Fire alarms can occur for many different reasons. A building must be evacuated during an alarm regardless of the cause. No one may enter the building after an alarm until the "all clear" signal of three short alarm blasts is sounded.
The causes of fire alarms include fire in or around a building, destruction or intentional activation of detectors or pull stations, smoking, soiled detectors, smoke or steam from cooking, or defective detectors.
In some buildings, rooms contain battery-powered detectors. Residents must test these detectors weekly and record the results on the chart provided. Other buildings have system detectors, which do not need to be tested by residents. These are tested semi-annually by a qualified fire alarm testing company. See the list below for the type of smoke detectors in specific residence halls.
System Room Detectors
Ambler Johnston, Cochrane, Harper, Johnson, Lee, New Residence Hall East, Oak Lane D-R, O'Shaughnessy, Payne, Peddrew-Yates, Pritchard, Slusher, New Hall West
Battery-Powered Smoke Detectors
Barringer, East Campbell, Main Campbell, Main Eggleston, West Eggleston, Hillcrest, Miles, Monteith, Newman, Thomas, Vawter
AC-Powered, Single-Station Detectors
Oak Lane buildings A-C have AC-powered single-station smoke detectors, which require weekly, documented tests.
Testing Smoke Detectors
Testing battery-powered smoke detectors is easy and takes a minimal amount of time. Residents must test them once every week and record the results. A card with directions on how to test detectors is placed on the back of the door in student rooms. Please read it carefully and follow all instructions. Some smoke detectors are positioned higher than the resident may be able to reach safely. If this is the case, special smoke detector testing extensions have been placed in the resident advisor office and are available to students upon request.
If your smoke detector fails to operate properly, you must report the defect to your resident advisor or hall supervisor immediately.
Fire doors prevent the spread of fire and smoke throughout the building. All stairwell doors and some interior doors at Virginia Tech are fire doors. According to the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code, all fire doors must remain closed at all times. When stairwell doors remain closed, they prevent smoke from entering the stairwell and provide a safe means of egress from the building. For this reason, propping fire doors is not permitted.
Residence halls equipped with sprinkler systems include: Ambler Johnston, Harper, Lee, New Residence Hall East, Peddrew-Yates, O'Shaughnessy, Payne, New Hall West, Pritchard, Slusher, and Oak Lane D-R.
Sprinkler systems help contain and extinguish fires in buildings. The sprinkler heads are delicate pieces of equipment and will discharge water if damaged or destroyed. Residents must maintain an 18-inch clearance around sprinkler heads. Never play sports in the hall or hang items from sprinkler heads. One sprinkler head will discharge 50 gallons of water per minute and can cost several hundred dollars to replace.
All residence halls are equipped with fire alarm systems. Smoke and heat detectors are installed throughout all public areas, with manual pull stations at each exit. Sprinkler systems are tied into the fire alarm system and are monitored along with the detectors. The systems are tested periodically according to applicable code requirements.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas. It is not detectable by the five human senses.
Even though it is not yet required by any code, Housing and Residence Life has installed a carbon monoxide detector into the mechanical and laundry rooms of each residence hall that has natural gas appliances for the added protection of the residents. Each detector is hard wired into the fire alarm system of the building. Should CO be detected by a monitor it will generate a building alarm, much like a fire alarm. When the alarm sounds the building must be evacuated.
Buildings that have CO detectors (i.e., all those with a potential CO source) include Cochrane, Harper, Lee, Newman, New Residence Hall East, O'Shaughnessy, Payne, Pritchard and all Oak Lane houses.
Tips for preventing false alarms
- Attend to food while cooking.
- Keep your room clean, excessive dust can cause an alarm.
- Do not activate pull stations unless there is an emergency.
- Do not pull on, twist, or throw things at smoke detectors. The alarm may sound if the detector is damaged or destroyed.
- Do not play sports in the hall.
- Do not hang things on sprinkler heads or sprinkler pipes. If the sprinkler head is damaged, water will flow from the pipe and the alarm will sound.