Fire Safety & Prevention

Wilkes University is committed to the health and safety of the entire college community and to insuring that everyone has a safe place to live, learn and work. In terms of fire safety, the primary goal is Fire Prevention. Personal awareness, prevention of fires and correct action in fire emergencies are all of crucial importance. The information provided here will help you to recognize hazards that could result in a fire and enable you to respond properly in the event of an actual fire.

The Alarming Truth

The Alarming Truth is a short film produced as part of a national campaign to raise awareness about fire safety among college students.

This project was funded under a Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and consists of a short video and additional educational materials. The Alarming Truth was written and produced by Rowan University students and will offer a fresh take on fire safety that is relevant to college students and easy to view and share.

All University buildings are equipped with local "in-house" fire alarm systems. The alarms sound inside the building and at the Public Safety Office. The Public Safety Office will then notify Wilkes-Barre Fire Department of the alarm.

All residence halls have been upgraded and currently maintain full sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems.

Tampering with fire extinguishers and other fire equipment or the sounding of false alarms is a serious threat to the safety of all and is strictly prohibited. Violations of this policy will result in serious disciplinary action by the University.

If You Discover Fire or Smoke, Remember: R.A.C.E.

  • Rescue: Remove anyone from immediate danger.
  • Alarm: Activate the nearest fire alarm pull station.
  • Contain: Close all doors to confine smoke and fire.
  • Extinguish/Evacuate: If the fire is small and you have been trained in fire extinguisher use, you can attempt to extinguish a fire. Otherwise, follow your Evacuation Plan and proceed to the nearest exit and designated area outside the building.

If you catch on fire, do not run!

  • Stop where you are, and
  • Drop to the ground, and
  • Roll over and over to smother flames.

Response to Fire Alarms or Explosion

  • Remain calm, evacuate and stay with your class or office group.
  • Remember to take your class roster with you to the designated area.
  • Once you have reached the designated area, report any missing person(s) to Wilkes Public Safety.
  • Only return to the building when directed by the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department or Wilkes Public Safety.
  • If a fire is in a laboratory facility, Wilkes Public Safety should contact the Provost who would require the presence of department chairs or their designees for the relevant programs. Chemicals and biologicals stored in the facility should be designated and appropriate signage should indicate what is stored in these rooms.

Evacuation Map

Know Your Evacuation Zones!

Evacuation Map (.pdf)

Evacuation Reminders

  • If leaving a room, feel the door with the back of your hand before opening it. Do not open any door that feels hot.
  • Do not return to your area for personal belongings.
  • If smoke is present, stay low. The best quality air is near the floor.
  • Use stairway or horizontal exit to evacuate.
  • Do not use the elevators!
  • Consider individuals with disabilities that may need assistance evacuating. Notify Wilkes Public Safety of missing persons and where they were last seen.
  • Individuals with disabilities should exit to the next building or outside by horizontal exit (when available) or otherwise to an enclosed stairway landing (considered an area of rescue).
  • Never allow the fire to come between you and the exit.
  • Wilkes Public Safety continuously monitors all fire alarm signals and will respond promptly.

If Caught in Smoke

  • Drop to hands and knees and crawl toward exit.
  • Stay low to the floor, as smoke rises to the ceiling level.
  • Hold your breath as much as possible.
  • Breathe shallow through your nose and use a filter such as your shirt or towel.

Mandatory fire safety education and suppression device training is held at the beginning of each academic year for all individuals involved with on-campus student housing, Public Safety, and Facilities. This training is also optionally available to all other staff and faculty of Wilkes University. In addition, all students living in on-campus student housing receive fire alarm education at the beginning of the school year during residence hall meetings. These residence hall meetings provide information on evacuation routes, outside rally points, and fire alarm equipment locations. Both educational training programs are designed to familiarize participants with fire safety systems, equipment, and University fire alarm procedures. Additional fire education training is available through the Public Safety Office upon request.

Remove Prohibited Items from Your Apartment

Items listed below have resulted in safety hazards, fire or life-threatening situations at college campuses around the world. Consequently, possession of any of these items in any apartment is considered a serious breach of the Housing Contract:

  • Candles, incense, or other open-flame devices
  • Electric blankets
  • Firearms and other weapons, chemicals, fireworks and explosives
  • Refrigerators over five (5) cubic feet in capacity
  • Halogen lamp
  • Flammable liquids
  • Resistance coil appliances (i.e. hot plates)
  • Toaster ovens or electric skillets 15.
  • Hookah pipes and other smoking apparatuses
  • Air Conditioning units
  • Kerosene heaters


All University buildings are smoke-free. No smoking is permitted in student bedrooms, lounges, kitchens, balconies, etc. Students may only smoke outside of the building, at least six feet away from the entrance or exit.

Heating & Cooking

  • Cook only where it's permitted.
  • Never leave the apartment when food is cooking on the stove or in the oven.
  • Protect eyes from spattering grease when cooking. The likelihood of this injury increases as the stove heat is increased.
  • Avoid wearing loose-sleeved clothing when cooking or working around an open flame.
  • Never use aluminum foil to line stoves, burners, cupboards, or walls. Trapped grease can cause a fire. It is also a potential breeding ground for pests.

Follow Electrical Safety Guidelines

  • All electrical devices or power equipment, such as appliances, cords and power strips, must be UL-certified and installed according to manufacturer's specifications and all other applicable codes.
  • For the protection of personal property from damage caused by fluctuation in the flow of electricity, it is strongly recommended that power strips also have a surge protection device.
  • Do not overload outlets or power strips. If a wall socket or extension cord is warm to the touch, it is overloaded.
  • Do not alter the prongs of polarized plugs to make them fit an outlet.
  • Do not "daisy chain" cords, plugs or connections together.
  • Do not run electrical cords under rugs or furniture where they may be pinched or stepped on. Heat can build up and start a fire. In addition, cords can be frayed and expose wires, which can also result in a fire.
  • Never cover lamps with clothing, paper, drapes or other things that can burn.

Additional Fire Safety Tips

  • Do not attach anything to or hang anything from plumbing, fixtures, air ducts, or electrical lines.
  • Do not leave candles or other open flames unattended.
  • Learn the building's evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing. Always know two escape paths from your Hall in the event that one is blocked.
  • During a power outage, use a flashlight not candles.

Room Entrance & Inspections

While the University respects a student's right to privacy, the University also reserves the right to inspect rooms at any time, especially for reasons of maintenance, health, and safety. While the RA does not have direct permission to search a student's room, the Vice President of Student Affairs can authorize searches as needed or deemed appropriate. Public Safety and Residence Life have master keys and are permitted to key in to rooms if a situation arises.

College students living away from home should take a few minutes to make sure they are living in a fire-safe environment. Educating students on what they can do to stay safe during the school year is important and often overlooked. Never be afraid to ask the landlord (.pdf).

  • Look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing off-campus housing.
  • Make sure your apartment has smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on each level. For the best protection, all smoke alarms should be interconnected so that when one sounds they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least monthly.
  • Never remove batteries or disable the alarm.
  • Learn your building's evacuation routes and have practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
  • Have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
  • When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out of the building quickly and stay out.
  • During a power outage, use a flashlight...not candles.
  • Cook only where it is permitted.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
  • Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or alcohol.
  • Check with your local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbecue grill, fire pit, or Chimenea.
  • Use a surge protector for your computer and plug the protector directly into an outlet.

This pamphlet provides important information for parents and students to consider when looking for on- or off-campus student housing. Source: Campus Firewatch

Questions for everyone to ask (.pdf)

The Department of Public Safety maintains a combined Daily Crime and Fire Log of all incidents reported. This includes all crimes, fire-related incidents (including fire alarms), and other serious incidents that occur on Wilkes University campus, and also including areas jointly patrolled by Wilkes Public Safety and the Wilkes-Barre Police Department, non-campus buildings, and public property immediately adjacent to campus property.

The Daily Crime and Fire Log includes the incident type, the date incident is reported, date and time of occurrence, general location of the incident, and the incident disposition. The Department of Public Safety posts specific incidents in the Daily Crime and Fire Log within two (2) business days of receiving an incident report, and reserves the right to exclude from the Log, as permitted by law, in certain circumstances.

The most current 60 days of information is available for public inspection at the Public Safety Office, 148 South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre (570) 408-4999.