.

The day and time of the drills is varied, as is the order of the drills. These drills are unannounced, and occasionally include "blocked" exits, or "smoked" hallways to alter the egress paths and challenge the occupants to find another way out of the building. These drills are evaluated and scored based on number of evacuees, time to evacuate, and other factors such as proper selection of egress path, closing of doors to rooms, assembly at the rally point outside, etc.

Evacuation drills also serve as a test of the fire alarm systems and permit brief safety inspections of the facilities; if deficiencies are noted, they are acted on immediately.

The following links take you to the Kutztown University guidelines and policies related to emergency evacuation from campus buildings.

Guidelines for Emergency Building Evacuation: Persons with Disabilities
Emergency Evacuation And Fire Drills Non-Residence Buildings
Residence Hall Fire and Evacuation Drill Procedures


Training / Educational Opportunities

Professional and student Residence Life staff receives the majority of their fire safety training from EHS at the start of each academic year. This training is provided during the Residence Life student staff development that occurs in the two weeks preceding the start of fall semester.

Student staff is provided with information regarding their building fire safety features as well as University policies and procedures. Additionally, the staff obtains first-hand knowledge on how the fire alarm and sprinkler systems function, an introduction on the use of fire extinguishers, proper procedures for building evacuation, as well as fire prevention tips and hazards to watch for in the Resident Halls.

Updates to this training may occur prior to the start of spring semester, if requested by Housing & Residential Services. Additionally, video training programs are made available for building staff meetings and EHS staff is available for presentations in the halls during every semester.

- Other Educational Materials
On-line Fire Extinguisher Training

Programs and Policies

In addition to the services provided by the Office of Environmental, Health and Safety, the Kutztown University Office of Housing and Residential Services has posted polices and rules on their web page under: Policies.


Improvements in fire safety at Kutztown University.

Three KU Residence Halls received new fire protection systems between the years 2012 and 2015.  Lehigh Hall underwent a complete renovation in 2012- 2013 and Schuylkill Hall received a complete life cycle renovation in 2013-2014 that included upgrades to the fire sprinklers as well as new fire alarm systems.  Berks Hall renovations were completed in 2014-2015.  The fire alarm systems in the three buildings protected the occupants for over 20 years and, although the sprinkler systems are about 10-years old, updating these fire protection systems as part of the renovations process ensures these systems meet current code requirements.

The fire alarm system in the Stratton Administration Building will see an upgrade in 2015; this system will also add mass notification capability to the building. 


 

Fire Prevention in University Residence Facilities

- To ensure a fire safe environment, the following are prohibited in Residence Halls according to policy established by Housing and Residential Services:

All open flames, including candles and incense, hot coil electrical devices, and decorative string lights of any kind are PROHIBITED in residence halls and apartments.

Cooking devices, other than a micro-fridge unit, are prohibited in traditional and suite-style residence hall rooms. However, cooking appliances with sealed or enclosed heating elements are permitted in the apartments. Examples are: crock pots, electric fondue pots, airstream ovens, hot dog cookers, fry pans, auto shut-off coffee makers, popcorn poppers, and microwave ovens. 

Appliances with tip-over automatic shut-offs may also be used in the apartment units.

- Smoking of any kind is not permitted in any residence hall, apartment, or suite, including student rooms and courtyards.

 "The Key" Student Handbook

The Key - Student Handbook, published by the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, addresses fire safety for students living in on-campus housing facilities. Information specific to Residence Hall Fire Safety Policies can be found in Chapter Three (3).

Other policies and procedures in effect, relating to fire safety at Kutztown University, include the following:

Fireworks, Open Fires and Charcoal Grills
Emergency Response and Evacuation Plans for KU 


Notifications in case of fire - Residence Halls 

In the event of a fire in a Residence Hall, immediately notify Public Safety and Police Services. Fires can be reported by anyone, regardless of the individual's association with the university.  Custodians, maintenance repair personnel, housing staff, and students should report all fires to the university police as soon as they are discovered.

University Police Department
Department of Public Safety & Police Services - Phone 34001

In addition, Residence Life staff shall follow-up with notifications to the following individuals or departments:
Residence Hall Director or Residence Coordinator
Housing & Residential Services - Phone 34027
Director, Housing & Residential Services
Housing & Residential Services - Phone 34027
Director, Environmental, Health & Safety - or
Office of Environmental, Health & Safety - Phone 34050

Assistant Director, Environmental, Health & Safety
Office of Environmental, Health & Safety - Phone 64237

Emergency Contact Numbers

Police, Medical or Fire - dial 34001 (Emergency)
Public Safety and Police Services - dial 610-683-4002 or Ext 34002 (non-emergency)
Health & Wellness Services - dial Ext 34082 or 610-683-4082
Environmental, Health & Safety - dial Ext 34050 or 610-683-4050


 

Links to more information on Campus Fire Safety

Focus on Fire Safety Residential Sprinklers and Student Housing Fire Safety
Fire Safety for Students with Disabilities at Institutions of Higher Education
Center for Campus Fire Safety
A Safety and Prevention Resource - IGot2Kno
Live Safe

College Fire Science

Campus Fire Safety Month 

Observed in September each Year

National Campus Fire Safety Month Fire Safety It's Part of Living

Print Version of this Report