Fire Safety in Residence Halls

Residence hall fires on university campuses are not uncommon. Miami University has been fortunate in avoiding a residence hall fire that has caused injury or serious damage. However, because the possibility for such fires exists, Miami has taken a number of precautions to protect the approximately 7,100 students who live in our 41 residence halls.


  • All residence halls are equipped with a fire alarm system. All alarm systems function and undergo rigorous testing and documentation each year. Fire safety specialists activate the alarm systems annually and inspect and clean the system components on an annual basis.
  • All of Miami's residence halls have state-of-the-art "smart" systems, which provide total smoke detection throughout a building—every janitor's closet, every room, every hallway, all common areas. Furthermore, the "smart" systems provide fire officials with an exact location (down to the room #) of the smoke's source.
  • Fire extinguishers (ABC type) are located in residence halls and spaced in accordance with the Ohio Fire Code.
  • All Miami residence hall rooms have flame-retardant mattresses and window shades. Public areas have carpets and drapery that meet maximum flammability standards. No Miami residence hall is more than four stories, and most are three stories.
  • All residence halls are equipped with "Knox Security Key Boxes." These high security boxes contain building master keys for use by the firefighters who come into a residence hall. The boxes are opened by a key that is on each fire truck. The sub master keys in these "Knox Boxes" enable firefighters to quickly unlock all student room and building doors in order to maximize evacuation and rescue or to fight an active fire.


  • Miami's fire safety specialists offer smoke drills where a corridor is filled with "safe smoke" to simulate the disorienting effects of smoke in residence hall fire situations. Beginning in Fall 2002, this program became mandatory for first-year students. In addition to the smoke drill, first-year residents are required to complete an online fire safety course.
  • Miami has an unannounced fire drill program in all of its residence halls.


  • Miami restricts the use of any item that produces an open flame or heating surface in residence hall student rooms. Candles, incense, and hot plates are among the restricted items.
  • Miami discourages, but does not prohibit, the use of halogen lamps in residence hall sleeping rooms. The use of protective coverings on such lamps is strongly encouraged.
  • All residence halls are non-smoking buildings. This includes all student rooms.

Student Housing Policies and Rules

Portable Electrical Appliances, Smoking, and Open Flames

The following policies are from The Student Handbook (PDF 1.3MB).

3.3.B Appliances and Electrical Wiring

Television sets with self-contained antennas, VCRs, DVD players, radios, CD players, electrical razors, clocks, hair dryers, lamps, heating pads, personal computers, and fans are permitted in student rooms providing their use does not disturb the other occupants of the building and that their state of repair is not a fire hazard. Students are encouraged to use surge protectors with electronic equipment such as computers. Microwaves are permitted in rooms (one per room); compact refrigerators must be rented from Housing, Dining, and Guest Services. Microwaves cannot exceed 700 watts.

Safety and insurance standards require that certain restrictions be placed on the use of other electrical appliances in residence halls.

  • Popcorn poppers, hot plates, grills, skillets, coffee pots, and toasters may be used in kitchenettes or other designated areas, but not in student rooms; no other cooking devices are permissible.
  • Sun lamps, dehumidifiers, and gas appliances may not be used.
  • Personal air conditioners are not permitted under any circumstances. Students may request and rent window-mounted air conditioners from the University.
  • Tampering, altering, or rewiring electrical outlets (including telephones) is a fire and safety hazard and is prohibited. The use of personally owned electric irons is limited to laundry rooms.
3.3.D Candles and Incense

The burning of candles, incense, or other substances producing open flame is strictly prohibited in residence halls at all times.

4.10 Smoke-Free Environment

In order to promote the health of our students, faculty, staff and visitors, all Miami University campuses are designated Smoke-Free Environments. Smoking is defined as the burning of tobacco or any other material in any type of smoking equipment, including, but not restricted to, cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.

Smoking is prohibited in all Miami University-owned facilities and on the grounds of any University-owned property. This includes all buildings owned or controlled by Miami University, shelters, indoor and outdoor athletic facilities, indoor and outdoor theatres, bridges, walkways, sidewalks, residence halls, parking lots and garages. Smoking is prohibited on sidewalks that adjoin University property. Smoking is also prohibited in any vehicle or equipment owned, leased or operated by Miami University.

Miami University actively promotes and provides smoking cessation assistance and nicotine replacement therapy to students, faculty, and staff, as well as their benefit-eligible spouses and domestic partners. Many services are provided at no cost or a reduced cost. Interested employees should see Employee Health & Well-Being. Interested students should contact the Student Health Service.

• Personal Automobile—Smoking is permitted in personal automobiles parked on University premises.
• Hotel/Lodging—The President is authorized to establish a designated smoking area in the exterior area surrounding any location that provides overnight guest accommodations in a lodge or hotel fashion. This authorization includes the Marcum Conference Center, the Miami Inn, Climer Guest Lodge, Simpson-Shade Guest House, Patterson Place, and any other location housing overnight guests. The designated smoking area must be at least 25 feet from any University building.

Faculty, staff and students violating this policy are subject to University disciplinary action. Violators may also be subject to prosecution for violation of Ohio's Smoking Ban (Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3794). Visitors who violate this policy may be denied access to Miami University campuses and may ultimately be subject to arrest for criminal trespass.

Emergency Fire and Evacuation Procedures

Fire alarms alert community members of potential hazards, and community members are required to heed their warning and evacuate buildings immediately upon hearing a fire alarm in a facility. Community members should familiarize themselves with the exits in each building.

1. Activate fire alarm if you discover fire or smoke.
2. Call 911 and provide information on the following:

•  Name
•  Building
•  Floor or room number

3. Do one of the following:

If Then
The fire is small. If you are trained, use a fire extinguisher.
The fire is beyond control or involved potentially explosive materials. Follow the next steps to evacuate the building.

5. Close doors and windows as you leave. Leave lights on.
6. Walk, do not run, to the nearest stairway and proceed to ground level.

DO NOT USE ELEVATORS. When a fire alarm is activated, most elevators stop automatically. If you are caught in an elevator, push the emergency phone button.

7. Feel doors before opening. If a door is hot, do not open. Backtrack to an alternate evacuation route.
8. Alert other building occupants by loudly knocking on doors and yelling "FIRE" on your way out.
If you encounter smoke, stay low. Crawl if necessary.
Continue the evacuation if the alarm sound stops, and warn others who may attempt to enter the building.
Move to a safe location and leave clear access for emergency personnel. Do not return to the building until instructed by a safety official.
Someone familiar with the situation and who knows the area involved should meet the fire department. Immediately inform them if someone may be inside the building. If your building is damaged, evacuate and attempt to secure building against re-entry.

If clothing is on fire:

1. Stop, drop, and roll. Do not run.
2. Smother flames by wrapping in a blanket, rug, coat, etc.

If you become trapped in a building:

1. Find a room with a window. Enter and close the door.
2. If smoke begins to enter around the door, seal with rags, tape, or other material.
3. Call 911. If no phone is available, signal from a window.
4. Shout at regular intervals to alert emergency personnel of your location.


If you find signs of an extinguished fire (i.e., non-emergency), you should report it to one of the following: