Fire Safety Tips

On-Campus Living and Working

Know the following:

  • Who to contact - If the event of a fire, immediately contact DPS at 202-651-5555 (Video/Videophone), 202-651-5444 (TTY), use the DPS email address (, or dial 911 and report the incident.
  • Closest emergency exit- Count the number of doors on your floor to the closest emergency exit. If you were crawling on the ground how many doors until you get to the exit door. Know alternate exit routes just in case one is blocked. The reality is you will not be able to stand up in the event of a fire.
  • Smoke alarm- Look around your room or office to learn where your smoke alarm and fire alarm light is located.
  • No Smoking- that includes trying to sneak one by a window, in your room or office. Fires from smoking related products are a cause of many fires.
  • Reduce the number of posters and papers on your wall, items such as this allow vertical fires to spread rapidly.
  • Minimize extension cords, if they are allowed, and use power strips and extension cords with UL approval only. No hiding extension cords under rugs.
  • Practice fire drills, yes they do interrupt your sleep or work but they may save your life in the event of an emergency.
  • Fire extinguishers- know where the fire extinguishers are located on your floor, wing, or office. Do not use these safety tools as toys.

Off-Campus Living

According to the District of Columbia Fire Prevention Division (Informational Bulletin, 2008-3) apartments and houses all must comply with applicable fire codes. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is responsible for the issuance of a business license and occupancy permit for rental housing. Make sure your residence is a licensed dwelling. A licensed dwelling is inspected to insure compliance with codes.

Know the following:

  • Who to contact - If the event of a fire, immediately dial 911 and report the fire incident.
  • Smoke Alarms - Make sure there are working smoke alarms in all sleeping areas and hallways, stairwells etc.
  •  Test the alarm to make sure it is working. If the dwelling does not have a smoke alarm, contact the Office of the Fire Marshal at (202) 727-1600 to report no smoke alarm or any fire code violation.
  • Flashing Smoke Alarms for D.C. Residents – DCFEMS will provide free flashing smoke detectors for the homes of city residents. Contact the following DCFEMS Public Information Officers: William Wright,, Deangela Magruder,, or Oscar Mendez,
  • Know two ways out of every room. Make sure all windows will open. If bars are installed on the windows they must be releasable or removable from the inside without the use of a key, tool or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the window.
  • Have and practice an escape plan make sure all occupants understand. Have a common meeting point outside the dwelling. Don’t reenter the building once you have left.
  • If the dwelling utilizes fossil burning fuels a carbon monoxide should be installed to detect any carbon monoxide leaks.
  • Keep candles away from flammable items and never leave one burning unattended.
  • Don’t overload extension cords, only used UL approved extension cords and power strips. Don’t daisy chain multiple power strips.
  • Keep a UL-listed multipurpose fire extinguisher in the home, if an apartment an extinguisher should be mounted in a cabinet or mounted on the wall in the hallway. Make sure extinguisher is in date and fully charged.
  • If you use a space heater make sure it is UL approved and is not operating too close to combustible items including bedding and clothing. Kerosene heaters are illegal to use in the District of Columbia.
  • If you do smoke make sure all cigarettes are placed into ashtrays. Before dumping ashtrays, pour small amount of water to cover all smoking materials.
  • If your dwelling has a fireplace make sure all ashes are cleaned and place in approved containers. Never put ashes in paper bags or dispose of close to dwellings.

Additional Fire Safety Resources

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