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Fire Safety Program

01.             POLICY STATEMENTS


01.01   The university’s fire safety program is designed to prevent or reduce property loss and injury from fire and explosions arising from storage, handling, and use of flammable and combustible substances, materials, and devices. The procedures incorporated into this policy are essential in promoting fire and life safety and enhancing university compliance with applicable state, local, and national fire and life safety standards.


01.02   Costs of fire safety systems and repairs are generally funded by the area in which an activity or program is located. State funds are utilized for educational and general (E&G) facilities (such as academic buildings). Non-state funds are utilized for non-E&G facilities (such as residence halls).


01.03   Non-compliance with fire safety codes and standards can result in sanctions against the university as well as posing serious risks to students, employees, visitors and university property. Disciplinary action may be taken against university students and employees who do not comply with this policy and associated regulations. In some cases, criminal and financial penalties may also be charged for non-compliance.


01.04   The university’s fire safety program will comply with NFPA 1 (Uniform Fire Code), NFPA 70 (National Electrical Code), NFPA 101 (Life Safety Code), and International Building Code and its associated Mechanical and Plumbing Codes.


02.             DEFINITIONS


02.01  Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) – National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) title for the organization, office, or individual responsible for approving equipment, materials, an installation, or fire safety procedures in accordance with NFPA rules and regulations. [Refer to NFPA 101-3.2.2]


02.02   Building Official (BO) – The officer or other designated authority charged with the administration and enforcement of the International Building Code (IBC).


02.03   Egress – A continuous and unobstructed way of travel from any point in a building or structure to a public way consisting of three separate and distinct parts: 1) the exit access, 2) the exit, and 3) the exit discharge. 


02.04   Exit Corridor – A pedestrian pathway that allows direct access to the outside of a building and allows access to a building entrance and subsequent pathways to the outside of the building.


02.05   Flammable and Combustible Materials – A general classification given to gaseous, liquid, or solid materials that are capable of being ignited in the presence of air or oxygen when exposed to a heat source and are burning rapidly. Examples of common flammable materials are: natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, naphthas, gasolines, oils, organic powders, films, paper and paper materials, powdered solids such as powdered metals, sawdust, plastics such as polystyrene, polyethylene, synthetic and natural rubbers, aerosols, paints, lacquers, floor cleaning agents, and all other flammable organic material that have not been specifically treated to be flame retardant.


02.06   International Building Code (IBC) – Code that establishes the minimum requirements to safeguard the public health, safety and general welfare through structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, energy conservation, and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the building environment.


02.07   National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)An international professional nonprofit organization with the mission of reducing the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by developing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. NFPA serves as the world's leading advocate of fire prevention and is an authoritative source on public safety.


02.08   Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) – An organization which is recognized by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as one which tests for safety, and lists or labels or accepts equipment or materials. Examples of NRTL’s are: Underwriters Laboratory (UL), MET Laboratory, Electrical Testing Labs (ETL), and Canadian Safety Agency (CSA). [Refer to OSHA 1910.7]


02.09   Open Flame – Any fire regardless of size or origin. This includes candles, incense burners, and fireworks capable of igniting flammable or combustible materials in the area of the flame, spark, burner, or explosive. 


02.10   State Fire Marshal (SFM) – Any official member of the state fire marshal's office.


02.11   Violation – A condition or hazard identified as an infringement of applicable state, local, and national fire and life safety standards.


03.             RESPONSIBILITIES


03.01   Responsibilities associated with this policy are listed below. In their absence or on an ongoing basis, each position listed may delegate some of the duties. However, delegation does not relieve the positions of their responsibility for the activities listed.


03.02   The director, Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management (or designee) has primary responsibility for administration of and compliance with the university’s fire safety program. Duties of Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management include:


a.    inspecting university buildings and property on a regular schedule for fire safety hazards, risks, or in response to a notice of a possible violation. In carrying out this duty, the director, Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management (or designee) shall have the authority to enter any university building, structure, room, office or laboratory;


b.    recommending preventive and corrective action and working with university departments to assure appropriate action is taken;


c.     establishing and coordinating fire safety training programs to comply with regulatory requirements or upon request of department heads and account managers;


d.    serving as the official university contact with state and local fire marshals and other state agencies regarding fire safety;


e.    preparing mandated reports and compiling and disseminating data related to the fire safety program;


f.     communicating local, state, and national fire safety requirements to university officials;


g.    maintaining records related to the fire safety program in accordance with the record retention schedule of the university and the State of Texas;


h.    conducting emergency and relocation drills and other associated duties as outlined in the Fire Alarms, Fire Drills and Facilities Evacuation policy;


i.      ensuring the performance of annual inspections and commission of fire detection and suppression systems and fire reporting devices;


j.     serving as the university fire marshal to advise the university departments on fire safety issues;


k.    serving as the “Authority Having Jurisdiction” (AHJ) for fire safety codes and standards;


l.      serving as ex-officio member of the University Safety Committee;


m.   investigating all fires occurring on university property;


n.    working closely with the San Marcos Fire Department and other emergency response agencies to assure they are informed about the campus so as to be prepared in case of an emergency; and


o.   approving waivers of university fire safety policies and procedures.

03.03 The associate vice president for Facilities (or designee) has primary responsibility for the installation, renovation, modification, and maintenance of university physical property. Duties of the associate vice president for Facilities include:


a.    designing and implementing applicable provisions of the building and electrical codes and standards to new and existing buildings to the extent practicable;


b.    maintaining and monitoring fire detection and suppression systems and fire reporting devices;


c.     assigning and scheduling personnel and materials necessary to eliminate or reduce fire hazards associated with university buildings, building systems, and other university property; and


d.    serving as the “Designated Building Official” for building and electrical codes.


03.04   Department heads and account managers (or designees) in academic and staff positions have the following responsibilities:


a.    ensuring departmental procedures comply with this policy;


b.    identifying specific fire hazards and deficiencies within their department and purchasing appropriate equipment (such as UL-approved extension cords);


c.     ensuring compliance from departmental employees who disregard this policy;


d.    communicating identified hazards and deficiencies to the Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management Office and the Facilities Department;


e.    correcting procedural violations as soon as practical upon receipt of a violation notice;


f.     consulting with the director, Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management for fire safety concerns, if necessary;


g.    arranging for payment of costs and fees associated with eliminating fire hazards due to department’s negligence; and


h.   training departmental staff by ensuring employee participation in new employee or new faculty orientation and ensuring employees are aware of the following:

1)   fire exit and building evacuation procedures in accordance with the Fire Alarms, Fire Drills and Facilities Evacuation; and

2)   fire prevention policies and procedures outlined in this policy with emphasis on Section 04., Fire Prevention Procedures.


03.05   University employees and students have the following responsibilities:


a.    compliance with university fire safety and related policies and procedures;


b.    reporting deficiencies of fire prevention, suppression, or evacuation features in university buildings to the appropriate university department for repair; and


c.     familiarization with fire extinguishers and fire alarm pull station locations in the vicinity of the area occupied.


03.06   Housing and Residential Life will disseminate fire prevention policies and procedures to student residents.


03.07   Student Affairs will disseminate fire prevention policies and procedures to appropriate students, as required by law.


03.08   Faculty members will inform students of fire safety and evacuation procedures, as required by law.


03.09   The University Safety Committee will review fire safety issues and recommend changes to university fire safety program.


03.10   Vice presidents, deans, directors, and chairs are responsible for their own employees’ awareness of fire safety policies and procedures.



04.01   Fire prevention is an important component of the university’s fire safety program. Fire prevention offers the greatest protection against injury or property loss and involves taking action to minimize or eliminate fire hazards. All university employees and students should be aware of potential fire safety hazards and report them to Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management for corrective action. [Refer to NFPA 1, Chapter 20.2]


04.02   The following fire prevention procedures apply to all university property (other than the President’s House). 


a.    Open flames, smoldering burners and ignition devices are prohibited in university buildings. This includes candles, fireworks, bonfires, and fireplaces.


b.   Exceptions for the use of open flames, burners and ignition devices include authorized exceptions listed in Section 04.02 b. 1) below; these do not require approval prior to use. All other exceptions require written approval from the director of Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management. Requests for such exceptions must be submitted at least ten working days prior to the proposed use. 

1)   Authorized exceptions for open flame operations include:

a)   commercial cooking in designated food preparation areas complying with NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations;

b)  open flame burners used in university-approved laboratories complying with NFPA 45, Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories using Chemicals; and

c)   employees or students engaged in welding, brazing, or similar flame- or spark-producing operations must obtain authorization from their supervisor or manager. The supervisor or manager in the work area must adhere to Facilities PPS titled “Welding, Cutting and Brazing” and obtain a hot work permit, if applicable.

2)   Other exceptions – Any situation not listed in Section 04.02 b. 1) above that proposes a need to use open flames, smoldering burners, or other ignition sources must have written approval from the director of Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management. This includes the use of an open flame in a theatrical or stage performance. Justification for the exception must be explained in writing and submitted to the director of Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management at least ten working days prior to the proposed use.


b.    Fireworks – Firework displays on university property must be sponsored by a university department or officially registered student organization. Written requests to discharge fireworks require the licensed vendor to submit a proposal to the director of Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management and the local city fire marshal. The written proposal must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the proposed event.


c.     Smoking – In accordance with the Tobacco Policy, smoking is prohibited on university property.


e.   Electrical connections must conform to the following requirements:

1)   Electrical equipment must be NRL-listed and shall be plugged into electrical wall outlets. The use of extension cords to provide permanent electrical connections is prohibited.

2)   Only use extension cords when necessary and only on a temporary basis. Use only NRTL-approved three-wire extension cords with three prongs. The use of light-duty, flat two-wire extension cords is prohibited.

3)   Only use power strips that are NRTL-approved. Power strips must not exceed six outlets on the strip and cannot be plugged into each other in a series.


f.    Flammable and combustible liquids must be stored in specially designed flammable materials storage cabinets and fire resistant containers within campus buildings. Large quantities of flammable materials (more than authorized under NFPA 45 - Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories using Chemicals) must be stored outside of buildings or in special hazardous storage areas in compliance with the NFPA codes detailed below. Refer to NFPA 45 Table for specifications of the amounts that constitute “large quantities.”

1)     NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids code

2)     NFPA 45, Fire Protection for Laboratories using Chemicals

3)     NFPA 54, National Fuel Gas code

4)     NFPA 58, Liquid Petroleum Gas code


g.    Mechanical rooms and stairwells cannot be used for storage at any time.


h.    The use of devices such as doorstops, wedges, or restraints to hold a fire door open is prohibited.


i.      In rooms with sprinkler heads, storage and furnishings must be at least eighteen inches below the sprinkler head to ensure the sprinklers are effective during a fire. No material shall be attached to a sprinkler head.


j.     Refueling operations – Fuel transfer containers used to refuel lawn mowers or other small engines must be properly grounded during the refueling operation. To protect against static electricity, the fuel nozzle must be placed against the filler tube and a grounding cable to provide a path for an electrical current, if present.


k.    Corridors and stairways leading to exits must have at least 44 inches clear width of unobstructed clutter-free space at all times. All corridor doors in the path of egress must be operable without the use of keys, special tools, or knowledge.


l.      Exit doors must be equipped with a latch with a releasing device having an obvious method of operation to allow easy egress during a fire. Installation of deadbolt locks or additional locking devices is prohibited.


m.   Barbeque grills, hibachi-type grills, camping stoves, and other cooking devices are prohibited in university buildings, in door openings, on balconies, within 40 feet of university buildings, or directly under a tree, shrub or other flammable material. Permanent outdoor grills constructed prior to October 2003 are exempt from this requirement. Any grills constructed or repaired after that date must be brought into compliance.


n.    Holiday decorations must be flame retardant. Live Christmas trees are prohibited in university buildings and artificial trees must be flame retardant. All holiday lights must be NRTL-approved.


o.    Portable electric heaters are not allowed. Any exceptions to this policy must be received in writing from the director of Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management and the associate vice president for Facilities.


p.    Modifications to university building structures or systems require authorization of the Facilities Department. Costs of reversing and correcting unauthorized building/system modifications may be charged to the person or department that caused the modifications.


q.    Halogen bulbs (such as those used in torchere lamps) are prohibited. Use of halogen bulbs may be allowed as part of an architect- or engineer-designed construction project and as portable lighting for facilities operations if approved by the director of Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management and only if installed in accordance with NFPA 70, National Electric Code.


r.    Small Appliances can only be used in designated kitchen/kitchenette area or designed areas. Small Appliances used in these designated areas must be approved by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) Program.

  • An exemption can be requested for small appliances if the venue is outside a designated area or break area. Small Appliance Exemption Form must be submitted with the required signature to the Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management Office for final approval.



05.01   The Facilities Department must maintain and ensure installed fire alarms, sprinklers, fire pumps, and smoke detectors, are operational at all times. Account managers must be familiar with the fire systems within their areas.


05.02   Any non-operational fire safety systems found or observed by the faculty, staff or students must be reported to the Facilities Department and Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management for immediate corrective action. Tampering with the fire safety system is a criminal offense and will be handled as such by the University Police Department.

06.       WAIVERS


06.01   The director of Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management is responsible for granting waivers to university fire safety policies and procedures (refer to Section 03.03 n.). Waivers may be granted on a case-by-case basis or as a blanket approval which applies to a specific type of event, function, or use.

07.       REFERENCES


07.01   References to other fire safety university policies, and state and federal regulations are as follows: 


Texas Department of Insurance

Texas State Fire Marshal

National Fire Protection Association

Tobacco Policy

Fire Alarms, Fire Drills and Facilities Evacuation

Hazard Communication Program    



08.01   Reviewers of this policy include the following:


Position                                                            Date


University Safety Committee


University Safety Committee, Chair


Director of Environmental Health, Safety
& Risk Management