Means of Egress

Means of egress is another name for any exit from a building. Means of egress at Virginia Tech include hallways, stairwells, and doors over which an exit sign is placed. Emergency evacuation route signs have been placed in the residence halls to direct residents to exits in case of an emergency. Obstructing these means of egress is forbidden and can be dangerous or life threatening. The Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code states in section F-604.1:

"The means of egress from each part of the structure, including exits, stairways, egress doors and any panic hardware installed thereon, aisles, corridors, passageways, and similar elements of the means of egress, shall at all times be maintained in a safe condition and available for immediate utilization and free of all obstructions."

The code also states in section F-606.1:

"An exit shall not be utilized for any purpose that interferes with its function as a means of egress."

Bicycles, trash, furniture, boxes, and similar items may not be placed in hallways or stairwells at any time.

Evacuation Procedure

The Blacksburg Fire Department responds to all fire alarms. All occupants must exit the building whenever a fire alarm sounds, regardless of the cause. When the general fire alarm sounds in your building, feel your room door. If cool, leave immediately, close the door, and proceed quickly and in an orderly fashion to the nearest exit. Stay out of the building until given the "all clear" signal by emergency personnel or housing and residence life staff. Failure to evacuate properly during a fire alarm is a serious breach of university policy. Use stairwells in the event of fire. Do not use elevators, which might become inoperable and trap occupants. Stairwell doors in residence halls are fire doors and must remain closed at all times. Never prop them open, especially when evacuating. If the door is hot, remain in the room, put towels or other material under the door, open the window from the top, and call 911.

In the event of fire emergency/alarm:

  1. Keep your door keys handy, so you can easily grab them in the event of an emergency.
  2. Feel the door with the back of your hand. If the door is cool, leave your room, close the door behind you, and proceed to the nearest exit. If your door is hot, go your room window and signal for help. Dial 911 and report your location.
  3. If you see smoke or flame and the alarm is not sounding, pull the closest fire alarm and leave the building.
  4. Stay close to the floor while escaping from a burning building. If smoke is present in the hallway or stairwell, remain close to the floor. Keep your mouth and nose covered with a wet cloth.
  5. Do not use elevators during a fire alarm.
  6. If you are unable to evacuate without special assistance or a modified plan, contact services for students with disabilities or housing and residence life.

If you discover or suspect a fire

  • Sound the building fire alarm
  • Notify other occupants by knocking on doors and shouting, "Fire!" as you exit the building
  • Leave the building and move at least 50 feet away, out of the way of the fire department, all occupants must exit the building whenever a fire alarm sounds, regardless of the cause
  • Call emergency services by dialing 911 or using an emergency phone