Fire Safety Regulations, Instructions, and Procedures

Fire: 9-11
University Police: 617-495-1212


A student who violates any of the fire safety regulations set forth Chapter 5 or the fire emergency procedures below, including those pertaining to the abuse of fire alarm, smoke detector, or fire extinguisher systems, will be subject to disciplinary action, including requirement to withdraw.

Fire Emergency Procedures

Any smoke detector in a stairwell or corridor can initiate a general alarm when a predetermined concentration of smoke reaches it. This alarm has the same sound as the alarms initiated manually and is a signal to leave the building. Each room or suite is typically equipped with a 110-volt AC smoke detector. If activated, the alarm sounds in that room only. If there is a fire, go to the nearest exit, pull the fire alarm at the pull station, and leave the building.

If You Find a Fire

  1. Sound the alarm by activating the nearest fire alarm pull station and call the Fire Department at 911 from a safe location. You can also call 617-495-5560, the University Operations Center, who will notify the Fire Department, HUPD, a University fire safety mechanic, the building manager, and other key personnel.

  2. Alert your neighbors only if you can do so without delaying your exit.

  3. Leave the building immediately, close doors behind you as you exit the building and proceed to the designated emergency evacuation meeting location.

  4. If you have information on how the fire started or how the alarm was activated, report it to the Fire Department.

Do not try to put out the fire. Use your common sense. Your safety is more important than property.

If the Alarm Sounds

Do not delay evacuation or assume that this is a false alarm. Immediately begin to exit the building.

  1. Feel the door. If it is hot, do not open it. Stay in your room. Put a towel or blanket (preferably wet) under the door to keep the smoke out. If your telephone works, call the Cambridge Fire Department at 911. Also call the Harvard University Police Department at 617-495-1212 to let them know where you are. Attract attention to yourself. Hang a sheet or something out the window.

If the door is not hot, open it slowly. If smoke and heat fill the hall, close the door, stay in your room, and call for help.

If you can safely leave your room, take your key and close your door behind you. Exit by the nearest clear exit stairway. Do not use the elevators – it may fail in a fire or be automatically recalled to the ground floor. Failure to leave when an alarm sounds, unless there are safety reasons for not doing so, is a punishable offense.

  1. If you encounter smoke on your way out, stay low and crawl if necessary. You are more apt to find breathable air close to the floor. Cover your nose and mouth with a wet towel or wet handkerchief, if possible.

  2. So that you may be accounted for, go to the predetermined emergency evacuation meeting location. Do not attempt to reenter the building until the fire department gives permission to do so.

  3. Do not attempt to reenter the building until the fire department gives permission to do so.

Fire Safety Instructions

  1. Do not overload wiring. Appliances should be plugged into wall outlets, never connected to light sockets. Extension cords should be Underwriters Laboratories or National Electric Code approved cords in good condition and of proper rating. Do not splice extension cords; never run them through doorways or partitions, or cover them with rugs.

  2. Use fireproof draperies. Limit the number of flammable decorations and keep your room neat and clean.

  3. The use of candles and other sources of open flame are prohibited in House and dormitory rooms. Menorahs may be lit only in House common areas and only with the approval of the House Master. They must always be attended.

  4. It is illegal to use fireplaces, as they can present a safety hazard to all occupants.

  5. Cooking equipment is prohibited. The City of Cambridge forbids cooking in any room or apartment not equipped with permanent cooking facilities.

  6. Know emergency escape routes: fire doors, window exits, and fire escapes. Never block emergency escape routes or block open or prop open any fire doors. Emergency exit doors within rooms/suites shall not be blocked on either side by furniture or obstructions of any kind.

  7. Student participation in annual fire drills is mandatory.

  8. If you have information on the cause of a fire alarm activation, report information to tutors, House Masters, or the Fire Department representatives.

For further information, contact the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, 46 Blackstone Street, Cambridge, 617-495-2060, or visit their fire safety website.

Carbon Monoxide

Select rooms may be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, tasteless and non-irritating gas created when fuels (e.g. gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, and wood) are burned. Improperly vented appliances used for heating and cooking can be sources of carbon monoxide. The State of Massachusetts requires residential buildings with carbon monoxide-generating appliances to be equipped with carbon monoxide detection and alarms.

Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, runny nose, sore eyes, and are often described as "flu-like symptoms." Higher level exposure symptoms may include dizziness, drowsiness, and vomiting. Extreme exposure to carbon monoxide can result in unconsciousness or death.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm Instructions

The carbon monoxide alarm will sound four quick "chirps" every few seconds, indicating that carbon monoxide is present.

  1. Everyone in the immediate area of the alarm must immediately move to fresh air outdoors. If anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911 or Harvard University Police Department, 617-495-1212.

  2. If there are no symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, call the University Operations Center, 617-495-5560, for instructions and assistance. Remain outside until directed by the Police or Fire Department that it is safe to re-enter the building.