Fire safety — how to avoid false fire activations

Posted 10 months ago

Fire safety is vitally important!

This may be your first time living away from home, or your first time in university accommodation, and the last thing you want to do is cause your block to be evacuated at silly o’clock in the morning. This article has some helpful tips for staying safe and avoiding false fire alarm activations.

Food smell burnt? Kitchen a bit stuffy? Keep that door shut!

  • If you burn your toast at home, you might be used to opening the kitchen door to get rid of the smoke... well in halls you need to do the opposite. Keep the kitchen door shut at all times. Wedging open the kitchen door is one of the main causes of false fire alarms, as smoke and steam from the kitchen often triggers the hallway smoke detectors. If it’s smoky, steamy or stuffy in your kitchen, open the windows and turn on the extractor fan.
  • All the doors (with the exception of bathroom doors) in your flat are fire doors. They should always be kept shut because if a fire were to break out these doors stop the fire from spreading to the rest of the flat. 

Don’t leave cooking unattended and set timers on yourphone

  • This one is pretty self-explanatory - don’t leave cooking unattended. If you’re forgetful or easily distracted then set a timer on your phone so you don’t burn your dinner.

Keep cooking appliances clean and report any faults

  • Dirty cookers, grills, hobs, and other appliances are another main cause of fire activations. Baked on food or grease can cause the kitchen to get smoky and can catch fire, so keep on top of the cleaning and wipe down appliances daily.
  • Make sure that items such as cloths, tea towels are kept clear of, and are not touching, the hot plates on the hobs.
  • If an appliance isn’t working as it should, report it to your site staff.

Don't use tin foil to line the oven or grill pan

  • Lining your oven or grill pan with foil can pose a serious fire risk as heat is not allowed to circulate freely in the oven.
  • We also advise not to cook anything directly on the bottom part of the oven; always place food onto trays on the shelves. Missing oven shelves? Let your site staff know.

Keep cooking in the kitchen

  • Breakfast in bed can be an absolute treat, but you’ll have to cook it in the kitchen first. Cooking appliances aren’t permitted in bedrooms and neither are fridges (including mini fridges and drinks fridges). Your kitchen is kitted out with a cooker, hob, microwave, toaster, kettle, fridge and freezer, so there’s no need for you to bring these from home. Socialising at meal times with your flatmates is part of the fun of living in halls anyway!

... And keep soft furnishings out of the kitchen

  • Soft furnishings, including any desk or soft chairs from your bedrooms, are not permitted in the kitchen. The furniture in your kitchen is fire-retardant to meet HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) regulations, plus having too much furniture in the kitchen can be dangerous for moving around.

Leave these items at home...

  • Certain items are banned from the residences because they are a fire risk. Some of these items include: plug in fairy lights (battery operated ones are fine), candles, incense, plug in air fresheners, electric blankets, portable heaters, etc. Be careful not to overload power adapters either!

Smoking is not permitted indoors

  • Smoking is not permitted anywhere inside the halls, including bedrooms, kitchens, communal spaces, bathrooms, hallways, stairwells, etc. This includes e-cigarettes and vapes, as they can activate the smoke detectors. When smoking outside, please dispose of cigarette ends in the cigarette bins provided. 

If you don't need to use it, leave the fire equipment alone

  • There’s fire equipment located throughout the residences for your safety, including fire extinguishers and fire blankets. Unless there is a fire, please do not touch the fire equipment, as it’s important that they are in the correct place and in working order in case of a real fire. You are also not obliged to use any of the equipment if a fire were to happen.
  • The same goes for the fire activation points. Please only activate them if there is a fire.

If you hear the alarm you must evacuate

  • This is another obvious one, but if you hear the fire alarm you must evacuate the building. Do not run, and do not take any belongings with you. Your onsite office staff or Residence Life Team will meet you at your fire assembly point. Your nearest fire assembly point will be displayed on the fire notices in your flat - it's a good idea to check these when you move in.
  • Each site tests their fire alarms weekly. The alarm will sound for a few seconds before turning off again - in this instance you do not need to evacuate. The date and time of your weekly fire alarm test is usually displayed in the stairwell of your block or in communal areas. If you're unsure, ask your site staff.

Not following fire safety rules could lead to disciplinary action

As part of your accommodation contract you have agreed to follow the university's Fire Safety Policy. If you, or any guests of yours, do not abide by these rules to keep everyone safe then you could face disciplinary action and even a fine. Similarly, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have the right to inform the police if they believe someone has caused a fire or activated the fire alarm system maliciously.

I know it seems like a lot – but most of this is just common sense. False fire activations are a pain, so we hope this article will help you to avoid them.