Intern Fire Safety Procedure

Fire Safety Plans

Prior to Check-in, all interns are required to review and certify that they have reviewed the fire safety plan information about East Campus. This fire safety plan contains important fire safety information and evacuation procedures. A summary of these evacuation procedures is also posted on the back of residential room doors. To maximize personal fire safety, interns should familiarize themselves with these materials. Fire safety plans for East Campus are available online. Interns may also request a copy of these plans by emailing Conference Housing. If a replacement fire safety door sticker is needed, interns may email Conference Housing.

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Fire Alarms and Safety Equipment

Fire detection, suppression, and notification equipment is located in the residence halls for the protection of interns. Activation of an alarm will automatically cause a response by the New York City Fire Department. False alarms waste time and resources, and endanger the lives of firefighters and people needing their assistance. Sounding false alarms, starting open fires, arson, and tampering with fire safety equipment are criminal offenses. Any intern involved with infractions of fire safety is in severe violation of University regulations and is punishable by expulsion from the program without a refund. For any questions regarding fire safety policies or procedures, please contact Public Safety at 212-854-2797. If an alarm results in a fine by the Fire Department, the smallest definable group of responsible interns will be billed for the fine.

  • Alarms: Fire alarms are tested monthly at scheduled times that are posted in each building. Unless posted, all alarms should be considered authentic fire alerts requiring immediate evacuation. During such an alarm, everyone must leave the building in a quick and orderly manner. If a resident discovers a fire, they should pull the nearest fire alarm and, once they have left the area, call the campus emergency number: 212-854-5555
  • Safety Checks: After fire alarms or during a planned fire drill, a random number of rooms/suites may be inspected for compliance with University fire safety regulations. University staff look for visible fire hazards, such as halogen lamps and candles. They do not check in or open drawers or closets. If University staff discovers a fire hazard in a resident’s room, the resident and Conference Housing receive a written notice. Prohibited items are removed. Interns are responsible for claiming items from Conference Housing within 48 hours and for storing them off-campus or disposing of them. These items are not permitted back into the residence hall.

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Fire Safety Guidelines

Interns should familiarize themselves with the location of several fire pull boxes and at least two fire exits within their building. In addition, interns should always keep fire doors closed and report any damaged or missing fire safety equipment.

Due to the potential risks and hazards associated with their usage, certain appliances and decorations may not be used in intern rooms. In addition, certain other appliances may only be used in designated cooking areas or kitchens. For further details and a complete list of these items, see Prohibited Items.

Interns may not possess items that operate with an open flame (i.e. grills, lanterns, candles, incense, etc.) or flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene, or propane.

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 Fire Safety Tips

  • Interns must not overload electrical outlets at any time. Only one appliance should be plugged into each socket in an outlet.
  • Interns must not use extension cords, only surge protectors. Never use multiple extension cords. 
  • Interns must not operate two or more high-amperage appliances simultaneously (e.g. a computer and a hair dryer).
  • Interns must use a surge suppressor to protect computers and other sensitive electronic equipment.

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 Evacuation Procedures

In the event of an alarm, Interns should:

  • Awaken any sleeping roommate or suitemates.
  • Prepare to evacuate by putting on shoes and coat, if time permits.
  • Feel the doorknob and the door. If they are hot, do not open the door. If they are cool, open slowly, but if heat or smoke rushes in, close the door immediately and remain inside.
  • When leaving their room, interns should be sure to take their key in case it is necessary to return to the room should conditions in the corridor deteriorate.

If for any reason an intern is not able to leave their room, they should dial the campus emergency number at 212-854-5555 and inform Public Safety of their location. Help will be sent immediately.

If exit is possible, interns should:

  • Make sure to close the door tightly when evacuating.
  • Follow a predetermined exit route in a quick and orderly manner.
  • Leave the building using the nearest accessible stairway – not the elevator.
  • When exiting in smoky conditions, keep at least one hand on the wall and crawl to the nearest exit.
  • After exiting the building, please keep clear of the building entry to allow quick access by FDNY, Fire Safety, and Public Safety personnel.
  • When the building has been deemed safe for reentry, Public Safety will authorize interns to go back inside.

If exit is not possible, interns should:

  • Make sure the door is tightly closed and use a bed sheet or blanket to fill the cracks around the door.
  • Open the window two-thirds at the top to allow hot air and gases to escape, and one-third at the bottom. Face near the bottom opening to ease breathing until help arrives. Never break the window; this will result in an inability to control the influx of smoke from other floors.
  • Wave a towel or brightly colored shirt from the window to aid rescuers. The fire department will look for this sign.

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 Evacuation Procedure for Students wtih Disabilities 

Interns with disabilities or interns with chronic medical, health or psychological conditions, whose illnesses or disabilities may interfere with their ability to evacuate, are encouraged to alert the Office of Disability Services (ODS) by completing the Disability Evacuation Assistance Registration form. This information will be shared with Columbia’s offices of Public and Fire Safety, Conference Housing, and the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). Interns with disabilities and special evacuation needs are advised to contact the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Fire and Life Safety at (212) 854-6670, or 212-854-6676, for individual emergency preparedness and planning consultation.

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