Fire Safety

Fire Safety in Residence Halls

Miami takes a number of precautions to protect the safety of students living in residence halls. Learn about the policies regarding fire safety education and training programs provided to students and employees as well as rules on portable electrical appliances, smoking and open flames in residence halls. This information on fire safety also includes emergency procedures for evacuation and a list of contacts for reporting a fire.

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 8,500 students who live in our 45 residence halls.

Future Improvements

Miami University is in the 10th year of a 20-year plan to renovate residential hall facilities, which includes upgrading fire alarm and suppression systems. All renovated residence halls have arc-fault circuit breakers that are more sensitive to circuit overload and thus enhance fire safety.

Equipment

  • 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 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.

Fire Safety Education and Training Programs

At the start of each fall semester, the University holds fire and personal safety education programs for all new students living in on-campus student housing. Staff at the Fire and Personal Safety Fairs emphasize several key points to student participants:

  • Reinforce key fire safety policies including but not limited to the requirement that everybody must vacate the building when the alarm sounds, prohibition of tampering with fire safety equipment, and the prohibition of candles in the residence halls
  • Encourage students to know the number of doors between their room and their primary and secondary routes of escape from their building
  • Sensitize students to fire safety while avoiding incidents that desensitize students such as setting off the alarm by overcooking popcorn and easy-mac.&
  • Demonstrate the proper use of a fire extinguisher.

During the Fire and Personal Safety Fairs, students are led through a simulated smoke-filled corridor which is immediately debriefed in small-group discussions. Students also meet members of the Miami University Police Department, Oxford Fire Department, Life Squad and student members of HAWKS peer educators.

All new students are asked to complete an online fire safety course through our campus academic course system.  The course reviews a variety of fire safety policies, discusses the impact of alcohol on fire safety, and encourages students to know their means of egress from their residence hall.

Staff from the Environmental Health and Safety Offices implement a series of unannounced emergency evacuation drills several times during the academic year. During these drills they also conduct tests of the emergency notification systems in the buildings (alarms, automatic door closings, and, where applicable, public address).

Restrictions

  • 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 prohibits the use of halogen lamps in residence hall sleeping rooms.
  • All residence halls are non-smoking, tobacco-free buildings. This includes all student rooms.

Student Housing Policies and Rules

Portable Electrical Appliances, Smoking, and Open Flames

The following policies are outlined in the Student Room Regulations.

Appliances and Electrical Wiring

Aquariums (5 gallons or less), 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. Microwaves not exceeding 700 watts are permitted in rooms (one per room); compact refrigerators are provided by Campus Services. No privately-owned refrigerators are allowed.

Safety and insurance standards require that certain restrictions be placed on the use of other electrical appliances in residence halls. The university reserves the right to prohibit other appliances not listed below if the item constitutes a potential risk.

  1. Popcorn poppers, hot plates, grills, skillets, coffee pots, and toasters are prohibited.
  2. Sun lamps, dehumidifiers, space heaters, candle warmers, indoor grills, electric blankets, and gas appliances may not be used.
  3. Personal air conditioners are not permitted under any circumstances.
  4. Tampering, altering, or rewiring electrical outlets is a fire and safety hazard and is prohibited.

Candles and Incense

Pursuant to section 308.4.1 of the Ohio Revised Code, the burning and/or possession of candles, incense, and similar materials is a fire hazard and is prohibited in public spaces, residence hall rooms, sorority suites and on exterior window sills. The storage and use of flammable fluid is prohibited.

Smoke- and Tobacco-Free Environment

In order to promote the health of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors, all Miami University campuses are designated as Smoke- and Tobacco-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, electronic cigarettes, vaporizers, hookahs, cigars, or pipes. Smoking is prohibited at all times in all prohibited areas. The use of any tobacco product, including chewing tobacco, is also prohibited.

Smoking and tobacco use are 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 facilities, natural areas, indoor and outdoor theatres, bridges, walkways, sidewalks, residence halls, parking lots, and street parking and garages controlled by the University, (including inside personal vehicles parked on University property). Smoking and tobacco use are prohibited on sidewalks that adjoin University property. Smoking and tobacco use are 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 to their benefit-eligible spouses. Many services are provided at no cost or a reduced cost. Interested employees should contact My Benefits & Wellness. Interested students should contact Student Health Services.

Violations

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 In Case of a Fire

In the event of a fire, the University expects that all campus community members will evacuate by the nearest exit, closing doors and activating the fire alarm system (if one is present) as they leave. Once safely outside a building, it is appropriate to contact 911 and the MUPD. Students and/or staff are informed where to relocate to by staff if circumstance warrants at the time of the alarm. In the event fire alarms sound, University policy is that all occupants must evacuate from the building, closing doors as they leave. No training is provided to students or employees in firefighting or suppression activity as this is inherently dangerous and each community member’s only duty is to exit safely and quickly, shutting doors along the exit path as they go to contain the spread of flames and smoke, and to activate the alarm as they exit. At no time should the closing of doors or the activation of the alarm delay the exit from the building.

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 the fire is small, use a fire extinguisher (if you are trained).
    If the fire is beyond control or involved potentially explosive materials, follow the next steps to evacuate the building.
  4. Close doors and windows as you leave. Leave lights on.
  5. 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.
  6. Feel doors before opening. If a door is hot, do not open. Backtrack to an alternate evacuation route.
  7. Alert other building occupants by loudly knocking on doors and yelling "FIRE" on your way out.
  8. If you encounter smoke, stay low. Crawl if necessary.
  9. Continue the evacuation if the alarm sound stops, and warn others who may attempt to enter the building.
  10. Move to a safe location and leave clear access for emergency personnel. Do not return to the building until instructed by a safety official.
  11. 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 the 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.

Reporting a Fire

Per federal law, Miami is required to annually disclose statistical data on all fires that occur in on-campus student housing facilities. Therefore, if you encounter a live fire in any Miami facilities, you should immediately get to a safe place, then dial 911. Once the emergency has passed, you should notify MUPD at 513-529-2222 to investigate and document the incident for disclosure in the University’s annual fire statistics.

If a member of the Miami University community find signs of an extinguished fire (i.e., non-emergency), and the person is not sure whether MUPD has already responded, you should report it immediately to MUPD at 513-529-2222 to investigate and document the incident for disclosure in the University's annual fire statistics. Reports may also be made to one of the following:

  • Miami University Police Department, 513-529-2222
  • University Fire Marshall, 513-529-2804
  • Oxford Fire Chief, 513-523-6324
  • Middletown Fire Department, 513-425-7996

Leased Student Housing

Oxford Campus

From time to time Miami may lease apartment units at Hawks Landing and Oxford Commons in Oxford, Ohio, and then sub-let those units to students during the academic year. Hawks Landing and Oxford Commons are reasonable contiguous to the Oxford Campus. The lessor of Hawks Landing and Oxford Commons is responsible for maintaining the leased units in a tenable, safe, and sanitary manner, in compliance with all state and local housing, building, and health requirements applicable to the rental property. Each unit at Hawks Landing and Oxford Commons has a smoke detector and a fire suppression system. The lessor of Hawks Landing and Oxford Commons performs annual fire safety/fire suppression system inspections.

Middletown Campus

Miami entered into an agreement with RENDA Finance and Education Technology Company (“RENDA”) and Quest Holding International, LLC (“Quest”), whereby RENDA and Quest have agreed to provide certain services related to the Miami University Middletown English Language Center (“ELC”). As part of the agreement, Quest is responsible for providing all first-year ELC students with housing, dining, and transportation services. First-year ELC students enter into a lease agreement with Quest (or one of its subsidiaries) for housing. Quest owns the Park Lane Apartments complex, which is reasonable contiguous to the Middletown Campus. In the agreement, Quest has agreed to provide housing supervisors to oversee fire and safety concerns at Park Lane Apartments and to provide the University with the names and 24-hour emergency contact information for such housing supervisors. Miami retained the right to terminate the agreement with RENDA and Quest if the housing accommodations and/or the dining plans were not safe or otherwise unacceptable. Each unit at the Park Lane Apartments has a smoke detector, and there are fire extinguishers located in public areas of the apartment complex. Quest performs annual fire safety inspections and other legal requirements pertaining to fire safety.