Fire Safety Policies

Of all the safety concerns on campus, fire safety is where the student's action or inaction can have the greatest impact on other students and the community.

Candles, Incense, and Open Flames

The most frequent causes of residence hall fires on our campus have been candles and incense. Candles, oil lamps, incense, alcohol lamps, and open flame burners are prohibited. The policy also prohibits listed items for decorative purposes.

Corridors

State fire regulations require that all paths of exit, including corridors and stairwells, be kept free of obstructions. Bicycles, boots, shoes, boxes, trash, suitcases, clothes, beds, and furniture should never be left in corridors or stairwells. Any item left in the corridors or stairwells will be confiscated and may be thrown away. Students are financial responsible for any missing room furniture, including furniture confiscated from corridors.

Electrical Equipment and Appliances

All electrical equipment is subject to inspection throughout the year by the College electrician as part of Mount Holyoke's continuing fire safety program. For example, before an electrician will reset a breaker or replace a fuse, he or she must first determine the cause of the electric overload and therefore must check all rooms on the involved circuit for problems. All types of halogen lamps are prohibited. Extension cords may be used, but they must be UL-approved. Multi-outlet extension cords are also allowed as long as they are UL-approved and have independent fuse protection. Extension cords should not be run under rugs, in travel ways, or under furniture. Do not tack extension cords to baseboards or other areas of the room. The storage and use of the following electrical appliances in student rooms are prohibited.

  • open heating coils
  • refrigerators measuring over 2.5 cubit feet 
  • outside radio and television antennas
  • space heaters
  • heat generating humidifiers or vaporizers
  • toasters
  • toaster ovens
  • electric grills/griddles
  • electric blankets

While most appliances are prohibited, there are a few exceptions, such as coffeepots, hot pots, and popcorn makers. Due to the limited capacity of the electric circuits, students are encouraged to confine electrical use to radios, stereos, tape players, television sets, clocks, razors, hair dryers, and computers. Appliances not in use must be turned off and/or disconnected.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are located on the main floor of each residence hall.  Extinguishers should be used for their intended purpose only and should not be removed from their assigned location. Extinguishers should be used only after the alarm has been pulled and the fire department has been notified. Only then should you try to control a small fire, if you can do so safely. Report fires of any size by dialing 1-911.

Fire Doors

Keep fire and smoke doors closed. These doors prevent the spread of smoke and fire, saving lives and minimizing damage to the building and personal property.

Fire Safety Inspections

In order to keep the residence hall free of fire hazards, fire safety inspections are performed four times a year: at the beginning of each semester, in November, and over the summer. The Hall Committee will follow up on any fire safety violations that are discovered during these inspections.

Flyers and other Postings

Flyers and other wall postings makes the spread of fire much quicker and easier. To increase the safety within the residence halls, we ask students to post flyers and announcements in designated areas only. This is typically the cork board on the room door and a community events board on the main floor of the residence hall lobby. Flyers places on walls, glass of fire doors, or on entry ways will be removed.

Gasoline and other Combustibles

Any item with a gasoline engine is prohibited in residential buildings. Gas barbeque grills, charcoal, and lighter fluids are also prohibited items. Grilling on the campus grounds is prohibited. Student or groups wishing to host a barbeque should contact the catering services via Willits Hallowell Conference Center. They will review the cost.

Room Furnishings

State law prohibits the use of upholstered furniture in student rooms. Futons should be fire-resistant. Waterbeds, lofts, bean bag chairs, and hanging chairs are prohibited in residence hall rooms. Decorations may not be hung from the ceiling or sprinkler pipes.

Approved Decorations

  • All decorations throughout the building must be flame-resistant.
  • Only fireproof artificial trees may be used in College buildings. Massachusetts law prohibits natural trees and other natural decorations.
  • If a holiday tree is set up in a residence hall, decorations must be made of flameproof or fireproof glass or metal. Items must be labeled as fireproof, not assumed to be fireproof. Only UL-approved lighting sets may be used to decorate a tree.
  • balloons (filled with nonflammable gas)
  • aluminum foil and other metal decorations
  • posters made of heavy cardboard or paper that has been treated with flame-resistant solution (Check label for this information.)
  • Window decorations must be limited to the glass area. Only watercolor paints may be used. The steel or wooden frames of the windows are not to be painted or taped with any kind of tape. Windows must be cleaned at the end of the event or holiday season.

Prohibited Decorations

  • No decorations of any kind are allowed in corridors, stairwells, or any means of exit. Doors (except for bulletin boards on doors may not be decorated with cards, ribbons, wrapping paper, or natural wreaths.
  • No fires are to be lighted in the fireplace when the mantel is decorated. Fireplace mantel decorations should be kept to a minimum.
  • Cornstalks, hay, straw, and related items are prohibited.
  • Cut or live trees, wreaths, and sprays may not be used in the building. They may be used on the outside of exterior doors.
  • Items that may damage the interior paint or wallpaper of any building are prohibited.
  • Paper lanterns are prohibited.
  • Plastic film and coverings are prohibited.