Fire Safety Policies



Every room has full smoke detection with at least one smoke detector in each room and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors where required. When activated, these devices will sound an alarm locally. All smoke detector alarms report to the Department of Public Safety, which will respond immediately. It is important that you vacate your room when a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector alarm sounds.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Detectors

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas produced when fuels such as wood, gasoline, and heating oil burn incompletely. Fireplaces, gas furnaces, gas stoves, charcoal grills, and other devices that use combustion are potential sources of CO.

Effects of exposure to CO

Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the bloodstream. Individuals suffering from CO poisoning effectively suffocate because, though their breathing is unhindered, they cannot get enough oxygen into the bloodstream. Mild CO poisoning (e.g. exposure to a concentration higher than 400 parts per million for 2-3 hours) feels like the flu, with symptoms including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. Higher exposure can result in disorientation, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, and ultimately death.

How a CO detector works

The carbon monoxide detector installed in your living area measures how much CO has accumulated in parts per million (ppm) and displays a digital readout of the concentration in parts per million (ppm). The monitor takes measurements every 2.5 minutes and sounds an alarm before the concentration of CO becomes high enough for adults to begin to experience symptoms. The alarm sounds when CO levels reach 100 ppm over 90 minutes, 200 ppm over 35 minutes or 400 ppm over 15 minutes.

What do I do if the alarm sounds?

Evacuate immediately. Call 911 from anywhere on campus (even on your cell phone) to reach the Public Safety Communications Center and report the alarm. Do not re-enter the room until instructed to do so by Public Safety, Site Protection, or Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). Public Safety will contact either Site Protection or EHS to measure CO levels and determine the necessary course of action. Each monitor is designed to minimize the possibility of false alarms, so always treat every alarm as a real problem.

May I put furniture in front of the monitor?

The monitor will not function properly if it is covered up. Make sure there are at least a few inches of clearance around the monitor to allow air to flow through it. Do not place large pieces of furniture or bedding in front of it.

How could the monitor be damaged?

The CO monitor is sensitive to extreme temperature, high humidity and liquids. It should not be placed in very hot or very cold areas. Water and cleaning solvents spilled or sprayed onto the monitor can cause damage.

Am I responsible for a damaged or lost monitor?

Housing inspectors will include the CO monitors in their routine inspection. If the monitor is missing or damaged by the resident, the resident will be responsible for the replacement cost of the monitor. If the monitor is left unplugged, the resident may be fined.

Who can I contact for more information?

For information about the CO monitor, contact a Housing inspector. For inquiries about the health effects of carbon monoxide, contact EHS at (609) 258-5294.

Alarm Tampering

A 24-inch clearance must be maintained around smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, and carbon monoxide detectors at all times. Tampering with any component of the smoke detection system, sprinkler system, and/or carbon monoxide detector is prohibited.

Absolutely nothing may be attached to wiring, smoke detectors, sprinkler system components, and/or carbon monoxide detectors. Students will be charged for repair and/or replacement of any detection device, and a fine will be issued to all room occupants with possible disciplinary action by the Dean's Office.

Please refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty.

Nuisance Alarms

The goal of any fire alarm system is to ensure that residents are alerted to a fire early enough to evacuate safely from the building. To ensure that residents will respond to an alarm, the fire alarm system must be reliable and free of nuisance alarms. Nuisance alarms create complacency among residents and can hinder evacuation.

When nuisance alarms occur within a room or suite, refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty.

Candles, Incense, and Flammable Liquids

Candles (decorative or otherwise) and incense are not permitted in any undergraduate or graduate dormitory room, annex, or common space and will be confiscated and immediately discarded. If a candle cannot be easily removed from its holder, container, or receptacle, all parts will be confiscated and disposed of. If unattended lit items are discovered, these items will be extinguished, confiscated, and immediately discarded. Please refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalties.

Alcohol lamps, oil lamps, fireworks (including hand held sparklers, ground based sparklers and novelties), flammable or combustible materials such as gasoline, kerosene, propane, lighter fluid, charcoal products containing accelerants, or similar substances are also not permitted in any student housing unit. When discovered, the item will be confiscated and immediately discarded. Please refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty. Grills are prohibited as is grilling without the permission of the University. Grills discovered on exterior grounds will be confiscated and immediately discarded.

Conference & Event Services Use of Outdoor Space Policy


Both the New Jersey Hotels and Multiple Dwelling Act, as well as University policy, prohibit cooking in dormitory and annex rooms.

Microfridges rented through the Princeton Student Agencies Dorm Furnishings Agency are allowed, but student-owned microwaves are not permitted anywhere in dormitories or annexes. Additional information regarding microfridges is posted on the "Microfridges" section of "Dormitory and Annex Regulations."

If discovered, unauthorized appliances will be confiscated. Please refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty.

Dormitory and Annex Regulations - Microfridges

Egress Doors and Windows

Affixing items

You may not affix anything to a window or egress door (room entry door). This includes stickers, papers, or other decorations. Please refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty.


Egress doors must open fully without hindrance from items in the path of the door swing. If large items such as furniture or boxes are found blocking a door, Fine Schedule #1 applies. If smaller items such as clothing and paper are found, refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty.

Tampering with safety seals on any egress door is prohibited.

Second means of egress

A number of rooms on the upper floors of several dormitories have a second means of egress that is intended for emergency exit. The second means of egress takes two forms:

  • Emergency doors between suites on the same floor leading to a fire door in the adjoining suite
  • An emergency door connecting to a suite on the same floor that has a fire escape

Additional regulations governing emergency exit doors

  • Furniture or impediments may not be placed on either side of any emergency door at any time.
  • The protective glass doorknob cover is a security device and may be broken or removed by students only in a true emergency situation.
  • You will be charged $100 for the replacement or reinstallation of knob covers that are broken or removed unless the Department of Public Safety verifies that an emergency justified such breakage. Tampering with or removing any University-installed seals or breaking glass enclosures is prohibited.
  • The glass doorknob cover that protects the second means of egress can be removed if all students affected by its removal approve. To have the cover removed, contact the Housing Inspection Office at [email protected]. The charge for this service is $50, which absorbs the cost of the cover’s removal and its reinstallation when the current residents vacate.
  • Locks, slide bolts, hooks and eyes, chains, or other devices may not be installed on any emergency door (including individual bedroom doors and those from which the glass cover has been removed) within suites that give access to any emergency door or fire escape serving that suite. The residents of the suite will be charged for the removal of any illegally-installed impediments.
  • Please refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalties.

Electric Wiring

Only University electrical wiring is permitted in dormitory rooms. You may use UL/ETC listed, fused power strips or cubes with surge protection with cords of 12 feet or less; however, you may not use power strips in series to gain greater length.

Electrical cords must not be routed unsafely (under carpets, in pathways, through doorways, taped down, etc). Spliced, taped, or frayed cords must not be used. Electrical wiring which is homemade or otherwise modified is prohibited.

Non-breaker, multi-outlet devices such as adapters, cubes without surge protector, etc. are prohibited. Dimmer switches, ceiling fixtures and ceiling fans may not be installed.

Extension cords of any kind are prohibited from use in all dormitories and annexes.

If any of the above items are discovered, refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty.


Evacuation Placards and Other Safety Signs

Policies governing evacuation placards and other safety signs are posted in the “Evacuation Placards and Other Safety Signs” section under "Dormitory Regulations."

Dormitory and Annex Regulations - Evacuation Placards and Other Safety Signs

Evacuation Procedures

All dormitories and annexes are equipped with an alarm system that has audible and visible alarms and can be activated by manual pull stations or smoke detection. If you hear or see an alarm, evacuate immediately, unless you have specific emergency responsibilities, and go to your designated assembly point. Assembly points are listed at the Princeton University Emergency Preparedness website.

If re-occupancy is not imminent, you will be directed to Dillon Gym. Depending on the severity and scale of the event that triggered the evacuation, Public Safety will implement accounting procedures for residents and you are expected to cooperate in the effort.

During an emergency, students and visitors who may not be familiar with this plan must be informed of the requirement to evacuate. Special attention should also be given to anyone with disabilities, especially those who are visitors or unfamiliar with the building.

Resident College Advisors (RCAs), Dorm Assistants (DAs) and Resident Graduate Students (RGSs)

For the purposes of emergency procedures and evacuations, RCAs, DAs, and RGSs are considered residents only and are not assigned or expected to perform any additional duties. At the designated assembly points, however, RCAs should account for all of their advisees.

Assistance in an evacuation

If you think you might need specialized assistance in recognizing an alarm (i.e. a visual alarm device) or help during an evacuation (i.e. specialized evacuation equipment or alternative egress route planning) due to a medical condition or disability, you may contact your emergency coordinator to arrange for an evaluation. Self-identification is voluntary.

All such requests and any special arrangements made will only be disclosed to Public Safety and individuals who have a responsibility to assist under the plan. Remember that elevators are tied to the fire detection system and are not available to residents once a fire alarm sounds.

For more information on the University's protocols for emergencies and evacuations, please visit the Emergency Preparedness website.

Exterior Elevated Areas

Exterior elevated areas of dormitories -- such as fire escapes, roofs, and parapets -- are intended as a second means of egress in an emergency. Do not place items in these areas at any time or under any circumstances.

Antennae, wires, lights, banners (except for the flag of a country), etc. may not be placed on or affixed to the exterior of any building.

If any of the above items are discovered, refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty.


Fire Evacuation Drills

State law requires regular, unannounced fire drills. Whether drills are conducted during the day or night, full cooperation to quickly and safely evacuate a building is expected.

A student who fails to cooperate or leave the building when a fire alarm sounds is fined $50 and referred to the Dean's Office for disciplinary action.

A student who again fails to leave the building during a subsequent drill may be subject to further disciplinary action and/or may be required to vacate his or her dormitory permanently, with no credit given for the balance of the housing contract.

Fire Extinguisher Tampering

Fire extinguishers may not be removed from their proper locations or discharged unless there is a true fire emergency. Anyone found tampering with a fire extinguisher will be fined $100 per extinguisher or per student, whichever is greater. Violators also face possible disciplinary action by the Dean’s Office.

Building Services maintains and services portable fire extinguishers; report vandalism and/or discharged fire extinguishers to the Facilities Customer Service Center at 609.258.8000 or submit an online service request at the Facilities Customer Service Center website.

Heat Producing Electrical Appliance


The Policy

Heat-producing electric appliances are not permitted in University dormitories or annexes, including student rooms, except for certain authorized items. The only exceptions to this rule are locked, limited-access kitchens, locked cabinets in open kitchens, and the private kitchens in some suites.

Appliances in sealed cartons will incur a warning on the first inspection. Their continued presence during subsequent inspections will incur a $100 fine. This fine can be incurred whether it is the originally-cited appliance or a different appliance in a sealed carton.

Authorized heat-producing appliances may not be left on while unattended or used in any hazardous manner. Authorized items are irons, electric blankets, hair dryers, hair curlers, clothes steamers, certain coffee makers, kettles, hot air corn poppers, and iced tea makers. All approved heat-producing appliances must be plugged directly into a wall outlet.

If discovered, unauthorized appliances will be confiscated. Please refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty. Any confiscated items may be reclaimed one week prior to the break period/during the break period to be directly taken off campus. Any unclaimed confiscated items are donated or discarded on July 1.

If authorized heat-producing electric appliances (irons, electric blankets, hair dryers, hair curlers, clothes steamers, and designated models of kettles, popcorn poppers, and coffee makers) are misused, refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty.

Selection Criteria

The list of authorized heat-producing appliances is posted in the following section of this website.

You may submit a heat-producing electric appliance to HRES for possible placement on the University's list of authorized heat-producing electric appliances. For consideration, contact Christopher Warkala, Senior Manager for Housing Facilities, at [email protected] or 609.258.7638 to make an appointment to bring the appliance to him. Disassembly of the appliance may be required to examine it.

If you request an appliance to be examined after it has been confiscated, the fine for the confiscation will stand since the appliance was not on the list at the time of confiscation.

When looking at heat-producing electric appliances for acceptance to the authorized list, the University requires all such appliances to have both a thermostat and an in-line fuse. This requirement is in place to ensure that the appliance will turn off if a problem arises. The thermostat controls the temperature that the appliance can reach. The in-line fuse acts as a back up to the thermostat that will shut down the appliance if the thermostat fails.

List of Approved Heat-Producing Electrical Appliances

All approved heat-producing appliances must be plugged directly into a wall outlet.

Authorized Appliance List

  • Miscellaneous appliances
    • Irons
    • Electric blankets
    • Hair dryers
    • Hair curlers
    • Clothes steamers
  • Tea kettles
  • Hot-air popcorn poppers
  • Coffee makers
  • Cappuccino makers
  • Espresso makers
  • Iced Tea makers
  • Cocoa-Latte Hot Drink Maker
  • Milk frother
  • Water Dispensers (hot or cold)

Unauthorized Appliances

If found, any of the following appliances will be confiscated and the student will be fined.

  • Microwaves
  • Rice cookers
  • Toasters
  • Toaster ovens
  • Crock-Pot
  • Instant Pot and comparable devices
  • Pressure cooker
  • Grills (electric, charcoal, gas)
  • Sandwich makers (such as a panini press, quesadilla maker, and such like)
  • Electric frypans and griddles
  • Portable heaters
  • Food steamers
  • Deep fryers
  • Air fryers
  • Hot plates
  • Waffle makers
  • Personal air conditioners
  • Washer and dryer machines
  • Dishwashers

Holiday Decorations

Live trees (cut or balled), wreaths made from pine boughs, untreated bunting, and other flammable decorations are not permitted.

If discovered, please refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty. The live tree is to be removed by the next business day. If not, it will be removed at your expense. All other unauthorized holiday decorations will be removed immediately and discarded.

Motorized Vehicles

Motorized vehicles (motor-bikes, mopeds, motorcycles, and scooters) with fuel tanks may not be stored or parked in or near a dormitory.

Other Hazardous Conditions

Hazardous conditions not anticipated by specific reference in the Fire Safety Policy are prohibited. When hazardous conditions are identified, you will be given an opportunity to correct them before any fine is assessed. However, if the conditions present a clear and present danger, immediate appropriate action will be taken and a fine imposed accordingly.

Partitions and Paneling

You may not install partitions and/or paneling. If discovered, refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty.

Refrigerators and Freezers

Policies governing refrigerators and freezers in dorms and annexes are posted in the “Refrigerators and Freezers” section under "Dormitory Regulations."

Dormitory and Annex Regulations - Refrigerators and Freezers

Room Entry and Fire Doors - Impeding Closure

Policies governing room entry and fire doors are posted in the “Doors and Screens” section under "Dormitory and Annex Regulations."

Dormitory and Annex Regulations - Doors and Screens

Unsanitary and Excessively Disorderly Conditions

Excessively disorderly conditions and the storage of excessive amounts of paper, trash, or recyclables are not permitted. Trash and recycling containers should be kept in your room or suite and only be placed in hallways for disposal.

If discovered, refer to the Fine Schedules for the relevant penalty.

Wall Hangings and Tapestries

Policies governing tapestries and other wall hangings are posted in the “Room Decorations” section under "Dormitory Regulations."

Dormitory Regulations - Room Decorations