Fire prevention: Four focus areas to help reduce risk and increase safety at UTSA

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(April 5, 2011)--Fire does not occur often at UTSA, but everyone should be ready to react in an emergency. Safety experts have developed fire prevention and response procedures focusing on four major areas in order to reduce risk to building occupants:

  • Means of egress -- When a fire or other emergency occurs, occupants must have the chance to leave. Every step of the way, there must be a clear path to move from anywhere in a building to the sidewalk.
  • Electrical distribution -- Electrical supply directly from the wall to an appliance is generally safe. It is permissible to use an extension cord, but it must be unplugged from both ends and coiled for storage at the end of each day. Connecting plug strips and extension cords in any combination creates a fire risk.
  • Electrical use -- Even if a power supply is safe, electrical devices can be dangerous. Generally, UTSA building occupants may use only UL-listed electrical devices in the manner intended by the manufacturer.
  • Storage -- Collecting large quantities of any kind of paper, cardboard, wood dust or solvents creates a fire risk. Storage of such items that blocks extinguishers, alarm devices and sprinklers compromises these systems’ ability to protect.

UTSA Facilities and Environmental Health, Safety, and Risk Management staff members work to ensure that building systems -- including fire alarms, sprinklers and extinguishers, smoke separation doors, smoke control systems, emergency lighting and exit signs -- are in place and functioning.

As a state agency, UTSA works closely with the State Fire Marshal's Office to make sure buildings and systems are compliant with state standards. Periodically, fire marshal’s office representatives visit UTSA to evaluate compliance.

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Fire safety

  • When an alarm sounds, get outside immediately. Have an exit strategy. Heat in structure fires builds rapidly. The longer it takes to evacuate, the greater the risk that occupants will become victims.
  • The effects of heat and asphyxia on occupants in a building climbs rapidly within only nine minutes.
  • Heat generation in a structure fire hits its peak within 10 minutes after fire ignition and doesn’t drop off significantly until after 18 minutes.
  • To help promote and sustain preparedness, consider volunteering for the UTSA Police Department Floor Captain Safety Liaison program, operated by the UTSA Office of Business Continuity and Emergency Management.

>> Read more in the UTSA Fire Safety Manual.

>> For more information on fire safety and safety training classes, visit the UTSA Fire and Life Safety website, email fire@utsa.edu or call 210-458-5809.