Fire Safety

Policy Statement
St. John's Policy on Fire Emergency is that employees are not required to fight fires and should evacuate the building immediately in the event of a fire.  St. John's Fire Department has the primary responsibility for managing fire emergencies and must be notified immediately of such situations at their emergency number (911). Designated employees may use fire extinguishers to fight small, incipient stage fires only if they have been trained in the proper use of a fire extinguisher and are confident in their ability to cope with the hazards of a fire. In such cases, fire-fighting efforts must be terminated when it becomes obvious that there is danger of harm from smoke, heat or flames.

Reporting Fires & Emergencies
If a fire is discovered, activate the nearest fire alarm and from on campus line phone, dial 911.  If the fire alarm does not work, or the building is not equipped with one, dial 911 and notify occupants verbally of the emergency and the need to evacuate.

Hazardous equipment or processes should be shut down before leaving, unless if doing so presents a greater hazard. Remember to close all doors as you leave, if conditions permit. Some exterior or hallway doors are on magnetic door closer and may close automatically upon fire alarm activation.

Evacuation Procedures
Evacuate via the nearest stairwell or grade level exit.  Every department or operational units should have an established pre-designated assembly point in the departmental emergency action plan. After you have left the building, go to the pre-designated assembly point and remain there. At the assembly point, supervisors or in the absence of the supervisor, a volunteer within the group accounts for personnel and reports any that are unaccounted for to the Fire Safety Official or Emergency Response personnel.

During an emergency, students and visitors who may not be familiar with the area must be informed of the requirement and directed to evacuate upon alarm or other emergency warning.  Special attention should also be given to any persons with disabilities within the building.

Department-Specific Information
Each department is responsible for informing its employees on all elements of its emergency action plan.  New employees must receive information when first assigned to the department.  Additional information is necessary when an employee's required actions under the plan changes, or when there are changes to the plan.  Request for additional information should be directed to Environmental Health & Safety (EHS).

Fire Extinguishers

The use of fire extinguishers must conform to the following guidelines, which are specified by the OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.157):

  1. Portable fire extinguishers suitable to the conditions and hazards involved shall be provided and maintained in an effective operating condition.
  2. Portable fire extinguishers shall be conspicuously located and mounted where they will be readily accessible.  Extinguishers shall not be obstructed or obscured from view at any time.
  3. Portable fire extinguishers shall be given maintenance service at least once a year and a written record shall be maintained.  The Fire Department at St. John's has this responsibility and will maintain or seek a contractor to perform this maintenance service.
  4. Monthly inspection, which entails visually inspecting for broken seals, damage and low gauge pressure, depending on type of extinguisher, are performed by custodial services personnel responsible for the building.  The inspector (custodial) initials on the tag affixed to the extinguisher, after each inspection.
  5. Employees designated to use extinguishers must receive training in the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with initial stage fire fighting.  Environmental Health & Safety office provides theoretical online information/training and confirms designated employees.  St. John's Fire Department provides hands-on extinguisher training.  Departments of designated employees will recommend training schedule that is convenient.  All designated employees must go through a refresher training at least once every two years, unless specified otherwise.

At St. John's, two main types of fire extinguishers are used.  You must be trained in order to use them.

ABC - (the most common)

  • Contains mono-ammonium phosphate with a nitrogen carrier and other ingredients to keep it flowing.  Used on paper, trash, wood, liquid greases and electrical wiring - not for computers or radio equipment.


  • Carbon Dioxide - good for chemicals, grease, petroleum products, low voltage electrical wiring and computers, but not for wood, paper or trash or high-electrical wiring.

Fire Prevention

The following guidelines can help to prevent fires:

  1. Proper housekeeping including prompt removal of wastes and keeping the workspace free of unnecessary combustible materials, to prevent or reduce the severity of fires.
  2. Limited smaller quantities of flammable liquids may be stored in laboratories and shops.  Flammable liquid storage cabinets are required where large amounts are present.
  3. Storage of combustible materials such as cardboard boxes, etc. should be kept to a minimum.
  4. Never leave open flames unattended.
  5. Keep equipment clean and in good operating condition.
  6. Keep fire exit routes clear and well marked.
  7. Know where pull boxes for activating alarms are located.
  8. Electrical wiring should be maintained in good condition.  Extension cords are NOT allowed under any circumstances unless they have built in surge protection.
  9. Never overload electrical circuits.
  10. If you are a designated employee, you should learn how to use fire extinguishers and know where they are located in your area.
  11. The emergency number (911) or for Life Safety (320-363-2144) should be posted on or near every phone.

For a safety survey of your area, contact Fire department at 363-2742 or EHS at 363-3267 to make suitable arrangements.

Fire Drill Procedures

Drill Frequency
Fire drills shall be conducted in accordance with the following frequencies:

  • Residence halls - a minimum of one (1) drill per semester.
  • Saint John's Preparatory School Residence - a minimum of four (4) fire drills per academic year, one (1) drill in a month.
  • All other on campus facilities that have fire alarm systems - a minimum of one (1) fire drill per calendar year.  This will preferably be conducted in early Fall.

Procedure for Planned Drills

All planned drills will be communicated in advance, to:

  • Director of Residential Life - for all University Halls of Residence.
  • Residence Director - for SJP Hall of Residence including the CSB campus
  • Director of Physical Plant
  • The campus community will receive an email announcing scheduled drills, approximately 1 week in advance

During any scheduled drill, if occupants do not evacuate a building in a reasonable amount of time, the drill is repeated until the officials conducting the drill are satisfied with the evacuation time.  All repeat drills are unannounced.

Following each planned drill, the person in charge of administering the drill must complete a fire drill report form and forward it to EHS & bring it to safety committee for evaluation.  A sample of the report form is included as Appendix B.  The Safety Committee and other appropriate parties will review and comment on the form as necessary.  A copy of the reviewed form shall be returned to the responsible party for filing.

Fire Alarm Testing
Fire alarm tests are scheduled at least one (1) week in advance.  Employees will receive email notices announcing the scheduled tests.  It is generally not necessary to evacuate the building during these tests, but some employees may find the intermittent blast of alarms uncomfortable and may wish to leave the area temporarily.

On a scheduled basis, facilities maintenance may check or arrange for contractors to check and test fire alarm systems, smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers and fire hoses.  In accordance with Federal/State Law, fire alarms are tested at least once a year by a qualified contractor, to make sure they are working properly in case of a real fire.  Evacuation of a building is not required during a fire alarm test.

During a fire alarm test, all bells and/or horns are sounded to make sure they are operating properly.  Then the bells are silenced and the rest of the system is tested.  If a bell or horn does not work, it is noted down for repair.  If you notice that a nearby bell or horn made no sound, bring it to the attention of maintenance personnel conducting the test or call 363-2144.  Residents of other College Apartments equipped with smoke alarms are encouraged to test the system regularly.  Repair is handled by Physical Plant section of facilities maintenance by calling 363-5101.

Sprinkler Systems
Sprinklers are an important part of the fire protection system in many of the campus buildings.  Like fire alarms, these systems are checked on a regular basis.  Their purpose is to suppress a fire and keep it from spreading.  Water flowing in the system triggers the fire alarm.  Please report any leaking sprinkler equipment to Physical Plant at 363-5101.

A popular activity in some buildings, "hall sports" (throwing objects like balls and Frisbees in hallways) can damage fire sprinkler system equipment.  Designed to be sensitive to rising temperatures, sprinkler heads can be easily damaged when they are bumped.  Likewise, hanging any objects or decorations from sprinkler heads and pipes can also cause damage.

All repair costs due to negligence may be charged to the department that sustained the damage.  Residential Life may be charged with any damage in residence halls and depending on the circumstances, will attempt to bill the person responsible in order to keep down costs.

Fire Evacuation Procedure

In buildings with fire alarm systems
In case of fire or situations requiring evacuation, pull alarm, this notifies the fire department and other response personnel.  Then, if time allows call 911 with details.  Evacuate promptly whenever alarm sounds. 

In buildings without fire alarms:

  1. Call 911 or if using a cell phone (320) 363-2144, and give location and/or building name, your name, and if there is time, details of the fire.  Evacuate promptly. FOR ALL EMERGENCIES DIAL 911
  2. When evacuating, use stairways, never elevators as these do not function normally in the event of a fire.
  3. Close doors and windows of rooms as you leave.  This will isolate and contain the fire.
  4. Doors need not be locked; lights can be left on.
  5. If a stairway contains smoke or fumes use an alternate stairway exit.
  6. Be familiar with the location of all exits and fire extinguishers.
  7. After evacuating the building, move more than 100 feet away from the building, in accordance with the building evacuation plan to allow room for others to get out, for fire fighters to get in and to avoid smoke, fire and debris.
  8. Wait until the St. John's Fire Department incident commander or officer gives permission to re-enter the building.

Evacuation drills will be conducted annually and you must respond to them seriously.

Fire Emergency Procedures (Summary)

If you discover a fire

  1. Activate the nearest fire alarm.
  2. Notify the fire department by dialing 911 or if using a cell phone (320) 363-2144.  Give your location, the nature of the fire and your name.
  3. Notify other occupants.

Fight the fire ONLY if:

  1. The fire department or Security has been notified of the fire, AND
  2. The fire is small and confined to its area of origin, AND
  3. You have a way out and can fight the fire with your back to the exit, AND
  4. You have the proper extinguisher, in good working order, AND know how to use it.
  5. If you are not sure of your ability or the fire extinguisher's capacity to contain the fire, leave the area.

If you hear a fire alarm:

  1. Evacuate the area.  Close the windows and doors as you leave.
  2. Leave the building and move away from exits and out of the way of emergency operations.
  3. Assemble in a designated area.
  4. Make sure you are accounted for in order to determine that all personnel have evacuated the emergency area.
  5. Remain outside until competent authority (Security, Fire Department or your supervisor) states that it is safe to re-enter.

Evacuation Routes

  1. Learn at least two escape routes, and emergency exits from your area.
  2. Never use an elevator as part of your escape route.
  3. Be familiar with fire alarm activation.
  4. Learn to recognize alarm sounds.
  5. Take an active part in fire evacuation drills.