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Fire safety

Every year in the UK around 600 people die and more than 16,000 are injured as a result of fires in their own homes. The University takes fire safety in halls very seriously. Simply knowing some of the basic information contained here could have prevented many of these deaths and injuries.

This information explains what we expect from you and what you can expect from the University in order to ensure your safety. Please read, understand and, most importantly, follow this guidance. It may seem like it is a list of things we're trying to prohibit – such as smoking or cooking in bedrooms – but it's the best way to ensure your safety.

Fire safety equipment

The University's halls of residence are purpose-built blocks, inspected and maintained to ensure they stay in good condition. They are subject to a fire risk assessment and are fitted with a mixture of smoke and heat detection as appropriate, as well as 'break glass' alarm call points.

These are connected to an alarm system that is loud enough to wake up anyone sleeping and will sound if any device – sensor or call point – is activated. Security receives an electronic alarm notification, and then calls the fire brigade.

Please remember that participation in fire drills, wherever they may be held, and evacuating any premises where an alarm is sounding, is compulsory.

If a fire should occur in your hall, your chances of avoiding injury may depend on how quickly and safely you are able to leave the building. When fire occurs, smoke and fumes spread with frightening speed. Smoke and fumes can kill – particularly highly poisonous smoke from some burning furnishings. Your life and the lives of your friends could depend on you.

If you have any questions on fire safety, the halls management staff will be pleased to assist you.

Fire safety arrangements

We can't and won't condone any unsafe act. All halls are monitored for fire safety arrangements – the measures are set out here, such as making sure the corridors are clear.

If a fire alarm activates, we investigate the cause each time. If necessary, we may ask anyone involved to attend an interview to explain the circumstances that led to the alarm being activated.

We can, and will, apply penalties for any breaches. Any penalty imposed – which can range from advice as to how to stop a recurrence of a false alarm to a notice to quit the halls – will depend on the circumstances; each case is considered separately.

If you hear a fire alarm:

  • Stop what you are doing and leave the premises at once by the nearest fire exit.
  • Look for the green directional signs. In some buildings, the activation of a fire alarm will release magnetic locks that will normally hold some doors closed, so there may be a more direct route than usual out of the building.
  • Close all doors and windows as you go, so long as it does not delay you leaving.
  • Do not use lifts (they can create air movement and could open their doors where the fire is).
  • Ensure everyone is evacuating the premises. Report any concerns to security immediately.
  • As you leave, check that your neighbours have heard the alarm.
  • Go to the designated assembly point.
  • Keep away from any building entrance. This will help provide easy access for the emergency services.
  • Do not re-enter the building just because the fire alarm stops sounding. Wait until the formal 'all clear' has been given.
  • If you believe somebody is trapped or missing, inform the responsible person or the fire brigade.
  • If there is smoke, make your way out by crawling on the floor.

If you discover a fire:

  • Sound the alarm.
  • Leave the building by the nearest available exit.
  • Report to the assembly point.
  • Do not return to the building until authorised to do so.
  • Do not use the lifts.

Fire prevention

General tips:

  • Housekeeping is important – keep everything clean and tidy.
  • Do not allow rubbish to accumulate in your bedroom or corridors.
  • Ensure you sign in friends if they come into halls.
  • Keep fire doors closed – they save lives.
  • Get to know the different fire extinguishers in your area and how to use them – for instance, you must never use a water extinguisher on a fire involving cooking fat, such as in a frying pan (instead use a fire blanket).
  • Report any concerns to the halls management team.
  • Make it a habit to identify at least two escape routes in case the first one is blocked.
  • Don't interfere with fire alarms or fire equipment – it can endanger lives and is a criminal offence.

Fire prevention in kitchens:

  • Clean up after you cook. In particular, make sure you clean the grill or any pans after you have finished cooking.
  • The use of toasters and cooking equipment in bedrooms is forbidden – there are more flammable items in a bedroom than a kitchen, and access can be difficult if a fire breaks out.
  • Never leave cooking unattended – even for a short while. Turn off the heat if you need to leave a kitchen.
  • Follow the instructions for cooking – don't exceed times or temperatures. If you're not sure how to cook something, please obtain advice.
  • Cooking in deep fat/oil is forbidden – it presents a high risk should it catch fire. Deep fat fryers are prohibited for the same reasons.
  • Never put wet food into hot fat – dry it on a paper towel first. Ensure oil isn't so hot that it is smoking. This is a sign that it's very near ignition point. Before putting food in the pan, dry the food and test the temperature of the oil by putting in a small piece of bread. If the bread crisps up quickly (30 seconds), the oil is ready.
  • Use the extraction fans whenever you are cooking.
  • Do not prop the kitchen door open – this prevents separation of the kitchen from the corridor and can activate the smoke detection in the hallways.
  • Do not use candles or similar items during dinner parties etc – there are no exceptions!
  • Do not interfere with fire equipment at any time. This could endanger lives.
  • Do not overload sockets – use only one plug per socket.
  • Do not cook if you are affected by alcohol or prescription drugs.

Fire prevention in your study/bedroom:

  • Do not block the ventilation outlets of televisions/computers or any electrical equipment.
  • Smoking is now prohibited by law in all enclosed and substantially enclosed public premises in the UK. Smoking is therefore not permitted inside any area of a Kingston University hall of residence. Please respect this, and never try to get round these restrictions by, for instance, covering a smoke detector.
  • Kingston University's policy also prohibits smoking within 10 metres of any entrance and near any open windows on all sites. This prevents non-smokers having to inhale smoke when in their rooms/offices or when entering or leaving a building. Please respect this at all locations.
  • Keep even very small amounts of any flammable liquids that you might use (eg varnishes, thinners, paints and glues) properly sealed and secure.
  • The use of candles, oil lamps or similar devices with naked flames is prohibited – it could lead to your eviction from halls.
  • Electric fires, gas lamps/stoves or similar equipment are not allowed. If you have a particular need, speak to the halls management, who will do their best to assist you.
  • Do not overload sockets. If you need to use an extension lead, check with halls management first. Never use a 'cube' socket doubler – these are often unfused and can be dangerous.
  • Do not attempt to undertake electrical repairs or quick 'make-do' electrical jobs.
  • Do not interfere with fire equipment at any time. This could endanger lives.
  • Ensure your electrical appliances are safe to use (check that cables, plugs etc are not damaged).

What to do if a fire breaks out

If a fire breaks out in the kitchen:

  • Go to the nearest fire alarm call point and break the glass if the alarms aren't already activated.
  • Can you turn the appliance involved off at the socket? If you can, do so – but never put yourself at risk of injury.
  • Can you use the fire blanket? If you can, do so. If not, get out of the room and close the door behind you.
  • Evacuate the premises.
  • Ensure security is informed by ringing 020 8417 6666 (extension 66666 from an internal telephone) or mobile security on 07831 136 082.

If a fire breaks out in your study/bedroom:

  • Go to the nearest fire alarm call point and break the glass.
  • Let someone else know what's happened.
  • Can you put the fire out? If yes, for example if the fire is still very small (an item of electrical equipment smoking), use the appropriate extinguisher. Never put yourself at risk – fumes can be deadly.
  • Never let a fire get between you and your exit. If you are not completely sure, get out of the room and close the door behind you.
  • Evacuate the premises.
  • Ensure security are informed by ringing 020 8417 6666 (extension 66666 from an internal telephone) or mobile security on 07831 136 082.