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Annual Fire Safety Policies and Report

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Annual Fire Safety Policies and Report 2023



Fire safety is an essential tool in protecting a campus community from injuries, deaths, business interruption, and property damage resulting from fires and related perils. Fire safety includes education, training, and policies designed to ensure all students, staff and faculty of these institutions are aware of and understand the elements that help to ensure the safety of all. In an effort to standardize the information that an institution publishes in regards to their own fire safety, the Department of Education developed a law called Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA). The Higher Education Opportunity Act became law in August 2008, requiring all United States Academic Institutions to produce an annual Fire Safety Report outlining fire safety practices, standards, and all fire related on-campus statistics. Starting October 2010, the report must be publicly disclosed. The following public disclosure report details all information required by this law as it relates to Western Colorado University.

Western utilizes the Johnson Controls fire detection and fire alarm system. Johnson Controls provides an intelligent interface between Western fire detection and alarm panels, with direct notification to the Gunnison Fire Department and Gunnison Police Department. The Mears Complex (Mears, Moffat, and Robidoux), Escalante Complex (Colorado, Crystal, Dolores, and Tomichi), The Pinnacles and Chipeta Hall are all equipped with fire sprinkler and suppression systems. These buildings also have fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit signs and exit doors. Prior to the beginning of fall semester classes, all fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems located in the on-campus housing facilities are tested and serviced.

Fire drills and/or training sessions are held once a semester for each student residence hall and campus apartment. Fire drills are mandatory supervised evacuations of a building in the event of a fire. The fire drill is scheduled with Campus Security, the Residence Life staff and Gunnison Fire Marshall.  Everyone in the building must participate in the fire drill to the greatest extent possible.

All residence life staff receives fire safety training prior to the beginning of the school year. In turn, the staff provides basic fire safety instructions to all students living in residence halls and campus apartments at the beginning of the school year.

The presence of candles, propane, oil burning lamps, incense, petruli oil or any other free burning agent is prohibited in student rooms, the residence halls, and student apartment complexes. Small, contained, camping cylinders are allowed to be stored (not used) in residence halls/apartments upon approval and inspection by the residence life staff.

Students are strongly encouraged to utilize power strips instead of extension cords. Electrical outlets must not be overloaded.

For health and safety reasons residents may not cook in their rooms, except in the apartments where kitchen facilities are available. Students are responsible for safe meal preparation to ensure that cooking fires do not jeopardize the welfare of the community. Hot surface and/or coil resistant appliances such as electric frying pans, broilers, ovens and hot plates, coffee makers, or anything that may create a safety hazard are not allowed. The only exceptions to this are the use of Keurig coffee makers, Foreman grills and microwave ovens. In addition, refrigerators larger than 4.5 cubic feet are prohibited.

Residence Life staff conduct periodic “Health and Safety” inspections and will address issues regarding the care of rooms and/or issues with fire safety.

Tampering with or misusing fire and safety equipment, such as fire alarms, fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and exit signs, or creating a false alarm pose a serious threat to life and property. The University reserves the right to take disciplinary action through the appropriate University channels and/or local law enforcement agencies.

Fire Safety Policies

The following policies exist for safety purposes. Violations of these policies may include disciplinary action, which could result in fines, probation or suspension.

  • Never tamper with smoke detector. If there is a question about whether or not a detector is working properly immediately consult a residence life staff member or Campus Security Services. If a smoke detector starts beeping occasionally, and there is not heat or smoke source, it probably needs a new battery.  Contact the Resident Director (RD) or Resident Assistant (RA). After hours contact Campus Security Services. NEVER REMOVE A SMOKE DETECTOR!
  • Door closer mechanisms must remain on doors at all times.
  • Do not abuse fire safety equipment. Report all non-functioning equipment to the residence life staff.
  • Keep hallways free of debris and personal items.
  • Do not hang anything on the ceiling or drape materials that can cover or block lights, or smoke detectors or sprinklers.
  • Do not stack belongings or furniture where it can block the flow from a sprinkler.
  • Do not store items where they may be blocking a fire exit route. This includes windows, window sills, and hallways.
  • Do not tamper with or spray fire extinguishers. This will cause the release of a chemical that can set off the building fire alarm.
  • Do not burn any flammable items.
  • Do not use or store flammable substances, such as gasoline, propane, sterno, and cleaning fluids on or near residential life areas.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets. The University recommends only one appliance per outlet.
  • Do not splice electrical wires or remove any outlet plates or light switches.
  • Fire exit doors must remain closed when they are not being used as an exit in an emergency. Residents are responsible for keeping door closed and unpropped.
  • Do not place microfridges or refrigerators in closets. Allow for proper air circulation behind the unit.
  • Do not leave electrical appliances unattended when turned on.
  • Extension cords or decorative lights may not be routed under rugs or carpets, through doorways, or in any manner that could present a fall or trip hazard or impede egress.
  • Dispose of trash as quickly as possible.
  • Flammable decorations, such as live or excessive greenery, excessive amounts of paper, and large paper decorations are prohibited.
  • Keep all items at least three feet away from heating units.

Every student residential building is connected directly to the Johnson Controls Monitoring System. If a fire alarm occurs, the Gunnison Fire Department, Gunnison Police Department, and Campus Security Services will respond to the affected building. Students in these buildings should follow the same evacuation procedures when smoke detectors activate; however they should also call Campus Security Services immediately from the outside of the buildings. If an actual fire is observed, call 911 first and then Campus Security Services, 970.209.1020 or 970.901.9857 (24-hour on call number). One should utilize the designated fire escapes and/or all recommended emergency procedures when the fire alarm sounds.

When a fire or other evacuation alarm sounds, every person is asked to follow these procedures:

  • Take your keys and Western ID with you.
  • Carefully and calmly exit via the closet fire exit route. DO NOT USE THE ELEVATORS.
  • Check each door for heat or hazard prior to opening. If your door feels hot or the exit path is hazardous, remain in the building.
  • If there is a designated fire exit through your window, use it.
  • Leave room door closed.
  • Stay low to the floor and cover your mouth with a wet cloth to make breathing easier in smoky conditions.
  • If you notice that individuals cannot negotiate the exit, move them laterally away from any obvious danger to a safe place. Person with disabilities, such as those who cannot walk or be assisted down the stairs, may elect to remain in the building until emergency personnel arrive.
  • Report the status and location of anyone remaining in the building to campus responders (Campus Security Services) and public officials (Police, Fire).  Repeat this message often.
  • Stay together at a safe distance (50 to 100 yards, upwind) from the building until or evacuate to the designated campus location until Campus Security Services allows you to return to the building.

In The Event of a Fire

  • Alert others in the immediate area and activate the nearest fire alarm on your way out.
  • Call 911. Then call Campus Security, 970.209.1020 or 970.901.9857 (24-hour on call number).
  • Do not fight a fire if you have not been trained or are unsure about what type of fire extinguisher to use. Most portable extinguishers are appropriate for only small contained fires, such as a fire in a wastebasket.
  • Remember to never fight a spreading or growing fire and never block your escape.
  • Close doors to help prevent the fire from spreading.
  • Advise emergency personnel the size and location of the fire.
  • Do not re-enter the building that is on fire.
  • Advise emergency personnel if you know that someone is in the building.
  • Stay calm and take steps to protect yourself.
  • Close the room door(s).
  • Put cloth at the bottom of the door(s).
  • Call 911 and stay on the line and indicate your location.
  • If possible, move to a room with an outside window.
  • Stay where rescuers can see you through the window and wave a light or light-colored item to attract their attention.
  • If possible open the window at the top and bottom. Be ready to shut the window quickly if smoke rushes in.
  • Be patient. The rescue of occupants of large structures could take time.
  • Never put yourself in danger. If a doorknob is warm, there is smoke in the hallway, or you feel you may get trapped, evacuate the building immediately.  Your safety is most important.
  • If flames or smoke are present, call 911 immediately.
  • The Gunnison Fire Department will assume all evacuation procedures. Upon hearing the fire alarm, stop what you are doing and exit the building.
  • Students need to be at least 100 feet away from the building during a fire alarm. The RD, Campus Security Services, and other RAs will help in moving students away from the building.
  • In cold weather, Campus Security Services will allow students to evacuate to designated buildings.
  • Chipeta Hall: Students living in Chipeta Hall will evacuate to the Mears Complex.
  • Escalante Complex: Students living in the Escalante Complex (Colorado, Dolores, Crystal, and Tomichi Halls) will evacuate to the University Center.
  • Mears Complex: Students living in Mears Hall, Moffat Hall, or Robidoux Hall will evacuate to the University Center.
  • The Pinnacles: Students living in The Pinnacles will evacuate to the University Center.
  • Ute Hall: Students living in Ute Hall will evacuate to the Mears Complex.

Note: Any fires that were quickly extinguished or any evidence of recent fires must be reported immediately to Campus Security Services who will document the incident as required.

Titles of each person to which individuals should report that a fire has occurred:

  • President
  • Provost
  • Vice President for Marketing & Enrollment
  • Dean of Students
  • Director of Campus Security Services
  • Director of Residence Life
  • Fire Marshall, City of Gunnison
  • Chief of Police, Gunnison Police Department

There are ongoing fire safety education and training programs available for Western students, faculty, and staff. Specifically, the residence life staff is required to participate in an intensive fire safety education and program on an annual basis. Residence Life staff conduct periodic “Health and Safety” inspections in all residential areas and address issues regarding fire safety. Also, the Gunnison Fire Department tours facilities and conducts on-campus training sessions on a periodic basis.

Western annually reviews the fire systems in the residence halls and academic buildings and will make upgrades, repairs or revisions when problems are identified. Additionally, there are in-service trainings throughout the academic year for the Residence Life staff to ensure the ongoing education and awareness of proper fire safety protocol.

The fire log holds a record of all reportable fires in on-campus student housing facilities at Western. The log is available for inspection by the public for the most recent sixty (60) day period and is located in the office of Campus Security Services. Any portion of the log older than sixty (60) days will be made available within two (2) business days of a request for inspection.

Elements included in the fire log are:

  • Any fire that occurred in an on-campus student housing facility
  • Date of each fire
  • Time of each fire
  • Nature of each fire
  • General location of each fire

Name of Facility




Chipeta Hall




Colorado Hall




Crystal Hall




Dolores Hall




Mears Hall




Moffat Hall




Robidoux Hall




Tomichi Hall




The Pinnacles 0 0 0
Ute Hall 0 0 0

Annual Security and Fire Safety Report (ASFSR)

In support of and pursuant to the Clery Act, the University publishes an Annual Crime Report that is available October 1 of each calendar year. These crime statistics are gathered by the Gunnison Police Department, Western Campus Security Services, Western Office of Residence Life, and Western Office of Student Affairs. This report is distributed to current students and employees by a direct email message stating where the report is posted on the University’s website:  Annual Security and Fire Safety Report (ASFSR) 2022.

Individuals may also request a paper copy of this report.

To access the annual security policies and report, please go to: Annual Security Policies and Report

If you have any further questions regarding any of these reports, please call or write the Office of Student Affairs, Taylor Hall 301, Western Colorado University, Gunnison, CO 81231, 970.943.2232.

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