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Fire Safety

Policy Statement

Dalhousie University endeavours to protect faculty, staff, students, and facilities by constructing operating and maintaining buildings and by adopting procedures which minimize the risk of injury or damage from fire.

Staff, faculty, students, and other users of Dalhousie buildings shall observe standard fire safety practices and shall not tamper with equipment or systems which are designed to detect fire or to limit the spread of fire or smoke through a building.


Guided by the National Building and Fire Codes, and in co-operation with the Halifax Regional Municipality Fire and Emergency Service and the Fire Commissioner of Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University installs and maintains fire equipment as appropriate in each University building. Included among this equipment are smoke and heat detectors, sprinklers, stand pipes, fire hoses and extinguishers, emergency lights and alarm systems, and signage.

In each building, the dean, director, departmental chair, or other individual who supervises staff who work in the building shall appoint a building fire warden. With the assistance of the Safety Office, the building fire warden will be assigned responsibility for:

  • developing and maintaining a building emergency evacuation plan;
  • conducting, at least annually, a fire drill in which all occupants evacuate the building under a simulated emergency condition;
  • supervising the evacuation during emergencies;
  • conducting monthly fire and general safety inspections of the building.

Anyone who discovers or suspects a fire or other situation which poses a risk to life or safety, shall immediately evacuate and:

  1. if possible, close the door to contain the fire;
  2. sound the alarm;
  3. provide assistance as needed by fire wardens or building occupants who need help to evacuate.

In buildings not equipped with alarms anyone who discovers a fire shall immediately evacuate the area of the fire and:

  1. if possible close the door to contain the fire;
  2. notify other building occupants of the emergency and the need to evacuate;
  3. assist fire wardens or building occupants who need help to evacuate;
  4. notify Security from a safe location outside the building.

When the alarm sounds or when informed of an emergency;

  1. The building fire warden (or in the absence of the warden team) the responding Security Officer shall assume responsibility for the building and activate the emergency evacuation plan. The building fire warden shall turn over responsibility for the building to the responding HRM Fire and Emergency Services unit, briefing the officer on the nature of the emergency and the evacuation status of the building.
  2. Building occupants shall provide required assistance to the building warden team and the responding HRM Fire and Emergency Services
            Following an emergency evacuation, no-one shall enter the building until informed that it is safe to do so by a member of the responding HRM Fire and Emergency Services unit, a Dalhousie Security Officer, or a member of the building warden team.  
  3. All occupants must evacuate the building under the direction of building fire wardens.
    Special provisions exist in Fenwick Place, Dalplex, and the theatres of the Dalhousie Arts Centre. When the alarm sounds in these buildings, occupants shall follow the instructions of the building fire wardens regarding partial or phased evacuations.
  4. Faculty, teaching assistants, and others responsible for classes underway at the time of an alarm, shall ensure students are safely evacuated from the building. Students or others with limited mobility may require additional assistance during an emergency evacuation.


  1. Silencing of the alarm bells does not indicate that it is safe to enter the building.
  2. In the aftermath of a fire, no-one shall enter or disturb the fire scene until authorized to do so by the Director of Environmental Health and Safety or the Chief of Security.
  3. Tampering with fire detection or suppression equipment or falsely initiating a fire alarm are offenses under the law. Offenders will be prosecuted.
  4. Emergency vehicle access to all buildings must be kept clear of obstructions at all times.
  5. The supervisor shall acquaint all new employees with this policy, the Dalhousie Fire Safety Rules, and the building emergency evacuation plan. Staff and faculty responsible for classes shall ensure that all students are acquainted with the emergency exit routes from the building in which the class is held.


The Director of Environmental Health and Safety is responsible for ensuring that:

  • building fire safety plans are prepared and updated as required;
  • appropriate training is available to fire wardens;
  • emergency evacuation drills are carried out at least annually in every building equipped with an alarm system;
  • review of all fires causing injuries or serious property damage.

The Director of Facilities Management is responsible for the installation, inspection, and upkeep of fire detection and suppression equipment and systems.

The Chair of the Department is responsible for appointing the Chief Fire Warden.

Between the initiation of an emergency evacuation and the arrival of an HRM Fire and Emergency Services unit, the fire warden team or, in the absence of the warden team, a Dalhousie Security Officer is responsible for the building.

Date Issuued: April 1990 Date Revised: February 2004