7.04 Fire Safety


To establish general policies regarding the use of open flames, pyrotechnics (including fireworks), electrical appliances, holiday decorations and ceremonial fires, to establish a process for seeking exceptions and to identify responsibilities of students, faculty and staff for building evacuation.

Policy Statement

Public Safety is responsible for responding to fire alarms and to assist with building evacuation. 

Facilities Management is responsible for scheduling annual inspections and upkeep of alarms and fire safety equipment, including fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems in General Fund and Auxiliary Buildings. The Environmental Health and Safety Office will conduct periodic inspections of buildings and identify fire safety deficiencies that need to be corrected.

University Housing & Dining (UHD) is responsible for the upkeep of fire extinguishers for all UHD properties. The Environmental Health and Safety Office will conduct periodic inspections of UHD buildings and identify fire safety deficiencies that need to be corrected.

The Environmental Health and Safety Office is responsible for developing fire evacuation plans for the University’s facilities and can assist departments with developing evacuation and sheltering plans specific to each department. Students, faculty, and staff are responsible for orienting themselves to the facilities they use, for making themselves aware of the posted evacuation plans for those buildings, for conducting activities in the safest possible manner and for adhering to the fire safety policies. “Facilities” include locations housing programs such as UNI-Center for Urban Education, the Metal Casting Center/TechWorks facility, Iowa Waste Reduction Center, etc.

Students, faculty, and staff must evacuate a building when the fire alarm sounds using the nearest exit or the exit farthest from the fire or smoke and not re-enter a building until authorized by UNI police officers.  University facilities not located on campus come under the jurisdiction of the municipality in which they are located.

Open Flames:

The use of an open flame is prohibited unless approved by the Safety Officer or designee. Information and a request for an open flame/pyrotechnic permit can be obtained by visiting https://risk.uni.edu/open-flame-permits. Open flame equipment for instructional and maintenance purposes shall meet all safety requirements and reasonable precautions shall be taken in their operation to prevent personal injury and/or property damage.

Pyrotechnics (Including Fireworks):

The use of pyrotechnics, including fireworks, is prohibited unless approved by the Safety Officer or designee. Information and a request for an open flame/pyrotechnic permit can be obtained by visiting https://risk.uni.edu/open-flame-permits; and see the “Support Guide”. 


Refer to Guidelines on Open Flame Policy and Recreational Grilling.

Electrical Appliances:

  1. All appliances must be UL (Underwriters Laboratories) listed.
  2. Building light bulbs shall not be replaced with higher wattage bulbs than those for which the fixture was designed.
  3. Room switches and outlets shall not be modified.
  4. Electrical space heaters generally are not allowed in any University buildings. Exceptions to allow the use of space heaters can only be granted by authorization from the requesting employee’s/student’s division head (8.11 Energy Efficiency Policy). Should an exception be granted, space heaters must be connected directly to wall outlets and are to be disconnected at night or when leaving the area. Electric space heaters must be UL listed and equipped with tip over protection. The use of extension cords with space heaters is prohibited.  Electrical heaters may not be used in residence halls unless authorized by the Executive Director of UHD or designee.

Holiday Decorations:

  1. Natural trees and resinous greenery are prohibited for use as holiday decorations in all university buildings, unless authorized by the Safety Officer or designee.
  2. Artificial trees or other decorations must be flame proof.
  3. All lighting used on artificial trees must be UL listed sets and be checked annually for frayed wires, loose connections and broken sockets.
  4. Lighting on artificial trees and other decorations must be disconnected at night or when the area is expected to be vacant for longer than an hour.

Ceremonial Fires:

 Ceremonial fires are not allowed on University property. For religious burning practices, see Exceptions to Policies, below.


Fire and Evacuation Procedures:

  1. In the event of a fire, immediately evacuate the building. Activate the fire alarm system on your way out of the building if possible.
  2. Call 9-1-1 and identify where help is needed.
  3. Close all windows and doors, if possible, prior to leaving the room. Students in residence hall rooms should turn off lights, close windows, and close and lock the door.
  4. Do not use any elevator during building evacuation.

Non-Residential Facilities:

During a fire evacuation, individuals with disabilities not on ground level during a fire evacuation should go to the nearest stairwell making sure any fire doors are closed behind them. Each supervisor should be aware of any physically impaired personnel in their work areas and any special assistance needed to safely evacuate them.  Persons with disabilities who may require assistance in an emergency evacuation and their supervisor(s) should prepare a personal evacuation plan. This applies to all forms of impairments and whether it is permanent or temporary.  When a fire is reported, the caller should inform emergency personnel of any persons with disabilities inside the building.

University or Cedar Falls police and/or fire personnel will check stairwells as soon as possible after arriving to assist persons with disabilities.

Residential Facilities:

Residents in residential buildings who are not capable of exiting the room without assistance of another should remain in their room until firefighters arrive to assist them.  Residence Hall Professional Staff, Resident Assistants and other personnel shall have a list of rooms where residents are located and provide that information immediately to the first firefighters to arrive.

Personal Safety:

  1. Students, faculty and staff should make themselves aware of the locations of fire alarms, fire extinguishers and various exit routes from the offices, classrooms, laboratories and residence halls they frequent.
  2. Students, faculty and staff can visit the Office of Risk Management and Environmental Health and Safety website at https://risk.uni.edu for detailed information about fire safety and procedures.  The Environmental Health and Safety Office will schedule fire safety instruction when requested.   

Exceptions to Policies:

Requests for exceptions shall be directed to the University Safety Officer. Requests need to be accompanied by an open flame/pyrotechnic permit request. Requests shall identify the specifics of the exception and the area where an exception is requested.   The Safety Officer or designee may require an inspection of devices, etc. and the area for which the exception is requested prior to ruling on the request.

Office of Risk Management and Environmental Health and Safety, approved May 16, 2017
University Council, approved November 27, 2017
President and Executive Management Team, approved December 11, 2017 
[Last reviewed and/or updated: 4/2023, 12/2017]