Fire Reporting Procedures

April 2022

The following CAPE procedure shall be followed when someone discovers a fire in a building, regardless of how large the fire is:

  1. C Close door to Contain fire. This will confine the fire to a smaller area.
  2. A Alert people in the Area. Pull stations are usually located next to an exit or stairwell door
  3.  P Pull Fire Alarm and Phone Campus Police 2111. Phone from a safe location . You or someone you designate must make the telephone call from a safe location as quickly as possible. Once you have given the dispatcher the information, wait until the dispatcher hangs up before you hang up because the dispatcher may need more information. The Amherst Fire Department through the Campus Police will know from your call that this is an active fire and not “burned food” or a malicious false alarm.
  4. E - Extinguish or Evacuate. 
  • If the fire is small and you have been trained to use the fire extinguisher, you may attempt to put the fire out. (Refer to the Fire Extinguisher Section of this plan.)
  • If you have not been trained to use the fire extinguisher or the fire is too large to extinguish, EVACUATE the building and:
  • Go to the closest exit and proceed directly to your assigned area away from the building. You should have a pre-designated area to meet for accountability reasons.
  • Notify others on your way out that this is a real fire but do not stop to force their evacuation.
  • When you get to your assigned area, wait to be accounted for and stay with your class, department or office so that the fire department or campus police officer can ask questions about the building or fire.
  • If you have knowledge of the fire, such as location, size, cause, or you are aware of a person trapped, immediately notify the Campus Police Officer who will provide the fire department with this information

» If you are unable to evacuate the building because of fire or smoke in the corridor:

  • Remain calm.
  • Close the door to the room you are in and call the Amherst College Campus Police at 2111 to report your position so that you can be rescued.
    1. If smoke begins to come in under the door, stuff blankets or towels (preferably wet) under the door to prevent the smoke from coming in. Wave a brightly colored article of clothing or similar material in the window to attract attention; do not break the window unless absolutely necessary. Breaking the window may result in falling glass injuring people below or smoke entering the window making it more difficult to breath.

Do not re-enter the building, until:

  1. The fire alarm has been silenced, and
  2. The fire or police department has indicated that it is acceptable to re-enter.

Fire Extinguishers

The fire extinguishers around the campus have been strategically placed by potential hazard, size, and type. In most cases fire extinguishers should be located next to the main door of a room, near an exit door (i.e., a stairwell) or every 50’ – 75’ in the corridor of a building depending on the criteria of the Massachusetts Building Code. Fire extinguishers should not be located on the opposite side of the room away from your only means of egress.

For health and safety reasons as required by OSHA, only persons who have been trained in the handling, selection, and use of a fire extinguisher shall operate them. The use of the wrong type of extinguisher could cause the fire to spread or the user to become seriously injured.


  1. Pressurized Water (P/W)- These are normally found in residence halls where cloth, paper, and wood are the most common hazards. They are metallic colored and hold approximately 2 ½ gallons of water. They are capable of discharging a distance of 25’ – 30’ for approximately 1 minute.
  2. Dry Chemical (ABC) or (BC) – These are normally found in cars, laboratories, and other places where gasoline, oil, and other combustible/flammable liquids are used. They are usually red in color and are capable of spraying 10’ – 15’ for approximately 30 seconds.
  3. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – These are normally found only in electrical or mechanical rooms where electricity is the hazard. They are used to put out electrical fires while the equipment is still energized. The carbon dioxide extinguishers are red in color, have no gauge to indicate amount of contents, and are limited to a spray distance of 5’ – 10’ for about 10 seconds.
  4. Halon - These extinguishers were used for computer room fires in the past, but there use now is questionable because of health risks associated with the halon agents in a fire situation. Amherst College no longer uses this type of extinguisher or extinguishing agent.


  1. Type A - Cloth, paper and wood that produce Ash
  2. Type B - Gasoline, oil, and other combustible/flammable material placed in a Barrel.
  3. Type C - Electrically energized fires involving equipment and Circuits or Current


  1. Check the type of extinguisher
    • Is it the right type for the fire involved? Check the side of the extinguisher to determine type.
  2. Check the extinguisher for operation
    • Does the extinguisher have an inspection tag, plastic tie, and pin in place?
    • Does the pressure gauge needle point straight up, indicating fully charged?
  3. PASS Procedure
    • Pull the pin. – Test the extinguisher to see if it works.
    • Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
    • Squeeze the handle to activate the agent.
    • Sweep across or at the base of the fire depending on the fire type.
  4. Never turn your back towards the fire, even if you think it is out.