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Fire Planning and Prevention

Get fire planning and prevention tips from UMGC.

Knowing what to do in the event of a fire emergency can mean the difference between life and death.

When Discovering a Fire

  1. Keep calm. Go to the nearest pull station and sound the alarm. This is the mandatory and immediate action to take when a fire starts.
  2. If the fire is large, evacuate the area immediately.
  3. Call the Security or Emergency Services (911) and give the exact location and nature of the fire.
  4. If possible, extinguish incipient-stage fires occurring on the property, utilizing a portable fire extinguisher. At no time should an employee attempt to extinguish a fire if he or she feels unsafe. Personal safety is of primary importance. Ensure that the location of the fire is reported. Evacuate the area if you are unable to immediately extinguish the fire.
  5. Close all windows and doors in the immediate area of the fire to prevent the spread of smoke and fire.
  6. Stay low. Heat and smoke rise.
  7. Feel doors before opening. If they are hot, leave the door closed and evacuate via another route.
  8. Security will notify the EAT Leadership.

What to Do in a Fire Emergency

In the event of a fire or hazardous materials emergency, it is urgent for all occupants to evacuate quickly and safely. A fire alarm is triggered by the activation of one of the following:

  • Pull station
  • Sprinkler flow switch
  • Smoke detector in a public area or mechanical room
  • Heat detector
  • Duct detector

If you are in a fire emergency:

  • Pull the fire alarm if you discover a fire and if the alarm is not already sounding.
  • Leave the building immediately using the closest emergency exit. If the nearest exit is blocked by fire, heat or smoke, go to another exit.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Close doors behind you (DO NOT LOCK). This will help confine the fire.
  • Call 911 when it is safe to do so.
  • Move to a safe location away from buildings or to your building's designated refuge area.
  • Crawl if there is heavy smoke around. Cleaner, cooler air will be near the floor.
  • Feel doors before opening them. If it is hot, do not open the door. If it is cool, brace yourself against the door, open it slightly, and if heat or heavy smoke are present, close the door and stay out of the room.
  • Never assume that an alarm is false.
  • Re-enter the building only when given the "all clear" by the fire department or security.
  • Portable fire extinguishers are provided in some buildings, but it is NOT the responsibility of building occupants to perform fire suppression activities. Only trained individuals should attempt to use an extinguisher. Those that choose to use an extinguisher do so at their own risk.

If you are unable to exit the building:

  • Go to the nearest exit stairwell and call 911 to report your location.
  • If unable to get to a stairwell, keep the doors closed around you and call 911 to report your location.
  • Place cloth material at the bottom of the door to prevent smoke from entering your location. Wet the cloth if possible.
  • Attempt to signal your location from a window.


The fire alarm is triggered automatically or via a fire alarm pull station. Fire alarm systems for all UMGC facilities have an audible tone as well as flashing “fire” lights. Additional Public Address announcements or Emergency Text Alert messaging may be used in conjunction with a building fire alarm.


Full Evacuation:
A fire alarm mandates an immediate full evacuation of the building that is in the alarm condition.

Procedures for Faculty and Staff:

  • Evacuate the building when the alarm sounds. Follow your building's designated evacuation procedures.
  • Know your area and the location of the nearest fire alarm pull station and exits.
  • If you discover a fire or see or smell smoke of an undetermined origin, activate the nearest fire alarm pull station immediately. If a fire alarm pull station is not readily available, call security or 911.
  • Department managers, supervisors, and security liaisons are responsible for the evacuation of their department and accounting for all staff at the refuge site.
  • Employees should be prepared to properly respond to guests and student inquiries by advising them to evacuate the building using the nearest emergency exit, not the elevators.
  • The responsibility of reporting the discovery of a fire or smoke rests with every employee. Tragedy can be avoided if people are warned in time of escape.

Only the fire department can give the "all clear" and allow for employees, students, and guests to re-enter the buildings.

Evacuation Procedures

Read about evacuation procedures and assembly areas at UMGC.

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