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University Policy 12

Fire Evacuation

Formerly Executive Memorandum 76-28
Initially approved: December 16, 1976
Revised: October 18, 2006
Revised: February 20, 2024

Policy Topic: University Facilities and State Owned Property
Administering office: Facilities Management


It is the policy of Western Carolina University (the “University”) to remain compliant with fire and life safety requirements, through the reporting of fire emergencies and evacuations of University buildings during an emergency event.     


This policy applies to all University students, employees, agents, contractors, and any other persons visiting University Property.


University Property” means any building or facility, campus, instructional site, grounds, recreational areas, athletic fields, or any other property owned, leased, used or operated by the University and/or its Endowment Fund. 

Building” means as any permanent or temporary University structure utilized for the support, shelter or enclosure of people or property.  For illustrative purposes, residence halls, dining halls, classrooms and other academic structures, clinics, laboratories, office and administrative structures, libraries, workshops, gymnasiums, and recreation facilities, including associated spaces such as inside and outside dining areas, vending areas, breezeways, stairwells, and connectors are buildings.  

Pull-station” means a button, lever, or other device in a building used to initiate the fire alarm when manually pulled, pushed, or otherwise activated.

Evacuation” means the immediate egress of persons from a dangerous or potentially dangerous place to a safe place. 

Evacuation Assembly Area (EAA)” means a pre-identified area(s) to which all buildings occupants should report following a building evacuation. 

All Clear” means the immediate danger is over and that most functions may resume normal operations, occupants may re-enter building and/or move about campus without restriction unless specifically directed otherwise.   


Any person discovering a fire or suspecting a fire will notify all building occupants by activating the building’s fire alarm system pull-station, shouting, or any other means available, and immediately call University Emergency Services extension 8911 from a University telephone, 828.227.8911 from a cellular telephone, or 911 to contact Jackson County Emergency Operations Center while in a safe location. University Emergency Services telecommunicator will contact the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center who will dispatch the local fire department. Immediately following, the telecommunicator will notify University Police and Facilities Management personnel.

When reporting a fire, or another emergency, the caller should give the following: (1) caller’s name; (2) the building name; (3) the specific location and cause of the emergency; (4) any other information requested. Remain on the phone until released by the University Emergency Services telecommunicator that you are notifying. The person reporting the fire should meet the responding University Police officer(s) or Fire Department personnel so that any needed details shall be provided.


Upon a fire alarm activation, all occupants must immediately evacuate the building and remain outside.  University departments should proceed to their designated Evacuation Assembly Area (EAA) to which all their department employees report to for accountability purposes.  University Police, Fire Department personnel, or University Officials shall communicate the all clear necessitating it is safe to re-enter the building. 

To ensure proper notice to University Police and Fire Departments, the individual who activates the fire alarm system must also report the fire to University Emergency Services from a safe area.

When the campus fire alarm system produces a signal indicating a possible fire condition, the off-site central fire alarm monitoring service will report this information to the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center, University Emergency Services, and Facilities Management.  Immediately following, Jackson County Emergency Operations Center will dispatch the local fire department. University Emergency Services telecommunicator will notify University Police and Facilities Management will notify their personnel. The Fire Department, with assistance from Facilities Management personnel, will reset the alarm system after the determination that a fire condition does not exist or the fire is extinguished.  An all clear will be audibly communicated to notify building occupants they may re-enter the building. 

All University buildings shall conduct evacuation fire drills as set forth by the North Carolina Fire Prevention Code.     

All residence halls shall conduct an evacuation fire drill within 10 days of the beginning of each semester. Students who fail to evacuate a residence hall when a fire alarm activates are subject to disciplinary action under the WCU Student Code of Conduct.

All individuals are warned that the N.C. General Statute 14-286 makes it unlawful to:

  • Give a false fire alarm
  • Damage or tamper with fire alarm, fire detection, smoke detection or fire extinguishing system
  • Misuse or damage a portable fire extinguisher
  • Or to aid and abet on any of the above

Persons guilty of these acts may be prosecuted and are subject up to a $1,000 fine and imprisonment up to 60 days in addition to University disciplinary action.


People with disabilities requiring assistance to exit a building should notify the nearest responsible faculty or staff member, request notification of emergency response personnel, and/or go to the nearest stairwell or area of refuge. Faculty and staff members should offer assistance to individuals with disabilities in their respective areas with getting to a safe area, while emergency response personnel arrive. It is inadvisable to attempt the transport of a person with impaired mobility, up or down stairs, without emergency responder assistance.


Failure to abide with this Policy shall be considered a violation of University Policy. 


This policy shall be reviewed and revised as necessary every three  (3) years.


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