Fire Safety


Rules and Prohibited Items

Fire extinguishers, heat and smoke detectors, pull stations, sprinkler heads and pipe, automatic door closers, evacuation signs, exit signs, smoke free building signs and emergency lights are all considered “life safety devices”. Tampering with, vandalizing, or misuse of any of these devices is a chargeable Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia (punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2500 fine) and is considered a serious life safety offense by the College. This includes intentionally setting off a fire alarm (activating a pull station) when there is no fire, covering a smoke detector or sprinkler head, falsely reporting a fire, the setting of a fire, failure to evacuate during a fire alarm activation or entering a building during a fire alarm activation. The lighting of fireworks is considered hazardous and is strictly prohibited.

Violation of any of these rules may result in a fine assessed by the Fire Safety Department or immediate eviction from the residence hall for a period to be determined by the Dean of Students and the Chairman of the Student Court and the possibility of other serious disciplinary action.

  1. There shall be no storage of any personal belongings (including bicycles), sports equipment or furniture in hallways, stairwells or landings, entrances, exits, and vestibules of any residence hall, cottage, or fraternity house (student living areas).
  2. Emergency exit paths (egress) in the bedrooms, halls and entrances shall be maintained equal to the width of the door.
  3. No items shall be hung from the ceiling or from sprinkler heads or sprinkler pipes.
  4. No combustible material may be hung in windows or on doors. Approved flame-retardant curtains may be used (tag needs to say it meets NFPA-701 Small Scale); contact the Fire Safety department for approved vendors.
  5. Absolutely nothing shall be hung from or attached to the ceiling.
  6. Curtains and drapes shall be either non-combustible or flame resistant and be labeled as such.
  7. Each student may hang one exposed 2' x 3' paper poster on the wall of their bedroom. All other flammable decorations in student living areas, (i.e., posters, flags, banners, Fatheads, etc.) must be behind glass or Plexiglas, in a manner that no part of the item is exposed to open flame. There is no restriction on metal signs.
  8. There shall be no lumber, trash, combustible materials, flammable liquids, gasoline powered items, kerosene heaters or lamps stored or used in student living areas.
  9. There shall be only two items plugged directly into each wall outlet.
  10. Surge protector/power strip shall be only the Fire Shield brand and shall be plugged directly into a wall outlet and not into another surge protector. Fire Shield products are available in Hampden-Sydney College Bookstore, Farmville Wal-Mart and other outlets.
  11. Extension cords, including Fire Shield brand, shall not be used in any student living area.
  12. Multi-tap adapters and cube adapters are not permitted in any student living area.
  13. Fresh cut trees or greenery are not permitted in student living areas, i.e. Christmas trees or bamboo. Artificial trees and greenery are permitted.
  14. Life Safety devices shall not be unplugged or tampered with or obstructed in any way. These include smoke detectors, heat detectors, sprinkler systems, pull stations, exit and emergency lights, fire extinguishers and evacuation plans, which are found in both rooms and hallways of residences. They are for the safety of those within that room or building.
  15. Incense is prohibited in any student living areas.
  16. Candles with flames are prohibited in student living areas; battery-powered flameless candles are permitted.
  17. Open flames from any source are prohibited inside student living areas.
  18. Storage of goods or placement of furniture shall be at least 24 inches below the ceilings.
  19. Halogen lamps are not permitted on campus.
  20. Chocking or propping of stairwell doors in the open position is prohibited. Doors to student rooms may be chocked or propped open if the room is occupied; doors must be closed when no one is in the room.
  21. Charcoal grills shall not be used or stored within 10 feet of any building.
  22. Propane grills are strictly prohibited.
  23. Smoking is prohibited in student living areas.
  24. Bunks, lofts and beds shall not be draped or enclosed.
  25. Please see Section 3 on Appliances for cooking equipment not allowed.
  26. No College furniture is to be removed from any student living area. No lofts are permitted other than the College dorm furniture that is specifically designed to be lofted.

Fines and Inspections

Fire safety violations generally carry a fine as well as any repair costs. The fines associated with fire safety violations is currently $100 per violation with a cap set at $500 per incident. Please note the following exception:

Smoking in student residences, burning candles, covering a smoke detector or sprinkler head, tampering with fire safety equipment, failure to evacuate any time there is a fire alarm activation or entering a building during a fire alarm activation will result in an immediate fine in the amount of $250.00, (class 1 violation).

These fines are minimal and can be increased by the Chairman of the Student Court and the Dean of Students at any time based upon the special circumstances surrounding a particular event.

Authorized College personnel have the right to conduct room inspections to ascertain safety conditions and room damages at any time. Fire safety inspections occur on a continuous basis. Some are scheduled; others may occur as part of daily routine tasks, possibly in conjunction with test or repairs to the fire protection systems. Fire safety violations will be addressed at the time they are observed in an effort to maintain the highest level of safety and protection from fire for our students. Room inspections are also conducted as part of the annual safety inspection of student living areas by the Virginia State Fire Marshal.

Fire Safety Violation Appeals

Appeals must be filed within 60 days of the date of the fire safety violation notice (email); you should pick up and fill out an appeal form in the Business Office. Your completed appeal form will be submitted by the Business Office to the Fire Safety Violation Appeals Committee, which reviews appeals and will notify you of its decision. No appeals will be accepted after April 30.

If the appeal is accepted by the Committee, the fine will be canceled. Otherwise, you must then immediately pay the fine in the Business Office to avoid further disciplinary action for non- payment of the fine.

Fire Safety and Fire Drills

The College places a high priority on residence hall, apartment, cottage, and fraternity house safety. Twice each semester fire drills are held and everyone is expected to cooperate with the RAs and house managers who act as fire marshals. As described above, serious penalties are assessed against those violating fire and safety regulations or who in any way create a danger for others. Violations include failure to leave a building when a fire alarm is sounding, entering a building while the fire alarm is sounding or failure to cooperate with officials during a fire or fire drill. Resident advisors are to establish a meeting place for their residents at least fifty feet from the building and determine who is not present. If it is suspected that a student may be inside the building, this information shall be immediately shared with fire and rescue personnel.

As a resident of a residence hall, cottage, or fraternity house at Hampden-Sydney College, you have a responsibility to acquaint yourself with the following fire and fire drill procedures. Become familiar with all routes of escape available to you from your room. Always know two ways out! Most buildings are equipped with an evacuation plan. Become familiar with it. Should a fire occur, it will be too late to search for an exit.

If you detect a fire in your residence hall, evacuate the building, call 911 immediately and call your RA. If you hear an alarm sound you should:

  • Feel the door with the back of your hand. If your door is very hot, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR. In this event, open your window and sit on the sill. Wait for help. If the door is cool to touch, open it and leave the building. Close the door behind you.
  • Use primary fire exits (stairs and main doors) whenever possible.
  • If your primary means of exit is blocked, use the secondary exit. Your RA will inform you of the primary and secondary exit routes for your part of the residence hall; you can also consult the evacuation plan mounted in your hall.
  • Close your door when evacuating the building. This procedure can prevent the needless spread of fire within the building.
  • Do not panic. Leave the building as quickly as possible, but without bolting or becoming a part of the problem.
  • Do not linger. Never remain inside a building after a fire alarm has sounded. Treat all drills as fires. You will not likely be able to distinguish a drill from the real thing until it is too late! Again, get at least fifty feet from the building at the location designated by your RA and cooperate with firefighters and check in with your RA (when possible).
  • Do not return to the building until told to do so by a fire official or someone in charge.
  • Always report to your RA or house manager all dangerous and suspicious behavior that might contribute to a fire problem in your residence hall.