Fire & Life Safety
It is our mission to reduce fire-related emergencies at the University through oversite, inspection, and education. Many such emergencies are caused by a lack of knowledge in fire safety and fire prevention. Learn the risks posed by the chemicals you use in your laboratory, and take appropriate precautions:
- Use chemicals from properly-labeled containers (e.g.: those using the NFPA 704 Standard), and consult a chemical’s MSDS when available.
- Keep containers of flammable chemicals tightly closed when not in use.
- Use flammable liquids under a fume hood to prevent the build-up of ignitable vapor/air mixtures and to keep you from inhaling poisonous gases.
- Use special care when handling liquids with flash points below 100°F / 38°C (Flammability 3) as they can increase the risk of fire in an otherwise normal laboratory environment.
- Avoid placing ignition sources (e.g.: flames, sparking equipment, hot materials) near flammable liquids. Replace open flames with electric heaters whenever possible.
- Ground any equipment that can produce a static spark.
- Contact Fire & Life Safety to learn the additional safety measures you must use when heating flammable/combustable liquids at or above their flash points.
- Read the Compressed Gases/Cryogens section of the Chemical and Hazardous Materials Safety Manual (PDF, 446KB) to learn about the special fire hazards presented by compressed or liquefied gases.
Corridors and Exits
All University laboratories are built to meet the Uniform Building Code and the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code exit requirements for corridors, stairs, doors, etc This allows you to evacuate quickly and safely in an emergency; it also allows rescue workers to get to you quickly in the event that you’re unable to move. To keep our evacuation routes open and usable:
- Keep corridors free from obstructions.
- Do not store flammable or combustible chemicals in corridors.
- Never block nor wedge open a corridor door.
- Keep exit doors fully accessible and free of obstructions. This includes the floor on both sides of an exit door.
- All holes made in walls and floors (e.g.: for pipes, for electrical conduits, for wiring, or for ducts) must be properly sealed with University-approved fire-stopping materials.
Store flammable or combustible liquids (including waste solvents in quantities over ten gallons) inside University-approved flammable liquid storage cabinets. Place these cabinets where they can’t obstruct your exit in an emergency.
Do not modify safety cans.
They are specially constructed to make both dispensing chemicals and collecting waste much safer: Safety cans are built from stainless steel or tin. Both the filling and pouring spouts are protected with a spring-loaded cap and a flame arrestor. The double-perforated surface of the arrestor keeps flames from entering the can.
Store flammable liquids and explosives inside University-approved refrigerators, designed for this purpose, when you must refrigerate these types of chemicals. Clearly identify such refrigerators using labels provided by Fire & Life Safety.
Do not store these types of chemicals in standard refrigerators. Commercially-available, domestic refrigerators contain a variety of ignition sources, including light bulbs, switches, temperature controls, standard plugs, motor-starting relays, thermal-overload devices, and frost-control heater strips.
Space Heaters (PDF, 59KB)
We are responsible for inspecting all University buildings to ensure they comply with applicable fire safety codes and life safety codes. Fire & Life Safety notifies the responsible department when we find a violation, so it can be corrected. Along with the University Police, we investigate any fire that happens on campus, both to discover its cause and to determine how it can be prevented from happening again.
You can help keep your building safe by staying aware of hazards such as:
- The improper use of extension cords.
- The improper use of smoking materials.
- The improper storage of flammable materials.
- The use of corridors for storage.
Please contact Fire & Life Safety when
- You have any questions about the fire safety or life safety of your building.
- There has been a fire in your work area and we (or the University Police) have not yet investigated it.
- You notice anyone creating a fire hazard or life safety hazard, e.g.: setting fires, tampering with fire alarms, etc (You can also contact the University Police.)
- You have any questions on this topic or need training on this topic.
Facilities Management (FM), EH&S, and each University department are responsible for ensuring that every facility at UT Dallas complies with applicable design, construction, and remodeling safety codes for that type of facility (e.g.: dormitory, laboratory, lecture hall, etc ) FM/EH&S carry out inspections, review plans, and communicate with both regulators and University officials to make sure we have safe facilities.
In the design stage, every area of a facility must be given an occupancy classification consistent with how it will be used. This ensures that a facility will be constructed with all the features it needs to be compliant with the safety codes for its class. Such features may include:
- Fire separation walls, floors, ceilings, and doors.
- Fire alarm systems.
- Fire suppression systems and fire dampers.
- Illuminated exit signs and emergency lighting.
- Emergency showers and eye washes.
Please contact EH&S at the design stage if you need to change the way any area in your facility will be used, as such changes require our approval.
Facilities Management provides estimates for both remodeling and construction projects. FM coordinates with EH&S on every project to review its compliance with federal, state, and local codes and regulations that apply to life safety.
When a project encounters a practical difficulty in carrying out the letter of a code, regulation, or standard; FM/EH&S may allow for a modification on a case-by-case basis, so long as the intent and purpose of that standard is maintained. No modifications that lessen a structure’s fire-protection or structural integrity will be allowed. All modifications will be documented in the FM/EH&S project file.
Fire Alarm Tests
We test our fire alarm system at least once a year.
Unlike a fire drill, you do not need to evacuate your building during this test. The first part of the test causes all fire alarm bells and horns to sound, and usually lasts about 3-5 minutes. The second part of the test is silent. If you notice a bell or horn that does not sound off during the test, please contact us or speak directly to the EH&S staff conducting the test.
Any part of the fire alarm system that fails this test is given the repair it requires as soon as possible.
Fire Alarm System Specifications (PDF, 194KB)
The University fire alarm system is continuously monitored by a Tyco SimplexGrinnell information management system (IMS). This IMS operates on a fiber optic loop connected to every building fire panel on the Richardson campus. All 52 of UTD’s buildings have primary reporting to the University Police and secondary reporting to EH&S and Emergency Management. 46 of 52 buildings have a Class A reporting loop for redundancy via a Simplex Grinnnell IMS fire system network. 6 of 52 buildings have Class B reporting via class B fiber optics or a Digital Alarm Communication Transmitter ƔDACT), due to non-network hardware or distance constraints (south campus.) Fire & Life Safety overseess over 25,000 alarm initiating and indicating devices, over 1,000 portable fire extinguishers, and 38 buildings with fire sprinkler systems, as well as 14 special hazard systems.
Fire sprinklers are an important part of the fire protection system in all University buildings. They are sensitive to rising temperatures, and when triggered, spread water to both suppress a fire and keep it from spreading, as well as activating the fire alarm. Water from our fire sprinklers can leave behind oily stains on anything it contacts.
As with our fire alarms, our fire sprinklers are checked on a regular basis.
Fire sprinklers can be damaged when bumped, or when something is hung from the sprinkler head or sprinkler pipe. Repair costs for damaged sprinklers are paid by the responsible department.
We run fire drills at least twice a year in student housing, and at least once a year for all other University buildings. Fire drills help you become familiar with:
- The sound of a fire alarm.
- Emergency exits.
- Evacuation procedures.
You will be expected to treat any fire drill as if it were a real fire and to evacuate when you hear the alarm.
Evacuation Floor Plans (ZIP, 4.11MB)
Classroom / Hands-On Training
Often your best option in a fire is to just evacuate and call for help, but sometimes using a fire extinguisher is a good option. Fire & Life Safety offers fire extinguisher training. Our class teaches:
- How to decide whether using a fire extinguisher is the right option.
- What type of fire extinguisher to use against different types of fires.
- How to properly use a fire extinguisher.
Please contact Fire & Life Safety to schedule a training session.
Have an Exit Strategy: Students
- Message from the Minger Foundation (WMV, 1.83MB)
- Carbon Monoxide (WMV, 3.41MB)
- Smoke Detection (WMV, 1.67MB)
- Have an Exit Strategy, Audio (728KB)
- Talking About Campus Fire Safety with Landlords (PDF, 93KB)
- Talking About Campus Fire Safety with School Officials (PDF, 88KB)
- Cooking 101 (PDF, 235KB)
- Fatal Fire at SUNY Plattsburg (PDF, 88KB)
- Fire Prevention and Fire Plans (PDF, 931KB)
- Winter Season Fire Prevention Messages (PDF, 66KB)
- Moving-In Day Fire Safety Messages (PDF, 111KB)
- Fraternities & Sprinklers, Part 1 (PDF, 2.05MB)
- Fraternities & Sprinklers, Part 2 (PDF, 2.05MB)
- Fraternity Fires (PDF, 572KB)
- Candle Safety (PDF, 288KB)
- How Fire Extinguishers Work (PDF, 284KB)
- Smoking and Fire Safety (PDF, 280KB)
- Chemical Suicides on Campus (PDF, 503KB)
- Carbon Monoxide Detection (PDF, 144KB)
- Air Conditioning Safety (PDF, 44KB)
- Carbon Monoxide Safety (PDF, 74KB)
- Electrical Safety, Part 1 (PDF, 174KB)
- Electrical Safety, Part 2 (PDF, 53KB)
- Escape Plans (PDF, 114KB)
- Space Heaters (PDF, 173KB)
- Office Fire Safety (PDF, 58KB)
- Preventing Cooking Fires (PDF, 63KB)
- PoolSafety (PDF, 68KB)
- Safe Heating (PDF, 41KB)
- Setting Up Your New living Space (PDF, 242KB)
- Smoke Alarms, Part 1 (PDF, 80KB)
- Smoke Alarms, Part 2 (PDF, 55KB)
- Space Heater Safety (PDF, 58KB)
- ‘Have an Exit Strategy’ Brochure (PDF, 156KB)
Have an Exit Strategy: Faculty and Staff
- 7 Steps to Reducing False Fire Alarms (PDF, 45KB)
- Campus Fire Prevention (PDF, 100KB)
- Expanded University Responsibilities (PDF, 95KB)
- Summer Inspections, Testing, & Maintenance (PDF, 196KB)
- Wastebaskets, Part 1 (PDF, 112KB)
- Wastebaskets, Part 2 (PDF, 38KB)
- Fire Doors, Part 1 (PDF, 180KB)
- Fire Doors, Part 2 (PDF, 123KB)
- Fire Protection Engineers (PDF, 38KB)
- Carbon Monoxide Detection (PDF, 137KB)
- Dormitory Fires, Part 1 (PDF, 12.72MB)
- Dormitory Fires, Part 2 (PDF, 38KB)
- Fire Sprinklers, Part 1 (PDF, 143KB)
- Fire Sprinklers, Part 2 (PDF, 89KB)
- Fire Sprinklers, Part 3 (PDF, 78KB)
For More Information
- US Fire Administration
- Campus Fire Watch
- Center for Campus Fire Safety
- Congressional Fire Services Institute
- International Association of Fire Chiefs
- International Association of Fire Fighters
- International Code Council
- International Fire Marshals Association
- National Association of Fire Marshals
- National Electrial Manufacturers Association
- National Fire Protection Association
- National Fire Sprinkler Association
- Ultimate Guide to Fire Safety
- Have an Exit Strategy
- The Renters Guide