Fire Safety: General Information

Know Where To Go And What To Do

Fire Safety Table of Contents

 Emergency Response to Fire Occurrence

It is important to determine in advance what your response will be in the event of a fire occurrence on campus. The basic steps you will follow are:

  • Step 1: Activate Alarm
  • Step 2: Dial 9-911 (or from a cell phone Dial 911)
  • Step 3: Evacuate the Building

 Fire Alarm Procedures

All buildings are equipped with fire alarms that sound an audible tone. Some buildings have strobe flashers for the hearing impaired.

No person may remain in any SLC facility when an audible or visual fire alarm has been activated or upon being notified by fire fighting, law enforcement or security personnel to evacuate.  The only exception would be during building fire alarm testing. The individual testing your alarm will announce:

"Attention Please. For the next several minutes we will be testing the fire alarm. There is no need to evacuate the building."

The fire alarm means: "EVACUATE!" Even if you are in the middle of a class it is time to leave.

  • Alert persons in area of fire and direct them away from danger.
  • Close door(s) to confine fire.
  • Activate the fire alarm.
  • Evacuate through nearest safe exit.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Move calmly to the designated Evacuation Assembly Area" for your building.
  • Keep streets, fire-lanes, hydrant areas and walkways clear for emergency vehicles and personnel.
  • Call Emergency Dispatch from a safe location. Dial 9-911 from any campus hard-wired phone or 911 from a cellphone.
  • Do not re-enter until the Fire Department or Campus Security announce "All Clear."

 Instructions for Anyone Confined by Smoke or Fire

If you notice an increase in room temperature or a strong smell of smoke in your area:

  1. CAREFULLY FEEL THE DOOR USING THE BACK OF YOUR HAND. If the door is hot, do not attempt to open it. If you feel no heat, then;
  2. PARTIALLY OPEN THE DOOR WHILE STANDING BEHIND IT FOR PROTECTION. Survey the existing conditions before exiting, if your passage is blocked, then;
  3. Close the door and use any available material (towels, shirt, blouse, etc.) to seal threshold openings. If a water source is available, soak materials before packing them into place. If you are in an older building equipped with transoms above the doors, make certain that these are closed.
  4. Use the room phone to contact Emergency Dispatch (911) to let them know your exact location. If no telephone is available, signal your location by waving a cloth or similar material from the window.
  5. ONLY IF SMOKE BEGINS TO ENTER YOUR AREA, should you partially open a window and stay near it, keeping low and breathing the fresher air from outside.
  6. If you are in a building that does not have windows that can be opened and smoke begins to enter, it may become necessary to break a window to obtain needed oxygen. This must be done only as a last resort and with extreme care, by keeping out of the direct path formed between the window to be broken and the doorway or opening through which smoke is entering. The glass pane must be broken low, to provide easy access to outside air. This can be done by throwing a heavy object at the lower pane, while standing out of the direct path formed between the window and doorway or opening.

 Elements of a Fire  

For many years the concept of fire was symbolized by the Triangle of Combustion and represented, fuel, heat, and oxygen:

  • Fuel -- For a fire to start there must be something to burn. The physical state of the fuel may be gases (natural gas, propane, butane, hydrogen, etc.); liquids (gasoline, kerosene, turpentine, alcohol, paint, varnish, lacquer, etc.) or solid (coal, wood, paper, cloth, grease, etc.)
  • Heat -- For a fire to start there must be a source of ignition, usually heat or a spark. Heat sources include: open flame, hot surfaces, sparks and arcs, friction-chemical action, electrical energy and compression of gases
  • Oxygen -- A source of oxygen is needed. Approximately 16% is required. Normal air contains 21% oxygen. Some fuels contain enough oxygen within their make-up to support burning.

Further fire research determined that a fourth element, a chemical chain reaction, was a necessary component of fire. The fire triangle was changed to a "Fire Tetrahedron" to reflect this fourth element.

The four elements are:

  • Oxygen to sustain combustion
  • Sufficient heat to raise the material to its ignition temperature
  • Fuel or combustible material, and subsequently
  • An Exothermic Chemical Chain Reaction in the material.

 How to Request Assistance When Calling from a Cell Phone

  • Dial 9-911. This will connect you with the Manitowoc County Public Safety Dispatcher.
  • Provide information on the exact location (including cross streets, mileposts or landmarks) and the nature of the emergency
  • Indicate whether police, fire or medical assistance is needed

 Fire Preparedness


  • Learn where emergency exits are located. All designated exits are clearly marked.
  • Review the Emergency Evacuation Floor plans for your building in advance of an emergency so that you are familiar with alternate routes in the event the your normal exit route is blocked by fire or smoke.
  • Participate in fire drills. Fire drills are conducted to familiarize you with the sound of your building's fire alarm, the emergency exits which you may not normally use, and the procedures for calling the Police.
  • In case of fire evacuate through the nearest, safe stairwell. Do not use elevators.

If You Are Disabled:

Report Fire-Related Crimes to the Police:

There is a reward for information leading the arrest of an arsonist. Causing a false alarm is a crime punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and 9 months imprisonment. Vandalism of fire extinguishers, exit signs, and fire alarms robs you of your fire protection. Any person found responsible for these crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

 Help Eliminate Fire Hazards

Electrical Abuse:

  • Electrical hazards represent a serious, widespread occupational danger; practically all members of the workforce are exposed to electrical energy during the performance of their daily duties. It is important that you be aware of the potential for fire resulting from electrical hazards.
  • Use of electrical "octopuses" to obtain more outlets can result in overloaded circuits and fire. Use only 15 amp fused power strips. Replace damaged wires and be sure to match your appliance power requirements to the circuit power.
  • Never remove the grounding post from a three-prong plug.
  • Hotplates, coffee makers, irons, space heaters, etc. should never be left unattended. They should be unplugged after use and not stored until they are cool enough to touch. Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture.
  • Match the size of an extension cord to the appliance power cord to prevent cord overheating. Extension cords are not intended for "permanent" installations. Wherever possible, appliances shall be connected to permanently wired receptacles.
  • A three-foot clearance is required in front of all circuit breaker panels. Storage of combustibles in mechanical/electrical service closets is prohibited.


Storage of bicycles, chairs, desks, file cabinets, boxes and other items is prohibited in all exit ways. Storage is prohibited in all exits and aisles leading to exits. This includes primary hallways and all stairwells.

Exits must remain unobstructed and accessible at all times. Blocked exits have caused "chain reaction" pile-ups of fallen people during emergencies. Obstructed stairwells or exits can seriously hinder your escape effort during an emergency.

Historically, blocked exits are the cause of most fire-related deaths in commercial buildings.

Open Flames:

Open flames such as Bunsen burners, barbecue grills, torches, etc. shall never be left unattended. Extinguish all open flames, even if left for a very short time.


Never prop open fire doors with wedges or other objects. The very purpose of these doors is to prevent smoke and heat from traveling up stairwells and along corridors.

Flammable Liquids and Gases:

  • Storage of flammable liquids in laboratories, shops, and classrooms is limited to specific quantities and approved containers, cabinets or vaults.
  • Know what the maximum permissible quantity of flammable liquids is for your laboratory area and never exceed this amount. Reference your department's Laboratory Safety Plan for additional information.