Skip to main content


See Fire Safety at Vanderbilt University for more information.

If you smell smoke, see a fire, or hear a fire alarm:

  1. IMMEDIATELY EVACUATE THE BUILDING.  Always use the stairs.  Never use elevators during a fire.
  2. If the fire alarm has not been activated, then pull the manual fire alarm pull station by the nearest exit.  Assist any person in need.
  3. Before opening doors, check for heat:
      1. Open the door carefully and proceed to the nearest exit.
      2. Close doors behind you and leave the lights on.
      3. If there is light smoke, stay low and cover your face with a cloth to filter out particulates.
      1. Seek another exit.
      2. If you are on a ground floor, try to exit through a window.
  4. If you are trapped in a room on an upper floor:
    1. Call 911 to report your building, floor, room number, and the number of people with you.
    2. Prevent smoke from entering the room. If accessible, place wet towels or cloth material at the bottom of the door and cover any vents.
    3. If the room begins to fill with smoke, you can open the window slightly. Never break the window because this might cause a chimney effect and help spread the fire.
  5. Assist the physically impaired as you evacuate the building.
    1. Offer to guide the visually impaired.
    2. Instruct the hearing impaired to evacuate with you. If you encounter a wheelchair-bound person, assist them to a refuge point and instruct them to wait for Fire Department assistance.
      1. The first choice for a refuge point would be a widened stairway landing that will accommodate a wheelchair without impeding patrons as they exit.
      2. If no stairway refuge exists, then have them remain in a room with a window.
      3. Make every attempt to ensure they have a phone or cell phone available.
      4. Make note of their exact location and continue to evacuate the building.
  6. After you safely evacuate from the building, report to your designated assembly area.
  7. Report to your supervisor or designated point of contact and communicate to them:
    1. The location of anyone who could not be evacuated.
    2. The location and phone number of any mobility impaired person you assisted.
    3. Any problems you witnessed while exiting the building, such as hallways/stairs filling with smoke or blocked by fire.
  8. DO NOT go back into the building until the Fire Department or the Vanderbilt University Police personnel provide the All Clear.

To call the Vanderbilt University Police Department in an emergency:

  • Dial 911 from any campus phone.
  • Dial (615) 421-1911 from any other phone.