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Fire Safety Policies

Fire Alarms
When a building fire alarm activates on campus, residents must leave the building immediately and remain at the designated gathering point until their presence is recorded. Both campus police officers and the Amherst Fire Department respond. Students who are found responsible for failure to leave a campus building when a fire alarm is activated may receive sanctions which may include community service and/or a fine of up to $300 and a deferred status sanction which could lead to probation, housing relocation, or removal from campus housing. No one may reenter the building until the fire department determines that it is safe to return. Campus police may open and enter locked rooms to ensure that no one is inside and to check for the source or cause of the fire alarm.

Campus police and residence life staff conduct fire drills at least one time per semester in each residence area. All occupants of a residence hall must leave the building immediately any time the alarm sounds. These drills are not announced and staff may enter each apartment, hallway, and room to ensure compliance with proper evacuation procedures. If staff discover fire safety or other violations, students will be contacted by an administrator regarding the violation(s) and any prohibited items will be confiscated.

If a fire alarm activates and an individual knows the cause, this individual is required to call campus police from a safe location and explain what happened. If the fire alarm is activated inadvertently (cooking smoke, shower steam, etc.), the individual responsible must be available to talk to campus police and the fire department. If the alarm is the result of negligent behavior (for example, smoking, leaving cooking unattended) the following sanctions will be imposed:

  • First offense: meeting with an administrator, fire safety review, and/or community service (see General Sanction information)
  • Second offense: community service and/or a charge of $100 for each individual being held accountable
  • Third offense: community service and/or a fine of $300 each.

For second or third offenses additional sanctions, including but not limited to Deferred Status Sanctions and Housing Sanctions may be imposed. When responsible individuals cannot be identified, all residents of that particular area may be found responsible. Additional sanctions may apply if the alarm is caused by a prohibited activity.

Tampering with Fire Safety Equipment
Fire extinguishers and fire detection and alarm systems are in place to protect the community. Tampering with fire safety devices is a serious violation of the Norms for Community Living and Policies and is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • disabling smoke detectors
  • covering smoke detectors with any materials whatsoever
  • activating an alarm when no hazard is present
  • hanging items from sprinkler pipes
  • discharging, tampering with or moving fire extinguishers

Tampering with fire safety equipment will result in the following sanctions: 

  • First offense:  20 hours community service (includes time devoted to educational project designed to inform community of pertinent fire safety issues); reflection paper; deferred probation
  • Second offense: probation and permanent removal from campus housing

When responsible individuals cannot be identified, all residents of that particular area may be found responsible.

Open Fires
Open fires (inside or outside) are prohibited anywhere on campus or College property, including fire pits, woods, and fields unless prior written approval is granted by the director of campus police and the town fire department. Please contact the Greenwich/Enfield area coordinator for safety information and expectations for registering to use the Enfield fire pit at 413.559.5314.

Use of grills (charcoal and gas) is not permitted inside, on balconies, or exterior stairwells. Charcoal barbecues are permitted on the grounds, but must take place at least 25 feet (7.62 meters) from buildings. Propane gas containers must be stored outside, at least 3 feet (0.915 meters) away from building openings such as doors, windows, dryer vents and air intakes. Barbecue grills must not be left unattended and must be totally extinguished before leaving. The College may confiscate any barbecue grill that is used inappropriately and any container of propane gas or other flammable liquid without notice.

Other open burning, including sage and other cleansing rituals, are not permitted in residence halls without the explicit written permission of the Office of Spiritual Life.

Additional Fire Safety Regulations
The College may confiscate any fire safety hazard, including but not limited to prohibited items listed below, from any place, including student rooms and lockers, at any time, with or without notice. The College has no obligation to identify the owner of confiscated property,  notify the owner of any confiscation,  or reimburse the owner of confiscated property for any loss or damage to said property.

  • Halls, entrances, and egresses, including egress routes through common spaces, must be kept clear of all items at all times. This includes entryways to buildings, center rooms in Greenwich Area, and all stairwells. Bicycles, skateboards, or other items, may not be stored in hallways or entryways.
  • No more than 40 percent of wall space may be covered by combustibles, such as tapestries or posters. Nothing can be hung from ceilings. No combustible holiday decorations such as trees or wreaths are allowed. 
  • Student door postings are limited to the existing bulletin board or a 2’ x 2’ area (60.96 cm x 60.96 cm).
  • Light fixtures may not be covered by any materials (such as bedspreads, scarves, paper shades) nor may they be painted or darkened.
  • Combustibles, such as furniture, recycling, clothing, curtains, and garbage, must be kept at least 12 inches (30.48 cm) away from heaters.
  • No combustibles are permitted in hallways, stairwells, or egresses.
  • All gas-powered vehicles must be parked in student parking lots.
  • Other activities or items that pose an increased risk of fire or impede fire response will be prohibited upon discovery.

Prohibited Items
(Visit the Prohibited Items section for a full list of items prohibited in addition to fire safety prohibited items.)

  • Candles and incense are not permitted anywhere inside residential buildings.
  • Space heaters are not permitted in student rooms, with the exception of those provided by the College in response to a problem with the heating system.
  • Use of non-College alarm systems or other than College-issued locks, including locks on storage closets.
  • The storage and use of flammable liquids (e.g. gasoline, paint thinner, spray paint, air brushes) and flammable gases (e.g. propane, acetylene), fireworks or other materials that pose an increased fire hazard.
  • Halogen lamps are a significant fire safety hazard if there are combustibles too close to the bulb. The use of these lamps is prohibited. Lamps with plastic shades must use compact fluorescent or 40 watt or less bulbs.
  • Extension cords are not permitted unless UL-approved with surge protectors. Electrical cords should be kept at least 12 inches (30.48 cm) away from heaters.

Toaster ovens may be used only in kitchens or lounges. Microwaves and hot pots are permitted in student rooms. Appliances must be kept clean at all times and unplugged when not in use.