The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) answers some of your questions regarding fire safety regulations and policy.
Why can’t State mandated fire inspections be held on a pre-determined scheduled?
There are approximately 25 inspectors to cover the vast system of buildings on State college and university campuses in addition to State government buildings and numerous local municipalities under their responsibility. It is their position that it is impossible to establish pre-determined inspection schedules. We requested a schedule (in advance) of when they will inspect and they declined.
Why are there so many fire drills?
In accordance with NJ Fire Code requirements, four fire drills are conducted in all student residence halls and two scheduled fire drills are conducted in all academic and administrative buildings during the calendar year.
Can the College count “false and unwanted fire alarms” as fire drills?
NJ Fire Code prohibits “false and unwanted fire alarms” from being counted toward the minimum required fire drills. While they are a nuisance, inconvenient, and in some cases unlawful, the College Fire Marshal utilizes “false and unwanted fire alarms” as opportunities to evaluate and improve student and staff response times to fire alarms.
Why can’t we keep our suite/apartment entry doors propped open?
The doors are fire rated; therefore the doors are smoke and heat barriers. If a fire occurs, the doors keep the fire and smoke from spreading into the halls or from the hallways into the rooms. The NJ State Fire Code requires that room entry doors close and latch without the intervention of human assistance.
I need every inch of space in my room! Why are there rules regarding egress?
A minimum of 36” of egress is required. If an egress is blocked, particularly in dark or smoky conditions, you may not be able to find it, stumble approaching it, or may be unable to remove the blockage. Also, blocked egress may inhibit the rescue efforts of emergency responders.
Why can’t egress doors be decorated; covered in birthday gift wrap or holiday paper etc.?
Materials attached to egress doors can serve as fuel for a fire and decrease the ability of the door to resist burning and containing the fire. Secondly, items placed on a door can obscure the fact that it is a door, in particular under smoky conditions or in the dark; and finally, it may inhibit the rescue efforts of emergency responders.
Why can’t we hang tapestries and other wall coverings; we can’t have anything on our walls and ceilings?
Tapestries and similar wall coverings (banners, coverlets, blankets, sheets, paneling, some cardboard materials, etc.) will feed a fire and allow it to travel quickly throughout the entire space. Secondly, wall coverings, if set afire, will fall onto anyone who is in the room. Finally, wall coverings hung across walls and ceilings prevent the sprinklers from suppressing the fire and smoke detectors from functioning as intended.
Decorative materials/wall coverings (photos, most posters, certificates, proclamations, etc.) that are 0.025 inches or less in thickness are permitted. However, they should not completely cover the walls or ceilings or be located close to any heat source.
What do disorderly conditions have to do with fire safety?
Residents frequently ask: what do piles of clothing on the floor have to do with fire safety? Piles of anything strewn around a room constitute a tripping hazard and a hindrance to egress. These piles will feed a fire and allow it to travel quickly throughout the entire space.
Can I have candles and incense? I won’t light the candles; they are just for decorative purposes!
The NJ Fire Code prohibits the use of candles and incense in residential student housing. In the event of a power outage, the likelihood of decorative candles being used for lighting is significantly increased; thereby increasing the risk of fire.
Why can’t I use extension cords etc.? I don’t have enough electrical outlets!
If you need additional outlet capacity, the College requires that you use a breaker type power strip and plug it directly into a wall outlet. If the electrical load becomes too great, the breaker will trip instead of shorting out the receptacle (increasing the risk of a fire). Extension cords, adapter/cubes, piggy backed power strips (plugging one power strip into another power strip) are not permitted in residence halls.
A false fire alarm fine is $500! Why?
False fire alarms are illegal! They contribute to a feeling of complacency which can result in ignoring a fire alarm when there is a genuine emergency.
Why do we get penalized for tampering with/covering smoke detectors, fire sprinklers, and/or carbon monoxide detectors?
All of the life safety systems in your room are there to alert you in case of an emergency. Should a fire occur while the smoke detector and/or sprinkler head is covered or blocked, you and others in the building will not be warned because the alarm will not be activated. The same is true for the carbon monoxide detector.
Smoke detectors are your first line of defense against smoke from fires!
They alert you to the presence of smoke, do not cover or block smoke detectors intentionally.
Fire sprinklers help to extinguish fires!
If you cover or hang items on any component of the sprinkler system, the sprinkler cannot function as intended. Also, placing an item on a sprinkler system may weaken and damage it. As a result, the room may become flooded causing damage to personal and College property.
Carbon monoxide detectors are your first line of defense against carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be fatal!
If the detector is covered or tampered with, it cannot function as intended.