University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Administrative Policy Statement

Fire Safety

(Approved by the Executive Director of Health Sciences Administration by authority of Executive Order No. 1)

1.  Policy

In accordance with Chapter 19.27 RCW, "State Building Code," the University is required to comply with the state of Washington's International Fire Code (IFC) and Chapters 296-24, 296-62, 296-67, 296-155, and 296-800 WAC. Local jurisdictions (counties and cities) are authorized to administer and enforce the IFC. Local jurisdictions may also amend the IFC provided their codes are no less stringent than state code. Seattle, Tacoma, and other local jurisdictions have adopted local amendments to the IFC through municipal and other codes. The specific ordinance reference changes every code cycle.

The IFC sets forth regulations consistent with nationally recognized practices for safeguarding life and property from the hazards of fire and explosion. The provisions of the code apply similarly to the building code, i.e., new construction and renovation. However, the code is retroactive for conditions, which, in the opinion of the local Chief (or Fire Marshal in many jurisdictions) constitute a distinct hazard to life and property.

In compliance with Chapter 49.17 RCW, "Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA)," and Chapter 296-24 WAC, Part G-1, the University is required to maintain egress and develop employee emergency and fire prevention plans.

State-licensed facilities, such as hospitals, health clinics, and daycare centers, are also regulated for fire safety by state agencies, such as the Department of Health, the Department of Social and Health Services, the State Fire Marshal's Office within the Washington State Patrol, and other licensing bodies.

2.  Scope

This policy applies at all locations including the Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma campuses, jointly-owned facilities, all other University-owned property, University-leased space, and temporary field operations and field trips that are under the control of University operations and staff.

The UW Bothell campus has special considerations related to its co-location with Cascadia Community College and relationships with local jurisdictions and agencies that affect how this policy is implemented. Consult UW Bothell operating procedures and programs for implementation details.

The UW Tacoma campus has special considerations related to local jurisdictions and agencies. Consult UW Tacoma operating procedures and programs for implementation.

3.  UW Compliance Responsibility

It is University policy that each vice president, vice chancellor, dean, director, department chair, and supervisor is responsible for the health and safety performance in his or her respective units. This responsibility can be neither transferred nor delegated.

A.   Environmental Health and Safety

The Environmental Health and Safety Department (EH&S) serves organizational units by conducting fire prevention surveys, identifying fire safety deficiencies, promoting fire safety programs, and providing training and general consultation. EH&S also processes regulatory agency violations, performs fire investigations, reviews new construction, assists with hazardous material requirements and evacuation planning, and provides an assurance role for fire and life safety system confidence testing.

EH&S has been designated as the University's primary liaison with the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) and other agencies regulating fire safety.

B.   Facilities Services Engineering Services

Facilities Services is responsible for comprehensive routine upkeep and emergency repair of the University's Seattle campus physical assets. Under this broad charge Facilities Services is responsible for operation and maintenance of the fire safety systems, lighting, fire extinguishers, fire doors, and other "fire safety"-related building systems and equipment at the Seattle campus. Outside of the Seattle campus, facility operation and maintenance rests with the applicable organizational unit.

C.   Campus, Organizational Unit, Department

Each organizational unit is responsible for a number of specific requirements including, but not limited to:

  • Reporting fire, explosion, and hazardous material spills or releases,
  • Fire prevention,
  • Fire extinguishers,
  • Emergency and pre-fire planning,
  • Evacuation,
  • Proper use of corridors and unassigned space,
  • Preventing false and needless fire alarms, and
  • Following the appropriate permit procedures when altering a building.

Organizational units are also responsible for proper storage and use of hazardous materials, hazardous material permits, signs, and maintaining inventories.

4.  Compliance Procedures

For information on the following compliance procedures, refer to the EH&S Fire Safety website.

5.  Additional Information

For further information and specific guidelines and procedures regarding fire safety, contact the Environmental Health and Safety Department:

December 9, 2003.