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This page contains descriptions and definitions for frequently used terms in fire safety and prevention.

Certified technician: Individuals who have met competency requirements (through education or years of experience) and have passed an exam process verifying their knowledge, skills and ability to install and/or perform a service on a specific type of hardware, equipment or system.

Construction types: Buildings and structures erected or to be erected, altered, or extended in height or area shall be classified in one of the five construction types defined in the International Building Code. 

  • Non-combustible Construction - are those types of construction in which the building elements are of noncombustible materials (i.e. concrete and steel)
  • Ordinary Construction - is that type of construction in which the exterior walls are of noncombustible materials and the interior building elements are wood framing. 
  • Heavy Timber Construction - is that type of construction (Heavy Timber, HT) in which the exterior walls are of noncombustible materials and the interior building elements are of solid or laminated wood.
  • Wood Frame Construction - is that type of construction in which the structural elements, exterior walls and interior walls are of any material permitted by code; generally wood, gypsum board, etc.
  • Fire-resistive Construction - is that type of construction in which the floors, walls, roof, and other components are built exclusively of noncombustible materials, with fire-endurance ratings equal to or greater than those mandated by codes (i.e. steel and concrete with sprayed-on fire resistive coatings.)

Fire: Any instance of open flame or other burning in a place not intended to contain the burning or in an uncontrolled manner.

Fire (evacuation) drill: A mandatory-supervised practice evacuation of a building for a fire or other emergency requiring the building to be vacated.

Fire related death: Any instance in which a person is killed as a result of a fire, including death resulting from a natural or accidental cause while involved in fire control, attempting rescue, or escaping from the dangers of a fire, or deaths that occur within one (1) year of injuries sustained as a result of the fire.

Fire related injury: Any instance in which a person is injured as a result of a fire, including an injury sustained from a natural or accidental cause while involved in fire control, attempting rescue, or escaping from the dangers of the fire. The term "person" may include students, faculty, staff, visitors, firefighters, or any other individuals. For purposes of this report, the injuries sustained must have resulted in treatment at a medical facility, including the Kutztown University Health and Wellness Center.

Fire safety systemAny mechanism or system related to the detection of a fire, the warning resulting from a fire, or the control of a fire including: Sprinkler or other fire extinguishing systems, Fire detection devices, standalone smoke alarms, devices that alert one to the presence of a fire, such as horns, bells, or strobe lights, smoke control and reduction mechanisms, and Fire doors and walls that reduce the spread of a fire.

Fire Severity: Fires that occur in Kutztown University residence halls have been classified into four categories, based on value of property damage as well as injuries and/or fatalities related to the incident:

  • Incidental - Minimal or No Property Damage and no injuries
  • Minor - Less than $100 Damage and no injuries
  • Major - $100 - $100,000 Damage with fire related injuries
  • Large Loss - Damage >$100,000 with serious injury or fatality

NFPA (NFPA- National Fire Protection Association):  A nonprofit organization whose mission is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically based consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

NICET-Certified Inspection Technicians: (NICET Inspection and Testing of Water-Based Systems) - this certification establishes the competency for those technicians who are engaged in the physical and mechanical aspects of inspection, testing, and maintenance of water-based fire suppression systems.

Passive fire protection: Passive fire protection (PFP), despite its name, is always at work. Based on compartmentalization of fire and preventing collapse through structural fire resistance, when properly installed and maintained, the building's passive fire protection can save lives and assets, and the building itself.  Examples of passive fire protection are:

  1. Structural fire protection: Guards essential structural components (such as structural steel and joint systems) from the effects of fire.
  2. Fire stopping materials: Materials used to limit fire spread through penetrations in a fire barrier.
  3. Compartmentalization: Fire barriers, firewalls, fire partitions, and smoke barriers are all included in compartmentalization. Fire barriers include fire-rated walls, floors, and ceilings (often made of concrete, combination wood, gypsum, or masonry). These barriers are used to limit the spread of fire in a building and allow safe egress.
  4. Opening protection: Fire doors and windows are installed in an opening of a fire barrier to maintain its fire resistance.  Doors and frames work together to form an effective smoke and fire barrier. Fire-rated glass and framing are tested as a complete assembly that maintains the protection of the fire barrier. Additionally, fire and smoke dampers (often used in duct systems) are considered "opening protection" and complete the fire barrier where air ducts penetrate fire-rated and/or smoke-resistant assemblies.

Qualified vendor: A pre-qualified vendor who markets or services third-party products/systems that a manufacturer has authorized, through factory approved training or other experience, to maintain their products or systems. 

Smoke control/fire doors:

Fire Doors: A type of door used as part of the passive fire protection system within the building to prevent the spread of fire or smoke between separate sections or floors.  This building is equipped with both self closing fire doors that must be kept closed at all times and doors held open by magnets.  The magnetic holders release the doors, allowing them to close, when the building fire alarm sounds.

Smoke Control Doors: Smoke control doors are installed to limit smoke spread.  By limiting smoke spread in escape routes, the chances of occupants being harmed by smoke is reduced.   

Value of Property Damage: The estimated value of the loss of the structure and contents, in terms of the cost of replacement in like kind and quantity, including: contents damaged by fire, related damages caused by smoke, water, and overhaul, however it does not include indirect loss, such as business interruption.

Vertical Phased Evacuation: In larger-complex premises, such as KU's Dixon Hall, the emergency evacuation arrangements are designed to allow people who are not at immediate risk from a fire to delay starting their evacuation. The fire alarm system is configured to initially evacuate only the area closest to the fire, while alerting the other occupants to stand by. This is normally done by immediately evacuating the floor where the fire is located as well as the floors above and below. The other floors are then evacuated when necessary, to avoid congestion in the escape routes. The fire alarm system is capable of giving two distinctly different signals (warning and evacuation) and voice messages simultaneously.

Voice Mass Notification System: All residence buildings, except Golden Bear Village West apartments and Honors Hall, are equipped with voice fire alarm systems, which are also used as the emergency notification system within the building.  Emergency messages (e.g. Evacuation, severe storm, lock-down, etc.) can be broadcast via the voice fire alarm system to residence buildings individually, or simultaneously.