Fire Safety, Fire Prevention & Fire Alarms

Related Policy: Fire and Life Safety Devices in the Residence Halls, Student Responsibilities, Procedures and Policy

Effective fire prevention occurs only when individuals are aware of the principal causes of fires and take certain simple steps to eliminate them. For residents’ safety, individual rooms are equipped with electrically powered, individual single-station smoke detectors with 9 volt battery backup. If a detector is making a chirping sound, it means that a new battery is needed. Please contact the Campus Safety Office, immediately and at any time, to have the battery replaced. Batteries will be replaced 24 hours a day – 7 days a week. Additionally, all public spaces in residence halls are equipped with smoke detectors and manual-pull stations, both of which set off the building alarms. These directly alert Campus Safety of the emergency. If the alarm in a student’s room is triggered, the building alarms will not activate until either the student uses the pull-station or the smoke from the student’s room activates a smoke alarm in the public halls. Haverford College has installed automatic fire sprinklers in all residence halls on campus (up campus and at HCA). Fire sprinklers provide the highest level of life safety protection available.

Fire Safety

The College expects students to cooperate fully in maintaining a safe living environment on campus.

Anyone who disables or renders ineffective smoke alarms or other fire safety equipment or who set a fire of any sort will be putting their campus residential privileges and even their continuance as a Haverford student in jeopardy. Safety inspections will be carried out randomly to insure the integrity of the fire safety systems. There will be no punitive action if you call to report a nonworking alarm or even one which you suspect might not be working properly, for any reason. Students are to immediately call Campus Safety (610-896-1111) who will respond immediately 24/7 to repair smoke alarms. If you have any questions about any aspect of dorm fire safety equipment, please do not hesitate to contact Mark Sweeney ( or 610-896-1111), the College’s Safety Coordinator.

Students are responsible for keeping all stairways, corridors, and doorways free of belongings as these areas are emergency exits. Belongings of any type, including bicycles, left in these areas will for safety reasons be confiscated and removed from the area.

Violations of College these policies and other related policies and procedures are treated with the highest priority and carry serious consequences. Anyone found to have tampered with or otherwise rendered ineffective any smoke detector or other fire/life safety equipment – including the defacement of hallway exit signs, falsely activating fire alarms, discharging fire extinguishers, and activating fire suppression/sprinkler systems – in the residence halls, houses, and apartments WILL face the loss of their campus housing privileges. Depending on the circumstances, further action may be taken.

There will be no punitive action if a student calls to report an accidentally damaged or nonworking alarm or other fire or life safety device or even one which you suspect might not be working properly. In the case of accidental damage the student responsible will, however, be asked to pay the cost of the necessary repairs. Students are to call Campus Safety (610-896-1111) who will respond immediately 24/7 to repair smoke alarms. If you have any questions about any aspect of dorm fire safety equipment, please do not hesitate to contact Mark Sweeney ( or 610-896-1111), the College’s Safety Coordinator.

Cause of Fires

Fire can exist wherever there are combustible materials and some means of bringing them to kindling temperature. Too often, fires start because we allow these conditions to exist through ignorance or inaction. Some of the most common causes of fires at college include candles, careless smokers, over-burdened electrical outlets, cooking in dorm rooms, halogen lamps, exposed light bulbs, cigarettes, overloaded extension cords and smoking in bed.

The College prohibits the burning of candles, hot-plates, large refrigerators (in dorms without kitchens) and large high-wattage electrical appliances in College housing as these things can easily overload the electrical system and are known fire hazards and are a source of serious college fires. Also prohibited is the use of halogen lamps and exposed light bulbs as they have the potential to easily ignite wood, paper, and cloth. Students must not overload electrical outlets with extension cords or gang electrical strips and may never crush plugs or wires against electrical outlets with beds or other furnishings, as these have been a source of serious college fires. An electrical fire can burn for hours unnoticed in the wall before breaking through and feeding on the oxygen and combustibles in the room.

Only safe, low-wattage appliances may be used in College housing: shavers, lamps, radios, televisions, stereos, computers, electric blankets, thermostatically controlled coffee makers and the like.

In those locations where smoking in permitted, if anyone in a student’s room or apartment smokes, they should always use well-balanced, fireproof ashtrays —wastebaskets or combustible containers must never be used. Cigarettes of any kind, cigars, and anything else that is burned can easily fall into cracks in furniture or smolder at the bottom of a wastebasket and go completely undetected until a dangerous fire has started. Often the signs of such a fire do not appear until the room or apartment is vacant or, in the most tragic cases, until the occupants are asleep. Before leaving the room or going to bed, make sure there are no burning materials in ashtrays or wastebaskets. Smoking in bed should NEVER be done as the cigarette and/or its ash can ignite the mattress and/or bedding and causes just the kind of smoldering fire that kills without warning. For safety reasons, fire doors must always remain closed to prevent the spread of fires and should never be wedged open.

While the College does not prohibit the burning of incense at this time, it should be used with great care. Burning incense should not be placed on or next to combustible surfaces or left unattended. Not everyone enjoys the smell of incense and the smoke may be an irritant to those with allergies. Students should always check with fellow dorm area residents before using incense. Burning of incense is not permitted in designated smoke-free residence halls.

Office of the Dean of the College