Section 9. Fire and Life Safety

 The responsible administrator for this section is the Environmental Health and Safety Office. The Environmental Health and Safety Office has approval authority.

9.1. Candles and Open Flame/Combustion Devices

Open-flame devices, except for cigarette lighters and matches, are prohibited in residence halls. Candles for religious services and birthday parties must be approved in advance by either the Environmental Health and Safety or the Amherst College Police Department. Additional information and resources about candles can be found on the Environmental Health and Safety website.

9.1.1. If lit or previously-burned candles or incense are found or reported, they will be confiscated.

9.1.2. The use of any smoking material(s) is not permitted in any Amherst College building or academic, residential or support area, including outside assemblies and gatherings. Smoking must be done outside, at least 25 feet away from the main windows and doorways of any building.

9.2. Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Amherst College has recently installed additional carbon monoxide detectors in all residence halls that use gas or oil for heating and/or wood for fireplaces. These detectors were installed as required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for your protection, as carbon monoxide is a colorless, practically odorless gas that is generated through incomplete combustion or inadequate ventilation, such as might occur when, for example, a chimney flue is not opened.

9.2.1. Carbon monoxide is a cumulative poison, which, at low concentrations, will cause flu-like symptoms, or, at higher concentrations, will impair vision and coordination and lead to headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea and possibly even death. The detectors are typically placed 5 feet above the floor, as required. This placement makes the units accessible to building occupants. The detectors are connected to each building’s fire alarm system, as well as heating systems. Pressing the “test” button will send an alarm to Amherst College Police Department, will shut down the heating system as is required and will initiate a response by Amherst College Police Department, Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities.

9.2.2. Carbon monoxide detectors are life safety devices. Damaging or using the detectors improperly will result in adjudication, as well as potential restitution charges for labor by Facilities staff.

9.2.3. If the alarm sounds, contact Amherst College Police Department at (413) 542–2111.

9.2.4. If the carbon monoxide alarm activates, it indicates that the level of carbon monoxide is at or above 35 parts per million, which is well below hazardous concentrations.

9.3. Ceilings and Walls

In accordance with the requirements of the Massachusetts Fire Prevention Regulations, ceilings and walls in student rooms and common areas in any building are not permitted to have greater than 20 percent of any surface covered with combustible material such as paper, posters or other wall hangings. Ceiling and wall hangings must be fire retardant. Additionally, the following expectations apply:

9.3.1. Items cannot block or partially obstruct a smoke detector.

9.3.2. Items cannot block or partially obstruct a fire alarm horn or strobe.

9.3.3. Items cannot interfere with the operation of a sprinkler system.

9.3.4. Items cannot be hung from sprinkler heads or piping.

9.3.5. Curtains and other draperies cannot be used in rooms as dividers. Curtains and other draperies used as designed must be flame resistant and tagged as such.

9.3.6. Students are responsible for the cost of repairing any damage caused by their failure to abide by these policies.

9.4. Fire Reporting Procedure

The following procedure should be followed if a fire is discovered:

9.4.1. Close the door to contain the fire

9.4.2. Alert people in the area

9.4.3. Pull the fire alarm (located by the exit doors) and call the Amherst College Police Department at (413) 542-2111

9.4.4. Extinguish the fire extinguisher (if trained), the fire is small and you feel comfortable or Evacuate to your designated accountability area

9.5. Fire Evacuation Procedure

When evacuating the building, the most direct possible means of egress should be used.

9.5.1. Before opening a door, a person should feel the door with the back of the hand.

9.5.2. If the door is hot or if fire or smoke can be seen in the corridor, students should not pass through and should instead stay in the room. Students should pack towels (preferably wet) under the door to prevent smoke entry, telephone the Amherst College Police Department at (413) 542–2111 and report their location. If a telephone is not available, students should go to the window and wave a brightly colored cloth to attract attention. Students should open but not break the window. If a window is broken, smoke may enter from the floor below.

9.5.3. If the door is cool, a student should open it slowly and, if there is no smoke, proceed to the nearest exit. If the smoke is light, students should crawl, low to the ground, to the closest exit. If smoke is encountered along the way, an alternative escape route should be chosen. Students should make sure doors close behind them, to prevent the spread of smoke. Once outside, students should proceed to the pre-designated area, 50’ away from the building and doors, to make sure that they are accounted for. Each residence hall has a designated area, as well as an alternate shelter for inclement weather. If occupants were unable to get out of the building or if they cannot be found, this should be reported to the Amherst College Police Department officer, who will arrive on the scene as soon as possible.

9.6. Emergency Evacuation Procedures for Persons with Disabilities

If an occupant, resident or visitor with a disability is located on the ground floor of a building, they should exit through the closest appropriate means of egress. If the person is located above or below the ground floor, the elevator should not be used. Rather, the person should stay in the office or room, or comply with specific examples listed below.

The person should call Amherst College Police Department at (413) 542–2111; give the dispatcher their name, exact location, room number and telephone number; and remain by the phone until contacted by the Amherst College Police Department. Firefighters will assist persons who are unable to evacuate.

Persons with hearing impairments can be assisted out of the building, provided that they are made aware of the activation of the fire alarm.

Persons with visual impairments can be safely helped out of the building, provided that someone is there to assist them and that most of the other building occupants have already left the building. The evacuation of persons with disabilities at the same time as everyone else might increase the risk of accident or otherwise endanger all persons trying to vacate the building.

Persons with mobility impairments should, in most cases, remain in their rooms until assisted by the Fire Department. Untrained occupants should not attempt to carry people from the building. This could cause stairway restriction for other evacuees and may also result in serious injury.

9.7. Fire Alarms and Drills

All faculty, staff and students are required to evacuate a building during a fire alarm. If a fire alarm sounds, doors to rooms should be closed and students should proceed to the closest exit. If smoke hampers a means of egress, persons should seek an alternative route.

Fire drills at Amherst College will be conducted at least twice during the academic year. Fire drills are performed to familiarize occupants in the building with the sounds of the fire alarm, to verify that the system is working as required and to test the evacuation systems for faculty, staff and students.

9.7.1. Building occupants should not use elevators to evacuate the building as smoke will rise into the elevator shafts, placing everyone inside at serious risk. The stairs should be used to evacuate safely. If other people who may be unfamiliar with the alarm are observed in the building, they should be advised of the fire alarm and advised to evacuate.

9.7.2. Never force a person to leave or become confrontational. When outside the building, notify an Amherst College Police Department officer. Everyone should proceed to a pre-designated assembly area, at least 50 feet away from the building. Persons should not stand in front of or near the entrances to the building, obstructing firefighters’ access to the building. Faculty and staff are required to have an accountability system in place, as they are responsible for their respective students in class or their staff at work.

Persons must not reenter the building until the fire alarm has been silenced and the Amherst College Police Department or the Amherst Fire Department has indicated that it is safe to reoccupy.

9.8. Fire Doors, Escapes, and Exits

All means of egress and components must be properly maintained at all times, in accordance with the requirements of the State Building and Fire Prevention Regulations.

9.8.1. Means of egress shall include, but are not limited to, corridors, doorways, fire escapes, interior and exterior stairwells, and exterior sidewalks that lead to parking lots or streets. Corridors and stairwells in residence halls have the following life safety equipment: emergency lighting, exit signs, fire extinguishers, fire alarms and smoke detectors.

9.8.2. Tampering with or otherwise damaging this equipment could cause a serious accident or injury and make it difficult for persons to evacuate the building during an emergency.

9.8.3. Corridors in residence halls are required to be free of hazard and obstruction. Corridors, fire escapes, hallways, and interior and exterior stairwells cannot be used for the placement or storage of combustible material (including boxes, cardboard and/or paper), bicycles, furniture or any item or equipment that would hinder a safe means of egress or firefighting operations.

9.8.4. Corridors, fire escapes, hallways and stairwells, cannot be used as runways for extension cords, telephone wires or television cables that could create a personal injury hazard. Fire escapes cannot be used for the placement or storage of bicycles, equipment, grills, etc. Items left in the corridors may be removed and destroyed by the College.

9.8.5. Fire doors in corridors and stairwells, except smoke-activated fire doors that close when the fire alarm is activated, cannot be chocked or otherwise held open.

9.9. Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are strategically located on campus, based on the types of hazard present. Typically, a Type A Pressurized Water (PW) extinguisher is placed in a corridor of a residence hall for use by emergency response personnel, such as an Amherst College Police Department officer, firefighter or other trained person, such as a custodian, Resident Counselor, etc.

9.9.1. Only persons who have been trained to use a fire extinguisher shall do so, and only if the fire is small in size and the users are not placing themselves or anyone else at risk.

9.9.2. Persons who are not trained shall simply close the door to the room where the fire is located (if possible) and evacuate the building, as indicated above.

9.9.3. Dry Chemical (ABC) fire extinguishers are placed in areas where cooking is done or where flammable liquids are present, such as in a laboratory or vehicle.

Special care should be taken when using this type of fire extinguisher for a fire involving flammable gases and liquids, as there is a possibility of personal injury. Do not use this type of extinguisher unless you have been trained and you are sure it is safe to do so.

Fire extinguishers have a specific purpose on campus and have been successfully used to extinguish small fires before the arrival of the fire department. Fire extinguishers must be free of obstruction and shall not be tampered with, as they are often used by Amherst College Police Department, trained faculty, staff and students, as well as the Amherst Fire Department before attack lines can be pulled off the fire engine.

9.9.4. Fire extinguisher training is available, upon request, through the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. 

9.10. Fireplaces

Amherst College inspects fireplaces in common areas. Only fireplaces found to be in proper working order can be used.

9.10.1. Fireplaces located within individual student rooms are not to be used.

9.10.2. Resident Counselors can contact Environmental Health and Safety for training before the fireplace is used.

9.10.3. In order to use a fireplace on campus, in accordance with the requirements of the Amherst Fire Department, persons must first be trained. Fireplaces must have screens, tools, metal ash buckets and fire extinguishers in place before being used. Affixed to the mantel or wall by each operational fireplace is a sign that indicates, as a reminder, how the fireplace is to be used. The sign is not a substitute for training. It also identifies the type and age of the firewood and the proper equipment to be kept on hand. Refer to Fireplace Safety Training on the Environmental Health and Safety website for additional information and requirements.

9.10.4. Fireplaces are not to be used for cooking.

9.11. Furniture

Student rooms are furnished with fire-code-compliant furniture and mattresses. An inventory of this furniture and its physical condition will be made at the beginning and end of each school year. Personal furnishings brought in by students are often not fire-code-compliant and will not be permitted if they fail to meet minimum requirements, such as CAL 117, CAL 133 or NFPA 701. A tag with appropriate code-required information will appear on the article of furniture.

9.11.1. If, in the judgment of the Environmental Health and Safety, there is a potential fire or related health or safety hazard, the item shall be removed at the student’s expense.

9.11.2. Any items remaining after that date will be disposed of by the College at the student’s expense.

9.11.3. Furniture not authorized for the room in question is considered stolen property.

9.11.4. Room searches for stolen or missing furniture may be conducted periodically.

9.11.5. Waterbeds and similar furniture are not permitted, because of the strain imposed on the building structure and the danger of water damage.

9.11.6. All personally owned furniture and furnishings must be removed from student residences at the time the residences are vacated. The College’s lounge furniture cannot be used to enhance student rooms or off-campus apartments.

9.12. Holiday Decorations

In accordance with the Massachusetts Fire Prevention Regulations, the following decorative items shall not be permitted in Amherst College buildings, including residence halls:

9.12.1. Candles, incense or open-flame devices, unless previously approved by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S),

9.12.2. Live cut trees or other sawn trees,

9.12.3. Live cut wreaths or other decorative wreaths,

9.12.4. Cornstalks or shucks,

9.12.5. Cotton or confetti,

9.12.6. Dry moss or leaves,

9.12.7. Hay or straw,

9.12.8. Paper streamers,

9.12.9. Sawdust or wood shavings,

9.12.10. Tree branches or leaves.

9.12.11. Only UL- or fire marshal-approved artificial trees, wreaths and lighting for indoor use may be used in academic or residential buildings. If used, lights may not be run over ceiling tiles or grids or through walls or doorways.

9.12.12. Lights must be hung below the ceiling, using a non-conductive material (e.g., string or tape).

9.12.13. Lights may not restrict means of egress and can be removed by the College Fire Marshal or Environmental Health and Safety Manager if a hazardous condition exists.

9.12.14. No more than three sets of lights can be attached to a single extension cord.

9.12.15. Lights must be turned off whenever the area is unattended.

9.13. Failure to Evacuate

Except for emergency response agencies, all occupants in the building must evacuate when a fire alarm has been activated. Individuals or groups failing to evacuate will be subject to criminal prosecution.

The Amherst College Police Department and/or the Amherst Fire Department can perform floor and building sweeps for the health and safety of the residents. Residents found in their rooms during fires or fire alarms will be reported to Student Affairs. Amherst College has adopted this approach to help prevent “false-alarm apathy.”

9.14. Fire Department Access

Persons who intentionally block or otherwise hamper the duties of the Amherst Fire Department or Amherst College Police Department during a fire or medical emergency will be subject to criminal prosecution.

No vehicle, except for emergency response apparatus or cars, may park in a designated fire lane or in front of a hydrant. Amherst College is not responsible for any damage to a motor vehicle that obstructs the response of the Amherst Fire Department or other emergency response agency.

9.15. Fire Detection and Suppression Equipment Tampering

Unauthorized modifications of or tampering with the fire detection and/or suppression system (including fire extinguishers) in any building or room will result in criminal prosecution.

9.16. Fire Drills

Fire drills at Amherst College will be conducted at least twice during the academic year. Fire drills are performed to familiarize occupants in the building with the sounds of the fire alarm, to verify that the system is working as required and to test the evacuation systems for faculty, staff and students. 

9.17. False Fire Alarm

Any person who, without proper justification, turns in a false fire alarm by activating a pull station or calling in a report of fire may be subject to criminal prosecution.

9.18. Burning of Building Component(s) or a Building

Any person who sets fire, knowingly or accidentally, to components of a building (i.e., doors, bulletin boards, furniture) and/or the building itself will face adjudication, expulsion from College housing and/or criminal prosecution. In addition, the responsible Individual(s) will pay for any damage or replacement costs.

9.19. Fire Hazards

Motorcycles, automobiles, mopeds, gasoline, propane, flammable liquids and other similar items are not allowed in buildings, other than those facilities specifically designed for that intended purpose, and shall be removed at the owners’ expense. Fire hazards, such as those associated with poor housekeeping, electrical hazards and improper use of cooking equipment, are addressed in a later section.

9.19.1 Battery-assisted Vehicles

Battery-assisted vehicles (e.g., Segways, hoverboards, electric scooters, electric bikes, etc.) are not permitted on campus without written permission from Student Health Services, Environmental Health and Safety, or Accessibility Services. Battery-assisted vehicles can be a hazard to pedestrians or other vehicles, they can damage infrastructure, and present a fire hazard to the community. Battery-assisted motor vehicles are permitted and are regulated by the Amherst College Traffic and Parking policy (

9.20. Smoke Bombs and Bomb Threats

Any person who possesses and/or activates a smoke bomb in a building without the permission of the Amherst College Police Department, or any person who initiates a bomb threat, will be subject to criminal prosecution.

Calling in a bomb threat or planting a bomb or other incendiary device will result in criminal prosecution.

9.21. Fireworks

Any person possessing and/or discharging fireworks on campus will be referred for criminal prosecution.

9.22. Smoking

The use of any smoking material(s) is not permitted in, or within 25 feet of, any building at Amherst College.

9.22.1. The 25-feet rule is in place to protect building entrants from having to walk through second-hand smoke and to prevent the introduction of smoke into the air intakes of the campus buildings. Smoking is not permitted in student rooms or inside any portion of a building.

9.22.2. Faculty, staff and students who are being adversely affected by smoking can contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety or the Office of Human Resources.

9.23. Sprinkler Systems

Sprinkler systems are life safety devices designed to discharge up to 20 gallons of water per minute during a fire.

9.23.1. The glass bulb or fusible link, if broken by heat or physical damage, will permit water flow.

9.23.2. Do not obstruct or hang anything from the sprinkler head or associated piping.

9.23.3. Do not place any items above, in front of or within 18 inches of a sprinkler head. Normal activity around a sprinkler head will not cause activation.

9.23.4. Striking a sprinkler head with a ball, stick or other similar object may cause significant water damage in the building. Obstruction of, damage to or tampering with a fire suppression system, such as a sprinkler system or fire extinguisher, is illegal.

9.23.5. In addition to potential criminal charges, the responsible individual(s) will pay for any damage or replacement costs for damage, obstruction or tampering with a fire suppression system.

9.24. Storage

Storage areas are monitored by the Amherst College Custodial Department, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety and the Town of Amherst. These storage areas must be properly maintained for fire and safety reasons.

9.24.1. Aisles must be adequate in width and passable.

9.24.2. Housekeeping must be maintained.

9.24.3. Empty combustible boxes must be discarded.

9.24.4. Storage cannot be placed within 18 feet of a sprinkler system.

9.24.5. Improper articles and items, as referenced on the doors and in this manual, shall not be placed in storage areas.

The Office of Environmental Health and Safety shall monitor these areas for code compliance and, when necessary, require the correction of noncompliant conditions, which are referenced above, at the expense of the residence hall or specific person(s). Items improperly stored may be removed or destroyed by the College. If the storage area must be addressed by the Custodial Department, the cost for corrective actions will be charged to the residence hall or the individual(s) responsible.

9.25. Biohazards

The inappropriate or intentional discharge, containment, or collection of a biohazard, such as urine, fecal matter, or other bodily fluid, is a significant health concern that is strictly prohibited on campus. Bodily fluid cleanup must be immediately addressed, as it is a public health issue. 

9.25.1. Students who require a sharps container for disposal of needles/syringes and other sharps can request a Sharps Container from the Office of Environmental Health & Safety by calling (413) 542-8189. EH&S will also pick up the containers when full for disposal through our Biohazardous Waste disposal company.

9.26. Bugs, Rodents, and other Pests

The presence of bugs, rodents and other pests is typically related to poor housekeeping practices, such as leaving food out or not disposing of waste. Amherst College has an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program which focuses on using environmentally appropriate pest-control practices, not fungicides, insecticides and rodenticides. The College has contracted with an outside pest-control company that inspects the campus at least weekly and when requested for a specific emergency.

• If faculty, staff or students wish to report pest-related problems, they should contact the Facilities Department at (413) 542–2254.

• If a bug, insect, pest or rodent problem is attributed, or thought to be attributed to, poor housekeeping practices, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety will inspect the area(s) involved and will initiate corrective action to reduce the hazards.

• If more aggressive housekeeping is required or if the timeline for cleanup has not been met by the occupant(s) of the room(s), Office of Environmental Health and Safety will request the response of the Custodial Department, who will rectify the adverse health conditions at the expense of the residence hall or individual(s) responsible.

9.27. Hazardous Materials

Waste disposal at Amherst College is closely monitored and regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Significant fines and regulatory actions can be levied against the College for improper disposal of hazardous and other regulated materials or waste.

The following items cannot be placed into trash containers or dumpsters on campus:

• Appliances/electronics

• Batteries, including alkaline and rechargeable

• Computer monitors

• Concrete

• Hazardous materials, including asbestos, chemicals, paint and oils

• Light bulbs (except incandescent)

• Metal (including pipes)

• Pesticides

• Recyclable materials

• Rocks, soil and stone

• Tires

Persons wanting to discard or recycle any of the items listed above must contact the Recycling Office at (413) 542–5038. Individuals responsible for improper storage, use and/or disposal of hazardous materials and waste may be required to pay the cost of cleanup and disposal.

9.28. Mold and Mildew Health Effects

For many people, mold is a significant concern. For those who are sensitive to its presence, it may trigger an asthma attack or initiate an allergic reaction. It can instigate coughing, eye irritation (itching and watering of the eyes), nasal stuffiness, throat irritation and/or skin discomfort. People who are immuno-compromised could develop serious lung infections that may be difficult, if not impossible, to treat.

Procedures for Reporting Leaks, Mold, and Mildew

Amherst College faculty, staff, students and visitors should always report the following non-emergency conditions to the Amherst College Facilities Department at (413) 542–2254 or

• Water damage and leaks, regardless of cause or potential source, both inside and outside the building

• Any drain- or sewer-related issues

• Decaying leaves, mulch or similar outside organic material outside of buildings around doors, windows and ventilation systems

• Standing water within 10 feet of a building

If the above-referenced condition is an emergency, such as a broken or leaking pipe, and it occurs after hours (3:30 pm to 7:00 am or on the weekend), then contact the Amherst College Police Department at (413) 542–2291. Amherst College will initiate the most appropriate response, depending on the type of emergency.

9.29. Odors

All odors should be reported to the Amherst College Facilities Department at (413) 542–2254. If the odors indicate potential emergencies, such as something burning, smoke or a potential hazardous material, immediately remove yourself from the area and contact the Amherst College Police Department at (413) 542–2111.

9.30. Pets

Because many people are allergic to animals and residence halls do not provide adequate space or security for the humane care of animals, no pets other than small aquarium fish or amphibians are allowed in residence halls, College houses or apartments. Absolutely no rodents or other nonhuman mammals are allowed in the residence halls. Aquariums or other cages for permitted pets may not use heat lamps. Note: Exceptions exist for service and support animals. Please see Section 8, Support Animals, for more information.

9.31. Inspections

Most residence hall fires begin in a student room. The cause could be careless disposal of smoking material, cooking equipment, candles or improper lights or wiring. Residents often believe that a fire will not take place in their building because the dormitory is constructed of brick and/or concrete. While it is true that the exterior is fire-resistant, the contents inside are not. Wastepaper baskets, sheets, futons, wall hangings and furniture are fuel sources for a potential fire; if ignited, each will allow smoke and flame to spread throughout a room, floor or building. Ignition sources include, but are not limited to, candles, extension cords, halogen lamps, hotplates, incense, space heaters, and smoke material.

Amherst College will inspect each means of egress, electrical room, recycling closet, student storage area and individual room to help maintain a healthy and safe living environment for all building residents. In addition, if the College receives a health- or safety-related complaint about an area or room within a residence hall, the College can and will inspect to rectify the hazardous conditions at the residents’ expense. The Amherst College Police Department, Environmental Health and Safety Office and/or Student Affairs can inspect, correct and, if necessary, confiscate any item found within an area or room that poses a risk to the occupants of the area, room or building.

Annually, in cooperation with the Town of Amherst’s Office of Inspection Services, Amherst College will inspect all academic and residential buildings on campus to obtain a Certificate of Inspection, which is required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. During this inspection, a comprehensive survey of all code and related health and safety issues is performed, work orders and appropriate notifications for issues of noncompliance are generated and corrective actions are initiated.

Environmental Health and Safety can and will inspect individual rooms or areas for fire, health, safety and sanitation reasons with or without prior notification of the occupant(s), depending on circumstances related to the above-identified conditions or complaints.

9.32. Appliances

For fire, health and safety reasons, the following appliances are not permitted in student rooms:

• Air conditioners

• Coffee makers and coffee pots without automatic shutoff

• Crock-Pots/slow cookers

• Doughnut makers

• Electric frying pans

• Gas appliances

• Grills

• Halogen lamps

• Hamburger makers

• Hotplates

• Immersion heaters

• Microwave ovens

• Popcorn poppers with oil

• Power strips without built-in breakers or fuses

• Refrigerators larger than 4.5 cubic feet

• Space heaters

• Sunlamps

• Toaster ovens

• Waffle irons

For fire and safety reasons, the following are not permitted inside Amherst College buildings, academic or residential:

• Overloaded extension cords

• Overloaded electrical outlets

• Outdoor lights

• Decorative lights, improperly installed

Appliances found in violation of these regulations will be confiscated and returned only at the end of the academic year.

• A $25 fee for handling and storage will be charged when the device is returned. The College will dispose of all unclaimed articles after a one-year holding period.

9.33. Confined Spaces and Tunnels

Signs usually identify confined spaces on campus. These signs bear the word “Danger” and identify the spaces as being “Permit Required” or “Non-Permit Required.” Regardless of whether a confined space requires a permit, access to these areas, which can include the steam tunnels, manhole covers, some attics, all crawl spaces and parts of elevators, is prohibited. These areas are or can be extremely hazardous. Once inside, you can become lost or injured or even die. Only trained and authorized personnel are permitted in these spaces.

• Unauthorized “Confined Space” entry can result in criminal prosecution.

9.34. Construction

Students may not construct partitions, subdivide their rooms, construct additions that increase fire loads, install or modify electrical wiring or plumbing or alter “means of egress” (emergency exits). Each of these modifications increases the risk of fire or personal injury accidents.

9.35. Electrical

• Electrical cords must not pass through walls, through floors or above suspended ceilings.

• Electrical cords must not run beneath carpets or across corridors or fire escapes. This type of placement could cause a fire or personal injury accident. If temporary wiring is required, the cord must be run along the wall, not across an aisle or above ceiling tiles. If elevated, cords must be held up with a non- conductive material, such as string or tape, and may not run above a concealed space such as a drop ceiling.

• Electrical and mechanical closets and rooms are hazardous locations. They are not to be used for general storage, and they must be kept clean at all times to reduce the risk of fire.

• Electrical panels shall be properly maintained. In accordance with the Massachusetts Electric Code, there must be at least 3 square feet of space around any and all electrical panels, boxes, disconnects, fuses and other associated equipment.

• Faculty, staff and students who have questions about electrical closets, disconnects, panels, rooms or service should contact the Amherst College Facilities Service Center at (413) 542–2254.

9.36. Elevators

Elevators must be used appropriately to prevent damage. Do not block elevator doors open, such as when moving in or out of a building. Doing so will cause the elevator to stop working and shut down, which will require the recall of the outside elevator company, at the expense of the occupants of the residence hall.

For safety reasons, students should not:

• use arms, legs or any body parts to block, hold or stop the elevator doors from closing.

• block the elevator doors with any object, such as luggage, furniture, etc. Doing so causes elevators to shut down.

• remove lightbulbs or any other fixtures in elevators.

• participate in horseplay or cause excessive movement within elevators.

• push the emergency call button located inside the elevator except in case of an emergency.

In case of an emergency, emergency phones inside the elevators are automatically programmed to contact the Amherst College Police Department when the phones are picked up. 

9.37. Roof and Porch Access

For safety and regulatory reasons, students are not permitted on the balconies, excluding the Valentine balcony, or roofs of Amherst College buildings, including residence halls. Damage to the roofs, unknown structural integrity problems and missing guardrails and handrails make climbing or walking out on roofs very hazardous. Amherst College has indicated, by posting stickers on window sills, that access to roofs is prohibited.

9.38. Security Screens

For the safety of students, security screens have been installed on grade-accessible and roof-level windows or other elevated areas of campus housing.

9.39. Housekeeping

Poor or improper housekeeping practices are the cause of many health, safety and sanitation issues. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety will inspect buildings at least annually and when requested to do so because of a complaint.

Environmental Health and Safety will initially coordinate cleanup efforts with the occupants of the area, building or room. However, if the corrective actions cannot be made by the assigned time, or the conditions warrant immediate response of the custodial department, the cost for cleanup will be assessed to the residence hall or the individual(s) responsible.

9.40. Kitchens

It is the responsibility of the students to properly maintain the kitchens and associated areas of residence halls. Countertops, cupboards, cutting surfaces, dishwashers, floors, ovens, pots and pans, refrigerators, sinks and stoves must be cleaned at least daily to lessen the risk of food-borne illnesses, and to discourage unwanted bugs and rodents. Failure to keep the kitchen area in proper sanitary condition could result in closing the kitchen and/or locking out the stove.

• Prepared foods placed inside the refrigerator must be properly covered in a tightly sealed bag or container, labeled (which have been provided by EH&S) and dated for health reasons.

• Dry goods such as beans, flour, nuts and rice should be packaged in their original containers, and if in bags should be placed into heavy duty plastic containers with tight fitting cover. Cabinets with doors can be provided to prevent rodent access to these food items. Contact EH&S for assistance in acquiring the storage containers.

• Cooking is permitted only in recognized kitchens and kitchenettes on campus, in both academic and residence halls.

• Exhaust fans must be utilized whenever cooking is performed.

• In accordance with the requirements of the Town of Amherst, no grease-producing food—including butter, oils, hamburgers, etc.—may be placed upon a stove, unless the exhaust system above the stove has an approved fire-suppression extinguishing system.

• In accordance with Massachusetts Building Fire and Mechanical Code regulations, stoves that are no longer approved, because of location, exhaust capability or renovations, must be removed, as they are considered to be noncompliant.

• For fire-safety reasons, cooking is not permitted in offices or student rooms.

• Amherst College residence hall kitchens cannot be used to prepare food for sale. The Town of Amherst Board of Health regulates the sale and distribution of baked goods, foods with dairy products and other consumable items that can be considered “potentially hazardous foods.” Any kitchen or other food-preparation area must be inspected and approved by the Town of Amherst before consumable items can be made and sold. Inspections are conducted by Dining Services and/or Environmental Health and Safety. If conditions warrant, the inspectors will notify Student Affairs and request corrective action within a specified time frame. If conditions do not improve, Student Affairs will have the Facilities Department correct the adverse conditions and charge the residence hall for the overtime. If conditions remain uncorrected, the inspectors can ask Student Affairs to temporarily or permanently close down the problem area.

• Typically, the Amherst College Food or Health Inspector will grant a specified period of time for students to clean their respective areas or kitchens. The permitted time shall not exceed 24 hours.

• Cleaning supplies for maintaining the kitchens can be requested from the Custodial Department. Ask your custodian for the supplies, or call (413) 542-2367.

If the area or kitchen is not cleaned or otherwise addressed in the time frame allotted, the kitchen will:

• Be closed and locked by Amherst College Police Department, Environmental Health and Safety or the Facilities Department.

• Be cleaned by the Custodial Department (off-hours) at the expense of the residence hall or individual(s) responsible.

9.41. Laundries

Laundry rooms must be properly maintained to prevent fire, health and sanitation problems.

• Washers should not be overloaded.

• Dryer lint traps must be cleaned after each use.

• Clothing should be dried thoroughly and not left (wet) on the floor or shelf.

Improper use of the equipment, such as overloading the washer or not cleaning out the lint trap, can cause a fire, and leaving wet clothing in the room will cause odors and draw bugs, including silverfish. Damage to a washing machine, a dryer or parts attached to it will result in the individual(s) responsible or residence hall having to pay for repairs.

9.42. Camp, Cooking, and other Outside Fires

Amherst College will permit outdoor camp fires, provided permission has been obtained in advance, through the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. The request must be made in advance by email, at least 2 days before the event, in order to provide additional departments and offices on campus with the necessary information regarding the outdoor fire. Outdoor fires are for camp and cooking fires only. These protocols cannot be used for a bonfire, which requires a fire truck with firefighters and a permit from the Amherst Fire Department. Outdoor camp and cooking fires are for Outing Club functions, health and wellness activities, resident counselor events and other appropriate venues. Outdoor fires will not be permitted for events at which alcohol will be present for fire and safety reasons.

9.42.1. The specific site for the fire must be approved by EH&S. A metal fire pit is recommended over the conventional type campfire. The use of charcoal, lighter fluid and propane gas is prohibited for campfires. Propane can be used for cooking fires, provided the cylinder is approved by the cooking equipment manufacturer.

9.42.2. Outdoor camp and cooking fires can be canceled, even after approval if weather conditions would potentially increase risk of fire spread. Amherst College Police Department, Environmental Health & Safety and/or Student Engagement and Leadership can rescind the approval if weather conditions are not appropriate.

9.42.3. The fire must be attended at all times. The assigned person must have fire extinguisher training, provided or approved by either the Amherst College Police Department or Environmental Health & Safety.

9.42.4. Before starting any camp or cooking fire, a designated representative from the group or organization must notify the Amherst College Police Department at (413) 542-2291.

9.42.5. The event coordinator will be responsible for the health, safety and well-being of the attendees for the duration of the outdoor fire.

9.42.6. The fire should be allowed to consume the wood used for the event, so limit the amount of wood used. When the fire has burned itself out, the event coordinator or designated person (identified by the event coordinator) shall ensure that the fire has been completely extinguished or covered with sand. After the fire is completely extinguished, the event coordinator must notify the Amherst College Campus Police (413) 542-2291 that the fire is out.

9.42.7. Do not empty the coals or embers into any waste container (bag, box, dumpster or trash can), as it will increase the risk of a dumpster or trash can fire. Coals and embers can be placed in the metal containers, which are located near fireplaces. BBQ’s, hibachis, or other fire holding containers must not be stored in or within 25 feet of the building.

9.42.8. Adherence to the above requirements is mandatory. Non-compliance could result in the group or College losing our ability to have any out- door type fires, as regulated by the Amherst Fire Department.

9.42.9. Amherst College Grilling Areas: In an effort to reduce the risk of fire, health and sanitation concerns with regard to the use of grills and the grilling areas on campus, Amherst College has developed a procedure for the use of the grill stations that coincides with other protocols that include, but are not limited to; Camp and Cooking Fire Procedures, Food Allergy Awareness Training, Food Preparation and Safety Training, and Food Preparation for Small Events. In order to utilize the Grilling Area, faculty, staff and students must first obtain permission and the key to unlock the grills from the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership at (413) 542-8317. The request must be made at least 7 days in advance. Persons wishing to cook on the grill for persons other than themselves shall first complete the following online EH&S training sessions;

a. Food Preparation and Safety Training

b. Food Allergy Awareness Training, and to review

c. Food Preparation for Small Events (

d. Person(s) preparing foods shall follow proper hygiene practices referenced in the above documents, which includes aggressive handwashing practices with soap and water

e. Person(s) involved in food preparation at the grill shall not be under the influence of alcohol

f. Person(s) preparing food shall not have open wounds (abrasions, blisters, cuts or sores)

g. Food items being prepared on the grill (after being fully cooked) can be placed (with clean utensils) into a clean aluminum pan/tray (holding tray) for people to take from.

• Selection of grilled items shall be removed from the holding tray using clean utensils

• Items placed into holding tray shall covered/protected from dust, dirt, bugs and other potential causes of contamination

• Items placed into the holding tray shall be rotated to ensure that the first cooked is the first consumed.

• Items that remain in the holding tray shall be discarded after not more than 1½ hours

h. Board of Health requirements prohibit animals (with the exception of “service” dogs) from being in an area where food is being prepared and served. Animals must remain 20 feet from the grill area. In accordance with the requirements of the Camp and Cooking Fire Procedures referenced above, it is possible, even after approval for use, that the use of the grill area may be rescinded for one of the following reasons, as directed by the Amherst Fire Department;

• conditions are too dry to permit an outdoor fire

• conditions may be too windy

• Contact the Amherst College Police Department (413) 542-2291 to confirm appropriate weather conditions. It is the responsibility of the requester to make sure that the area has been properly maintained at the end of the event by performing the following;

• cleaning up the grilling surfaces and the areas around same

• discarding all unwanted food items, condiments and containers

• cleaning the grill racks with the brush/scraper provided

• discarding of the used coals in the “hot coals” waste containers

• relocking the grills to concrete base Failure to clean the area and grill may result in the requester’s having to cover the cost of cleaning the grill and surrounding areas and/or loss of future grill use. Any person(s) using the grilling area and equipment should report any damage or deficiencies to the Amherst College Service Center at (413) 542-2254.