Campus Fire Safety Information

In accordance with the 2009 changes to the Higher Education Opportunity Act, institutions like Pacific Lutheran University that maintain on-campus housing, shall, on an annual basis, publish a fire safety report [Section 668.41(e)].  For compliance purposes this report is contained in this section of Pacific Lutheran University’s Annual Security Report of the Campus Clery Compliance report.  In accordance with the law the complete report’s name has been changed to Pacific Lutheran University’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

Reporting a fire is everyone’s responsibility. Maintaining a fire-safe environment is critical to preserving research work, business records and facilities, as well as the personal safety of every member of our community. All fires that present a risk to persons or property should be reported immediately to PLU Campus Safety at ext. 7911 or notifying Central Pierce Fire and Rescue by dialing 911. Additionally, concerns about fire that are not considered an emergency may be reported to the Residence Hall Director, Residential Hall Assistant, Emergency Building Coordinator, Facilities Management or Environmental, Health and Safety.

Yes. However, we have been fortunate not to have a fatal fire or one that has destroyed an entire building.
PLU engineers have responded to reports of smoke to find a mug warmer turned on and stashed in someone’s desk drawer.

According to Cleaning Services personnel, it is relatively common to find coffee pots left turned on. PLU has had a fire start from a malfunctioning piece of electrical equipment and an overloaded extension cord. The fire department has also responded numerous times to smoke from unknown sources. When investigated, we have found pinched or damaged electrical cords still in use.

A number of years ago, we even had a fire in a residence hall. Fortunately, it was very localized and no one was injured. All of these experiences alert us to the possibility of a devastating fire and and appreciation that we all have never had an injured person from a fire on campus. It also helps to remember how to prevent fires.

  • Place materials at least 18 inches away from heat sources.
  • Turn off or unplug electrical appliances, such as coffee makers, at the end of the day.
  • Do not overload the electrical system by plugging too many items into an outlet.
  • Do not use candles or incense in PLU facilities.

  • Learn to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Keep exit corridors and stairs free of clutter.
  • Keep fire doors closed.
  • Participate in fire drills.
  • Review the evacuation routes posted in each building.
  • Review the Emergency Procedures Handbook.

  • Get out of the building and evacuate to the appropriate Emergency Assembly Point.
  • Call Campus Safety at ext. 7911.

Cause of Fire: The factor or factors that give rise to a fire. The causal factor may be, but is not limited to, the result of an intentional or unintentional action, mechanical failure, or act of nature.

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

Fire drill: A supervised practice of a mandatory evacuation of a building for a 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, employees, visitors, firefighters, or any other individuals.

Fire-related death: Any instance in which a person-(1) 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 (2) Dies within one year of injuries sustained as a result of the fire.

Fire safety system: Any mechanism or system related to the detection of a fire, the warning resulting from a fire, or the control of a fire. This may include: sprinkler systems or other fire extinguishing systems, fire detection devices, stand-alone 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.

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. This estimate should include: contents damaged by fire, and related damages caused by smoke, water, and overhaul; however, it does not include indirect loss, such as business interruption.

Annual fire safety report:  Beginning by October 1, 2010, an institution that maintains any on campus student housing facility must prepare an annual fire safety report that contains, at a minimum, the following information:

Fire statistics:  An institution must report statistics for each on campus student housing facility, for the three most recent calendar years for which data are available, concerning – number of fires and the cause of each fire; the number of persons who received fire-related injuries that resulted in treatment at a medical facility, including at an on-campus health center; number of deaths related to a fire; and value of property damage caused by a fire. Submit a copy of the fire statistics to the Secretary on an annual basis.

Fire log: An institution that maintains on-campus student housing facilities must maintain a written, easily understood fire log that records, by the date that the fire was reported, any fire that occurred in an on-campus student housing facility.  This log must include the nature, date, time, and general location of each fire. An institution must make an entry or an addition to an entry to the log within two business days of the receipt of the information. An institution must make the fire log for the most recent 60-day period open to public inspection during normal business hours. The institution must make any portion of the log older than 60 days available within two business days of a request for public inspection.

Annual Report: An institution must make an annual report to the campus community on the fires recorded in the fire log. This requirement may be satisfied by the annual fire safety report:  A description of each on-campus student housing facility fire safety system; number of fire drills held during the previous calendar year; the institution’s policies or rules on portable electrical appliances, smoking, and open flames in a student housing facility; the institution’s procedures for student housing evacuation in the case of a fire; policies regarding fire safety education and training programs provided to the students and employees; description of the procedures that students and employees should follow in the case of a fire; a list of the titles of each person or organization to which students and employees should report that a fire occurred; plans for future improvements in fire safety, if determined necessary by the institution.

1.    No items can block the entrance of a room (doors or windows); items must be 36-inches away from entrances. This allows a fire fighter the ability to enter a room in an emergency.
2.    Fire doors should not be wedged open. The doors are in place to prevent the spread of fire from one part of the building to another. If the doors are propped open, the fire is free to spread.
3.    No items shall be hung from the ceiling and sprinkler pipes in academic, administrative and residential halls.
4.    Items in rooms must have an 18-inch clearance from ceilings and sprinkler pipes.
5.    All flammable materials including furniture and recycling bins must be 18 inches away from a heater. Portable space heaters are not allowed without safety tip-over device.
6.    Combustible materials such as propane, gasoline, kerosene, and items containing combustible materials (i.e., lanterns) are not permitted in administrative and residence halls.
7.    No scooters, hover boards, mopeds, or items with an electrical or gas powered motor are allowed inside PLU buildings. They may be stored at least 25 feet away from the building.
8.    Hallways, stairwells, and lounges must be free of all personal items (including but not limited to: boxes, bicycles, shoes, door mats, shower caddies, etc.) to facilitate emergency egress and response.
9.    All electrical cords must be out in the open. Not taped to floor, not under rugs or carpet pads.
10.    Wall outlets and power strips must not be overloaded. No “daisy chaining” power strips. Extension cords are not permitted.
11.    Personal refrigerators must be plugged directly into the wall and have 2-3 inches of space around them on all sides (not in closets).
12.    Toasters, toaster ovens, bread makers, microwaves, coffee pots, electrical blankets, unapproved window air conditioner, irons, plug-in air freshener and other open element appliances, cannot be used in offices and resident rooms. The risk of fire is too high and the building wiring cannot support them.  Residents can store these items (except microwaves) in their rooms to be used in the common area kitchens.
13.    Smoke detectors must not be covered or obstructed in any way. Tampering with them is a conduct violation and punishable by fines from CPFR.
14.    No burning objects are allowed. This includes: tobacco products, candles and incense.
15.    Halogen lamps are limited to 30 watts or less. They must be kept one foot away from anything flammable and nothing should be hung above them.
16.    Metal trash cans are allowed. Trash containers made of other materials are a fire hazard.
17.    Electrical outlets & lights cannot be altered.
18.    “Holiday” or temporary light decorations may not be left up longer than 90 days.
19.    Only University issued bed / loft equipment may be used to bunk or loft one’s bed.

– Evacuate the building immediately.
– Do not use elevators!
– If smoke is present, keep low to the floor.
– Do not re-enter building until told to do so by Campus Safety or Fire
– Sound fire alarm by pulling closest pull alarm station.
– Immediately evacuate the building.
– Notify Campus Safety by calling x7911 or at emergency “blue” phone.
– Immediately call Campus Safety at x7911.
– Remain calm. Describe what you have observed. Give your name and location.
– Alert RD / RA and prepare for evacuation.
– Supply your name and location of fire.
– Educate yourself to locations of fire alarms and fire extinguishers in
your area and know how to use them.
– Manual alarms are activated by pulling a red fire alarm “pull station”.
– Pull stations are located near all major exits in residential buildings.
– Automated alarms are activated when a sensor detects heat or        smoke.
– Residential halls are equipped with pull stations. If you see a fire and
the alarm has not activated, pull the nearest alarm station as you
leave the residential hall.

•    Legitimate fire alarms save lives. Everyone must evacuate the building when the fire alarm sounds.  Obstructing or discouraging participation in a building evacuation will be subject to disciplinary action.  Any prank, joke or other intentional act involving fire (including alarm covers, alarms, extinguishers or smoke alarms) is prohibited and will be subject to disciplinary action and/or local law enforcement action. False alarms may leave the local fire department shorthanded in the event of a real fire.
•    Before opening a door, feel the upper portion of the door and doorknob. Before touching the door handle, cover your hand for protection. Intense heat, deadly smoke, or gas may be on the other side.
•    If the door is not “hot”, brace yourself against the door and cautiously open it slightly (a few inches) to check for heat, smoke, or flames on the other side. Keep your head out of the way while first opening the door and be ready to slam it shut if any heat or smoke rushes in.
•    If you encounter heat or heavy smoke in the corridor, close door and stay in room.
•    Keep door closed. Seal cracks around the door with clothing, tape or other material, soaking them in water when possible.
•    Hang an object out the window, such as a shirt or towel, or anything that will attract attention.
•    If you can leave the room, close all doors behind you as you move quickly to the closest exit or stairway. If light smoke is present, keep your head low to the floor. Crawl, if you can, so you do not breathe smoke. Do not use the elevator! Do not lock doors!
•    Do not waste time getting dressed, looking for keys, or gathering valuables. Leave the building immediately and stay out.
•    If nearest exit is blocked, go to an alternate exit. If all exits are blocked, go to the room farthest from the fire, close the door and follow procedures above.
•    Alert other occupants of the building and the residence hall staff.
•    After leaving the building, report to your Emergency Assembly Point (EAP). Stay there until an accurate head count has been taken by Emergency Building Coordinator (EBC).  Further instruction will be communicated by the EBC.
•    Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injuries persons unless they are in danger of further injury. Report injuries to Emergency Building Coordinator. Emergency personnel will coordinate all responses to health situations.
•    Do not re-enter the residential hall until cleared by Campus Safety or Fire Department personnel.

•    Take place within the first 10 days of the Fall and Spring term.
•    Time: Between 6:00 to 9:00 P.M.
•    Residential Life coordinates schedules between Resident Directors (RD’s) and Campus Safety.
•    PLU Alarm Technician trains RD’s on how to activate and reset alarms before the drill.
•    Campus Safety provides instructions and evaluation forms to personnel prior to facilitating the residential hall drill.
•    RD’s collect rosters and evaluation forms from personnel at emergency assembly point and submit to Emergency Programs Manager.
•    RD’s provide feedback via evaluation forms to Emergency Programs Manager.
•    Emergency Programs Manager reports results of exercise to Residential Life Director and Emergency Planning Team. As necessary, action plans developed to correct noted deficiencies.

Damaging or tampering with fire alarm apparatus or equipment (i.e., sounding false fire alarms – RCW 9.40.100) is prohibited. Fire extinguishers are strategically located throughout each residence hall. Carefully follow the fire extinguisher procedure instructions and use them only in the event of a fire.

•    Location: Familiarize yourself with the location of fire extinguishers in your residential hall.
•    Type:  ABC
* Multipurpose fire extinguisher: Used for combustibles (i.e. wood,
paper, trash, clothing); flammable liquids (i.e. oils, grease,
gasoline, paints, solvents); and electrical equipment (i.e. wiring,
equipment, fuse boxes, outlets).
•    How to Use:  PASS = Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep
* Pull: Pull and twist to remove the pin.
* Aim: Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire standing back at least eight feet.
* Squeeze: Squeeze the handle to activate the fire extinguisher.
* Sweep: Sweep the fire extinguisher from side to side .
•    Fire extinguisher agent will not last long…only about 10 seconds.
•    Training: The university makes available fire extinguisher training for individuals in all areas of the campus. Contact PLU – Environmental, Health and Safety for training schedule.

Exit signs are considered fire equipment and are placed to guide residents to exit routes in emergency situations. Smoke detectors also are sensitive pieces of fire equipment. Actions that result in the activation of a smoke detector, tampering with fire alarm apparatus and equipment, or false alarms may result in criminal penalties, as well as disciplinary action and/or fines.  Fire alarm apparatus and fire equipment are for emergencies only! Before a fire occurs, you should prepare by knowing the location and route of your escape via the closest exit. A smoke alarm can wake you, but only an escape plan can save you. If a fire occurs, please follow the fire safety procedures outlined in “Fire Alarm and Evacuation Procedures” section.

Because of the risk of burning incense or an open flame left unattended, the use of such is prohibited in residence halls. Candles or lanterns may not be used even in the event of a power outage. Residents are encouraged to have flashlights or similar devices to provide emergency lighting.

  • PLU is a tobacco free campus. Please click here to review PLU policy
  • Washington State law prohibits smoking in public buildings and in campus vehicles. Smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of a building entrance, exit, windows that open, ventilation intake, and other areas through which non-smokers must traverse. Signs are posted on all building entrances and campus vehicles.
  • RCW 70.160 gives the local health department jurisdiction to enforce the state smoking regulation by first issuing a warning. A subsequent violation is subject to a civil fine of up to $100. PLU will take appropriate action to comply with the law on campus.
  • Concerns, questions, and comments should be directed to: Director of Human Resource Services, ext. 7185.

Avoid overloading outlets with too many cords and do not use power strips or cords with frayed wiring or poor connections. Check the wiring and casing on appliances.  The electrical system is not intended for items that place a heavy load on the system, such as microwave ovens and exposed heating element appliances listed in the Residential Hall Fire Safety Policy.  Personal micro-fridge, computer equipment, TV and stereo appliances are approved.  If potential problems exist with wiring or electrical systems notify Facilities Management at ext. 7380.  Additionally, it is recommended that surge protectors be used for stereos and/or computers.

Adhere to all university fire protection and safety standards listed below:

  • Do not keep highly flammable materials in the apartment.
  • Keep all escape routes (entryways, hallways, or passageways) accessible.
  • Do not use any appliances or electrical items that have frayed or damaged electrical wires.
  • Keep all papers, boxes, cloth, electrical cords, and furniture at least 18 inches away from heaters.
  • Do not burn candles.
  • Do not smoke in the apartment.

Tamper-proof smoke alarms are located on the ceiling/wall in throughout the residential hall; learn where they are located. When the alarm is set off, it will make a loud piercing sound. Tampering with smoke detectors will result in disciplinary action, including a fine and/or eviction. Excessive amounts of smoke from cooking or excessive amounts of steam from the bathroom may activate the smoke alarm. Fire alarm apparatus and fire equipment are for emergencies only!

Before a fire occurs, the resident should prepare by taking the following steps:

  • Know the location and route of escape. A smoke alarm can wake you, but only an escape plan can save you.
  • Train family members to recognize the alarm signal and how to respond.

Campus Residential Fire Safety education is an ongoing responsibility of Student Life Division, Campus Safety and Emergency Programs. As part of the educational process a residential hall fire safety guide is provided to resident directors, resident assistants and residents and is posted in every residential hall. The Pacific Lutheran University community is invited to attend training in fire safety and fire extinguisher education annually in the Spring of each year.

Pacific Lutheran University maintains on-campus housing, and must, on an annual basis, publish a fire safety report as part of the larger Annual Campus Safety and Security Report required by the Clery Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act. The Fire Log is intended for recording fires that occur in on-campus housing only and includes the date the fire was reported, date/time the fire occurred, nature of the fire, and general location of each fire.  Entries are made within two business days of the receipt of information.  This log is accessible to the PLU community and the public, and provides this information for the previous five years.  It can be found here: Current Campus Fire Log

Pacific Lutheran University publishes as part of the Clery Compliance and Fire Safety Report, annual statistics for the most recent complete calendar year pertaining to on-campus student housing only. These statistics include: residential hall name, maximum number residents, monitoring, sprinkler equipped, smoke alarmed, fire extinguisher and/or fire hose provided, number of drills per year, location, total number of fires in each building, date, time, cause of the fire, number of injuries requiring treatment at a medical facility, number of deaths related to a fire, value of the property damage caused by the fire, and a unique case number. An annual on-campus student housing facility fire statistics report is completed and available here for review: 2022 Campus Fire Safety Right to Know – Annual Statistics

Get Out and Stay Alive Brochure

Informational brochure for Residential and Off-Campus focusing on Getting Out, Prevention and Protection. Click Here.

A First Hand Look

Here is an example done at University of Missouri to show students how quickly fire can spread:

Dangers of Grease Fires

From Campus Fire Watch – Here is an example why you don’t extinguish a grease fire with water:

Fire Hazards are Serious Business!

Interested in Fire Safety? Love hilariously and wonderfully silly videos?  If so, watch this video created by the Environmental Health and Safety team at Iowa State University to learn how to prevent fire hazards!