Fire Safety at Rhodes University
Staff on Makana Fire Dept fire fighting course
In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (1993), all workplaces must observe and carry out certain fire precaution measures. All staff and students should take full precautions to avoid potential fire hazards.
Read the guidelines: RU Health & Safety Guide 7 Fire Safety
What to do in case of a fire emergency on campus
Raise the alarm & immediately call CPU EMERGENCY NUMBER 046-603.8999 - no matter how small the fire.
In residences, inform the Warden or any other authorised person on duty as soon as possible.
Follow the building evacuation procedure (see below) and try check that everyone is out the building.
Only attempt to extinguish the fire if you can do so without endangering yourself.
Managers or heads of department (or their designees) are responsible for ensuring the following in their areas:
Information and Training
List of Emergency numbers: a list for your noticeboard - Emergency Numbers
Fire safety talks: contact Campus Protection Unit, 046-603.8146/7 or cpu(at)ru.ac.za
Fire drills: All University staff and students should attend fire drills organised by their section / department / division. These should be organised annually or quarterly (as is the case for most residences).
Elementary fire fighting course: Some staff may choose to participate in the 2-day course run by the Makana Fire Dept. Contact Ms Nikki Kohly on 046-603.7205 / safety(at)ru.ac.za or visit the link Fire Safety Training.
Fire Fighting Equipment
Rhodes University has approximately 450 fire hose reels and 1500 hand-held fire extinguishers on campus. Annual servicing of fire fighting equipment, purchasing of new equipment, and installation of fire escapes is organised through Engineering, RU ext 8238 / 8236 or email d.martin(at)ru.ac.za
From time to time, you may wish to check your handheld fire extinguishers as follows: (i) read the gauge (and note its position), (ii) check the tag to see when it was last inspected, (iii) check its hose (for obstructions etc), (iv) check that it is properly mounted, (v) remove the fire extinguisher from its mount and invert 5 times, (vi) re-check the gauge (if the position has moved at all from the first check, this indicates that it may need replacing) - contact Engineering, RU ext 8238 / 8236 or email d.martin(at)ru.ac.za
Fighting fire with dry powder (hand-held extinguisher)
Any building with three (3) or more floors should install a fire alarm. This may take the form of:
Manual evacuation alarm: a noise-making device which is set off manually by a person. This may be a whistle bought from a sports shop (least costly option), or a break-glass box system.
Automatic fire detection alarm: a fire alarm system with smoke detector - a more sophisticated (and costly) device which sets off automatically in response to smoke. At RU, these have a direct radio link to the Campus Protection Unit. Signal tests are NOT carried out automatically - please contact the CPU on x 8146 / 7 to arrange for a signal test session - for example, before you hold a fire drill in your building.
Installations: organised through the Electrical section, RU ext 8033 / 8034 or speed dial 5079 or w.bufe(at)ru.ac.za
Emergency Evacuation Procedures
All buildings should have an evacuation procedure that is specific to the building.
Example building floor plan for evacuation
Use this template: Emergency Evacuation Procedures GENERIC
Floor plan: a simple diagram of the building floor plan (see examples). Draw your own or if your building is fairly new, the Facilities Management Draughtsperson may be able to email you a pdf.
External fire escapes (stairs or ladders) may be required in some cases (large buildings with only 1 internal stairwell). This should be organised through Engineering, RU ext 8238 / 8236 or email d.martin(at)ru.ac.za
Example building floor plan for evacuation
Fire Safety Assessment
To assess if your building requires an external fire escape, or if it has sufficient fire safety equipment, or any related maintenance concerns, contact:
Engineering, RU ext 8238 / 8236 or email d.martin(at)ru.ac.za - will liaise with Makana Fire & Rescue Services.
SHE Officer, RU ext 7205 or email safety(at)ru.ac.za - will liaise with Makana Fire & Rescue Services.
More info: RU Safety, Health & Environmental Officer: 046-603.7205 or safety(at)ru.ac.za
Questions and answers: visit the Labour Guide Forum
An extract from the Occupational Health and Safety Act (1993), Environmental Regulations for Workplaces (1987) - retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://www.acts.co.za/ohs/index.htm:
Section 9. Fire precautions and means of egress
1. In order to expedite the evacuation of a workplace in case of fire, every employer shall ensure that -
a. any emergency escape door from any room or passage or at a staircase shall, as far as is practicable, be hung so as to open outwards;
b. every door of a room in which persons may be present, and every door of a passage or at a staircase serving as a means of exit from such room, shall be kept clear and capable of being easily and rapidly opened from inside so as to ensure quick and easy evacuation;
c. the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) shall also be complied with in respect of the outer escape exit from the workplace;
d. staircases and steps leading from one floor to another or to the ground shall be provided with substantial hand-rails;
e. staircases intended to be used as fire escapes shall -
i. be constructed of non-combustible material;
ii. be kept clear of any material or other obstruction; and
iii. not terminate in an enclosed area;
f. staircases, passages and exits intended for escape purposes shall be of a width and of a gradient which will facilitate the quick and safe egress of the number of persons intended to make use of them; and
g. having regard to the size, construction and location of a workplace, the number of persons, and the activity therein, such workplace is provided with at least two means of egress situated as far apart as is practicable.
2. Having regard to the size, construction and location of the workplace, and the amount and type of flammable articles uses, handled or stored on the premises, an employer shall provide on the premises an adequate supply of suitable fire-fighting equipment at strategic locations or as may be recommended by the fire chief of the local authority concerned, and such equipment shall be maintained in good working order.
Return to Rhodes University's Safety front page. Questions/Suggestions? Contact safety(at)ru.ac.za