Fire Safety

Fire Safety Plans

All residents are required to review, and certify that you have reviewed, the fire safety plan information about each of the residence halls and Brownstones prior to Check-In. 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 residents’ room doors. To maximize personal fire safety, residents should familiarize themselves with these materials. A replacement copy of the building’s fire safety plan can be found online in the Residences section of the Housing website or you may request a copy of these plans by emailing Housing. If a new fire safety sticker for the door is needed, you may also email Housing.

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Fire Alarms and Safety Equipment

Fire detection, suppression, and notification equipment is located in the residence halls for residents’ protection. 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 student involved with infractions of fire safety is in severe violation of University regulations and is punishable by permanent expulsion from University housing. For any questions regarding fire safety policies or procedures, please contact Fire Safety by email at If an alarm results in a fine by the Fire Department, the smallest definable group of responsible residents will be billed for the fine.

  • Fire Alarms: Fire alarms are tested at various times during the year. Notifications will be made prior to testing taking place. Evacuation is not necessary during a fire alarm test. Unless notified, all fire 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 at (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. Checks will also be conducted twice a year in all rooms by Housing, Residential Life and Fire Safety personnel. University staff will look for visible fire hazards, such as halogen lamps and candles. They will not check in or open drawers or closets. If University staff discovers a fire hazard in a resident’s room, the resident and the Associate Directors of Residential Life will receive a written notice. Prohibited items will be removed. Students are responsible for claiming items from the Hospitality Desk within 48 hours and storing them off-campus or disposing of them. These items will not be permitted back into the residence hall. Students will be given prior notice of the range of dates during which their residence hall will be checked.
  • Sprinkler Systems: All sprinklers are inspected and maintained as per NYC Fire Code and NFPA 25. For information on the latest inspections, please contact the Office of Fire and Life Safety Office at (212) 854-8518 or by email at

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Fire Safety Guidelines

Students should learn the location of several fire pull boxes and at least two fire exits within their building. In addition, students should always keep fire doors closed and report any damaged or missing fire safety equipment. Suite doors should remain closed at all times.

Due to the potential risks and hazards associated with their use, certain appliances and decorations may not be used in student 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.

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

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 Fire Safety Tips

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

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 Evacuation Procedures

In the event of a fire alarm:

  • When the alarm sounds, residents must evacuate the building.
  • Awaken any sleeping roommate or suitemates.
  • Carefully and slowly open the door. If heat or smoke rushes in, close the door immediately and remain inside.
  • When residents leave their room, they should be sure to take their key and University ID in case it is necessary to return to the room should conditions in the corridor deteriorate.

If for any reason a student 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:

  • 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, stay low to the ground and if necessary 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 students to go back inside.

If exit is not possible:

  • 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. Keep facing near the bottom opening. This will 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.

Watch these videos on Fire Safety and Cooking Safety to make sure you have the basics covered. 

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Evacuation Procedure for Students with Disabilities


Students with disabilities or students 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). They will alert Columbia’s offices of Public and Fire Safety, Residential Life, Housing, and the local Fire Department of New York (FDNY) that a student needs assistance evacuating. Students with disabilities with special evacuation needs are advised to contact the Office of Fire and Life Safety at (212) 854-8518 or email for individual emergency preparedness and planning consultation.

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