If a fire alarm has been activated, always assume that there is a fire. Know the locations of fire extinguishers, posted evacuation routes, exits, and fire alarm systems in your area.
Do not prop open doors or otherwise block hallway and or exit doors. Open doors can allow smoke and fire to enter stairwells and exit hallways, severely jeopardizing safe evacuation and hampering efforts of fire department personnel.
If you discover a fire:
- Activate the nearest fire alarm pull station.
- Alert people in the immediate area of the danger and that they need to evacuate. Immediately exit the building, closing doors between you and the fire.
- When you are in a place of safety, dial 911, and 309-337-5713 from a cell phone and inform the respondent of the location and nature of the fire.
If the Fire Alarm sounds:
- Walk to the nearest exit, closing doors between you and the fire.
- Do not use elevators.
- Assist people with disabilities. See the section entitled "Evacuation for People with Disabilities."
- Stay at least 300 feet from the building.
- Notify fire personnel if you suspect someone is trapped in the building.
- Remain outside until notified by emergency personnel or college officials that it is safe to re-enter the building.
- If exiting a classroom the instructor may ask students to assemble in a designated gathering place and attempt to account for all persons. The instructor should make certain that all students have left the classroom before he or she exits.
If trapped in a room:
- Close as many doors as possible between you and the fire.
- Place cloth material (wet if possible) around or under the door to prevent smoke from entering the room.
- Be prepared to signal from a window to someone outside or by shouting at regular intervals.
If trapped in smoke:
- Drop and crawl toward an exit.
- Hold your breath as much as possible.
- Breathe slowly through nose using a towel or shirt as a filter.
If forced to advance through flames:
- Hold your breath.
- Move quickly.
- Cover your head and hair.
- Keep your head down and your eyes closed as much as possible.
Fire extinguisher use:
- Only use an extinguisher to attempt to extinguish a small fire and only if you have been trained.
- If you have any doubt about your ability to fight the fire, exit immediately.
- An extinguisher can be used to suppress a fire that blocks your exit from the building.
- Remember PASS, the four basic steps to operating a fire extinguisher.
- P: Pull the pin. This will break the tamper seal.
- A: Aim the extinguisher hose at the base of the fire
- S: Squeeze the lever/handle to release the agent.
- S: Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire.
A continuing emphasis is placed on fire prevention at Monmouth College. However, when prevention fails, we must be prepared for evacuation to assure survival. A clear understanding of the characteristics of fire and smoke is essential for escape in a fire situation. Fire is hot and heat rises; therefore, at ceiling levels, temperatures are hottest. Oxygen is burned at high levels first, so air is available on the floor. Smoke that is produced banks down to knee level and hovers there, even in serious fires. If you remain in a prone position or crawl, chances are you will be able to breathe and even see across the floor to a fire exit or area of refuge.
Should the need arise to evacuate a building because of fire, follow these procedures:
Go to your door. Using the back of your hand, feel the door from top to bottom for heat.
- If it's hot, don't open it. If it's cool, go to Step 2.
- If the door is hot, go to Step 8.
- Brace yourself behind the door and open it slowly.
- Just because the door isn't hot doesn't mean there isn't fire or heavy smoke on the other side. If the environment outside isn't favorable, close the door and go on to Step 9.
- Enter the hallway, and make your way to the nearest exit.
- Know your exits and weigh the situation, can you make it to the nearest exit?
- Exit the building via stairwells.
- Do not use elevators; you could become trapped or an overheated circuit may bring you to the floor of the fire.
- If your assigned stairwell is blocked by smoke and heat, go to an alternate exit.
- However, if you choose to leave and there's no indication of smoke in the corridor, close your door and leave it unlocked as you may be forced to return to your room by heavier smoke and heat.
- Once you have exited the building, stand away from it and wait for the order to return (or to evacuate the area).
- If both your exits are blocked, go back to your room or area of refuge.
- Remember, if you have closed your door and left it unlocked, the environment in your room should be relatively free of smoke.
- Pack the doorframe with wet towels, sheets, whatever you have on hand.
- Keep a towel to cover your face as well.
- Stay close to the floor. Proceed to your window and open the top and bottom.
- The smoke will escape through the upper portion and you'll be able to obtain fresh air through the lower portion.
- Let everyone within hearing distance be aware that you are trapped.
- Yell and wave a towel outside the window; and, most of all, stay near the window.