The Tufts Fire Safety Office staff conducts fire prevention inspections in the academic and administrative buildings on a regular schedule throughout the calendar year. The inspectors check the common areas, stairways, utility rooms, storage rooms and the exterior of the building for issues that could threaten the life safety of the occupants.
Some of the life safety issues that the inspectors repeatedly encounter are:
- Improper storage in electrical and sprinkler rooms, such as ordinary combustibles piled under or around the electrical panels and sprinkler system.
- Items permanently placed in corridors and hallways, such as equipment, cabinets, desks, tables, chairs and rubbish. The corridors, hallways and stairs are your egress pathway out of the building during emergency evacuation. The State Building Code requires a corridor width of 44” of clear and unobstructed space.
- Storage placed too close to fire sprinkler heads. The State Fire Prevention Regulations require an 18” distance from the head to the closest item. When items are stored within this 18” space, the item creates an obstruction to the water discharge pattern flowing from the sprinkler head. This inhibits the effectiveness of the fire suppression system and allows the fire to grow and spread. Statistics indicate that 97% of fires in sprinklered buildings are controlled by one or two sprinkler heads.
- Fire doors being propped or wedged open. Fire doors are fundamental to the integrity of fire barriers because any time there is an open doorway to a compartment, a fire barrier is temporarily broken. The doors are your safety barrier to the smoke, heat and toxic gases from a fire. Doors that are designed to be fire exit doors can be held open, but only if they automatically release when the building fire alarms are activated.
- Improper storage of flammable fluids and liquids. Flammable fluid storage is limited to quantity, classification and flammability rating. Special permits and flame resistant metal cabinets are required to safely store all flammables.
- Electrical extension cords being used as permanent wiring. Electrical extension cords are strictly prohibited from use inside University buildings as permanent wiring. Should there be a need to use an electrical extension cord for permanent use, you must contact Facilities to have the area of use inspected to determine if additional electrical wall receptacles can be installed to accommodate your needs. For temporary use, the extension should be of the heavy duty, three wire type with ground plug. It should not be in excess of 6-8 feet in length. Do not run the cord under rugs or pile clothes on top of the cord. Overloading of an electrical wall receptacle may cause a fire or short circuit.
- Non-compliant upholstered furniture. The University is required to comply with the furniture fire code standards of the local city and the Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code – 527 CMR 1, with regard to the purchase of upholstered furniture used inside any University building. Furniture purchased for, donated to, or located within any University building must comply with the applicable section of the Code and university policy.
The Tufts Fire Marshal’s office is staffed week days by current or retired career fire fighters who have many years of combined fire service experience. In addition to the Fire Marshals, the office employs Student Fire Safety Inspectors. When violations are found, the inspector documents the violation and contacts the person responsible for corrective action and if necessary a work order is submitted to Facilities. A follow-up inspection is conducted to ensure that the violations have been rectified. Any serious, potential life threatening issues are addressed and corrected immediately. The local fire departments also conduct fire prevention inspections as part of their duties.