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Fire Prevention Week

Everyone can help with UTSA fire prevention

By Brian Moroney
Associate Vice President for Communications and Marketing

(Sept. 29, 2008)--Staff members in the UTSA Office of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management (EHSRM) are working to make the UTSA community aware of two important national events -- National Campus Fire Safety Month (September) and National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 5-11). It's important to remember that everyone in the UTSA community can help with fire prevention.

EHSRM manages and maintains more than 100 fixed fire suppression systems in campus buildings, and more than 1,500 portable fire extinguishers. The EHSRM Fire Team also inspects campus buildings routinely to evaluate the means of egress during an emergency and works closely with the Office of Facilities Maintenance and Operations and the UTSA Police Department's Office of Business Continuity and Emergency Management to maintain and test the readiness of fire safety systems. In mid-October, the Texas fire marshal's office will come to UTSA to inspect for fire safety and code compliance.

Even with the attention given by EHSRM and facilities fire systems personnel to keep UTSA facilities at peak readiness, there are common fire safety concerns found during routine inspections and drills:

  • Blocked exit egress routes (furniture in hallways)
  • Obstructed exit egress signage (exit signs, building maps)
  • Obstructed fire emergency devices (fire sprinklers, detectors, alarms, panels)
  • Inappropriate use of extension cords (used for permanent power, daisy-chained together, used to power plug strips)
  • Selection of inappropriate multi-outlet adapters and plug strips (must be 15 amp maximum, UL-listed and equipped with circuit breaker)
  • Building occupants unwilling to evacuate during a building alarm (drill, false alarm or actual emergency)

UTSA building occupants can enhance the UTSA safety program by preventing these conditions from occurring, watching for these safety violations and correcting them. Property damage and personal injury from fires and fire response can be catastrophic.

EHSRM collaborates with the Facilities Services and Business Continuity and Emergency Management offices to improve UTSA preparedness by implementing fire drills. The drills can help occupants respond appropriately to emergencies by learning how to stay safe; full participation in drills now can help save lives later.

EHSRM activities include fire safety training for residential advisers, inspections of UTSA residential environments, annual inspection and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers, planning and evaluating fire drills in campus buildings, and continuing monthly inspections of fire sprinkler systems and building egress pathways. Additionally, EHSRM is presenting fire safety training for the home and office throughout the semester -- sign up through TX Class for course number SA473. The next session is Oct. 2.

Remember the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Nothing rings more true regarding the role everyone can play in helping to prevent fires at work or at home.

For more information on fire safety, contact the UTSA Office of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management at (210) 458-5250.

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Resources

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Safety tips

Cook with care

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period time, turn off the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire -- potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags -- away from your stovetop.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and lid handy. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, put on the oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner, and don't remove the lid until it is completely cool.

Everyday electrical safety

  • Keep lamps, light fixtures and light bulbs away from anything that can burn, such as lampshades, bedding, curtains and clothing.
  • Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords.
  • Use extension cords for temporary wiring only. Have additional circuits or receptacles added by a qualified electrician.
  • Homes with young children should have tamper-resistant electrical receptacles.
  • Call a qualified electrician or landlord if you have recurring problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers, discolored or warm wall outlets, flickering lights, or a burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance.

Healthy heating

  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • Turn portable space heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • An oven should not be used to heat a home.

Strike out smoking materials fires

  • If you smoke, choose fire-safe cigarettes if they are available in your area.
  • If you smoke, smoke outside.
  • Wherever you smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays.
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used.
  • Keep matches and lighters high in a locked cabinet out of the reach of children.

Candle with caution

  • Keep candles at least 12 inches form anything that can burn.
  • Use sturdy, safe candleholders.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Blow out candles when you leave a room.
  • Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  • Use flashlights for emergency lighting.

Safety 101

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Make sure everyone can hear the sound of the smoke alarms.
  • Have a home fire escape plan. Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible, and a meeting place outside. Practice your escape plan twice a year.
  • When the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out.
  • If you are building or remodeling your home, consider a residential fire sprinkler system.

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