Environmental Health and Safety

Fire and Life Safety Training Programs

The best way to avoid a fire is to be knowledgeable of fire hazards and how to prevent them. EHS Fire Safety will provide training to any Virginia Tech employee, staff, faculty, and student organization upon request.

New Employees All new employees are sent a "Welcome to Virginia Tech" email which outlines the university's expectations for safety compliance.

Supervisors are required to review the fire hazards and emergency procedures for the new employee's workplace during the first few days of employment.
Employees A variety of fire and life safety training programs are available for all Virginia Tech employees. A complete listing of all the trainings offered by EHS can be found here.

Training for targeted audiences on fire and life safety or the use of portable fire extinguishers can be arranged by contacting EHS at 231-3600.
Students EHS and Housing and Residence Life work together each year to provide fire and life safety education to students living on campus. Each year Area Coordinators, Resident Directors and Resident Advisors are required to attend fire and life safety training during their orientation at the beginning of fall semester.

All students living in campus owned residential buildings are encouraged to take an on-line computer "Fire and Life Safety" training course. This course will inform students on how to protect themselves and reduce the risk of fire in their building.

Fire and Life Safety Training

EHS offers training on the following topics:

  • Flammable and Combustible Liquids
  • Resident Hall Fire Safety Training
  • Hot Work Permit Coordinator Training
  • Compressed Gas Cylinders Training

Fire Prevention Planning Training

The primary purpose of fire prevention planning is to prevent fires from starting. Fire prevention procedures are for preventing, detecting and extinguishing fires. Fire prevention starts with identifying the fire hazards. The requirements related to fire prevention plannning can be found here.

Public Assembly Emergency Procedures - Training for Employees and Volunteers

Employees or attendees of assembly occupancies must be trained in emergency evacuation procedures and practice this training during drills. Employees who have been assigned fire response duties must also be instructed in the proper use of portable fire extinguishers and other manual fire suppression equipment, where provided. EHS personnel are available to provide training for all persons with this responsibility upon request.

Portable Fire Extinguishers Training

Portable fire extinguishers (PFE's) are found in most buildings on campus. When used properly, PFE can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives. PFE however, are not designed to fight a large or spreading fire. Extinguishers can be used to allow you to safely exit a burning building.

Employee duties during evacuation Employees are expected to evacuate the building, unless it is specifically part of their job description that they will attempt to control a fire. However, if you are properly trained to use a PFE, can evaluate the situation and extinguish a fire safely with no personal risk, then you may do so. The choice is yours.
Employees required to be trained on Portable Fire Extinguishers Certain employees are required to attend portable fire extinguisher safety training:
  • Those who have specific duties as first responders as part of an Emergency Action Plan;
  • Ushers and attendants at large public gatherings who have assigned fire response duties;
  • Those who inspect the extinguishers;
  • Those involved in construction and renovation work, especially those performing utility and "hot work" (e.g., welding, cutting, brazing, and grinding).
  • Those who work at fuel dispensing stations.
Employees required to do monthly inspections on Portable Fire Extinguishers The portable fire extinguishers in common areas are required to be inspected by housekeeping staff. Portable fire extinguishers in other non-general areas and lab spaces are required to be inspected by designated personnel for the area.
Portable Fire Extinguisher training This training is offered through EHS upon request. All Virginia Tech employees who must have PFE training are required to attend a training session every two years. Training is available both in-person and on-line.
Classifications of Fire There are four main classifications of fire:
  • Class "A" or ordinary combustibles, such as wood, paper, plastic, rubber, and clothe.
  • Class "B" or flammable and combustible liquids, such as gasoline, oil, grease, tar, oil-based paint, lacquer and flammable gases.
  • Class "C" Energized electrical equipment, including wiring, fuses boxes, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances.
  • Class "D" or combustible metals, such as zirconium, titanium, potassium, and magnesium.
  • Class "K" Wet chemical extinguishers designed specifically for kitchen fires involving high temperature cooking oils used for deep frying, grilling and other types of cooking.
Classifications of Portable Fire Extinguishers PFE's come in many types, sizes, shapes, and colors. The three most common types of PFE on campus are:

ABC Multi-Purpose Dry Chemical, Stored Pressure Type - These are the most commonly found extinguishers on campus and can be used on all classes of fire except combustible metals. They range in size from 2.5 to 20 lbs., and have an effective range of 5 to 20 feet.

Water Extinguisher - These are for Class A fires only, and have an effective range of 30 to 40 feet.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extinguisher - These are for small Class B or C fires only. They range in size from 5 to 20 lbs., and their effective range is 3 to 8 feet.
Safe Use of Portable Fire Extinguishers If you do fight the fire, remember the word PASS

PULL the pin.
AIM the hose or nozzle at the base of the fire.
SQUEEZE the handle to release the extinguishing agent.
SWEEP from side to side.

Keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep back and forth until it appears to be out. Watch the fire area. If fire breaks out again, repeat the process.
Precautions for fighting a small fire Before you begin to fight a small fire:
  • Be sure that your extinguisher is the proper size and type for the fire at hand and that you have been trained in how to use it
  • Make sure everyone has left, or is leaving, the building.
  • Make sure the fire department has been called.
  • Be certain that the fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket, and that it is not spreading beyond the immediate area.
  • Be sure that your back is to a safe and unobstructed exit to which the fire will not spread.

It is reckless to fight a fire with an extinguisher in any other circumstances. Instead, leave the area immediately, close off the area and leave the fire for the fire department.

If you need to order a portable fire extinguisher for your area, please contact Facilities Services at 231-4300.