Public Safety

Fire Drills and Smoke Detectors

Fire Alarms, Fire Drills and Evacuations

Most times the terms fire alarms and fire drills are used interchangeably. Although, the words seem to mean the same thing, they do not.

A fire alarm is an unplanned activation of a fire suppression system. This activation may include pulling a pull station, sprinkler activation, activation of a smoke detector or even activation of fire suppression system by a contractor or someone working on the system. A fire alarm may even be caused by someone who smells smoke.

A fire drill is planned and coordinated. The building occupants may not be aware of the fire drill however, the people conducting the drills (emergency responders and Building Safety Point of Contacts) have planned the drill and are coordinating the evacuation process. According to the Ohio Fire Code (OFC) 405.2, a fire drill is required annually for businesses with an occupant load of 500 or more or more than 100 persons above or below the lowest level exit.

To qualify as a fire drill and to meet the OFC, the drill must be unannounced to the occupants. In the fall, Public Safety will send out information of these drills and the date for the drill. We will NOT specify the times but we are willing to work with the departments who have an event where a drill would be detrimental. Although, a fire alarm can happen at times we cannot control, we will do the best we can with these drills to minimize interruption. We do not conduct drills during inclement weather. These fire drills are conducted in University of Cincinnati (UC) buildings in August and September. Other buildings that are not mandated to have a fire drill, may request a drill to be conducted. UC Residence Halls have fire drills conducted monthly with one drill per year required after sunset and before sunrise.

Whether a fire drill or fire alarm, occupants shall treat all alarm activations (unless notified prior to the alarm-occasionally needed for testing of the system) as a real emergency by quickly gathering belongings, closing doors and evacuating the building. Once out of the building arriving at the predesignated meeting location to be accounted for is important. Building Safety Points of Contacts will attempt to account for members. Those who do not arrive at the designated location will be reported to emergency responders. 

Smoke Detector Testing

The University of Cincinnati has fire alarm technicians and fire inspectors on campus. We rely on them for the testing, servicing and oversight of the fire safety devices. Monthly, the fire inspectors are in each room of all residence halls testing and checking the smoke detectors to ensure their operation. If issues are found, they are reported to the fire alarm technicians who will immediately repair, test and put back in service the smoke detector.

UC buildings that are not residence halls have their systems tested annually by the fire alarm technicians, as required by code. At this time, EVERY smoke detector, EVERY heat detector, EVERY pull station, in EVERY university building is tested individually.