Contact Us
Don Abramowitz, CIH
Environmental Health &
Safety Officer
(610) 526-5166
Ward Building

Emergency Response Guide

The Department of Campus Safety is the first contact and first responder for all campus emergencies.

  • To reach Campus Safety, dial 7911 from any campus telephone 24 hours a day. Do not first dial "9" for an outside line.

  • Dial 610-526-7911 from off-campus or cellular phone.

Why call Campus Safety first?

Dialing 911 from a non-campus phone will reach the county emergency services dispatcher, which is less desirable because calling Campus Safety will provide faster fire, ambulance and police response. Outside responders will not be familiar with the names, locations or fastest routes to particular buildings. When you call Campus Safety, they will send immediate assistance, call outside emergency responders for you and direct them to the scene.

General Emergency Response

The time to become familiar with emergency procedures is before an emergency.

Please take time to familiarize yourself with the following information. It is intended to explain our various safety and communication systems and to help you respond to an on-campus emergency. Circumstances of specific emergencies vary and case-by-case judgment is always required.

When Calling About Any Emergency

  • Give your name (confidentiality will be respected).

  • Give your extension.

  • Give the building name and room number or other specific location.

  • Describe the condition clearly and accurately.

  • Don't hang up! You may be an important link in an emergency. Other information may be needed and special instructions may be provided. Let the person you are talking to end the conversation.

Communications During A Serious Emergency

In the event of a serious emergency or weather event, information will be posted on the College's emergency message hotline, 610-526-7310 to keep you updated about the impact on the community and to announce any closures or cancellations. Please call this number before calling the Campus Safety dispatcher, if you are seeking information.

The College may also use broadcast e-mails and/or broadcast voice-mail messages (message left in all voice-mail boxes), to inform and update the on-campus community. Note that broadcast voice mail messages may not light the "message light" on the telephone when sent, so it is important to check your voice mail and e-mail regularly during an emergency. In case of an extended or severe emergency, information will also be posted on the College's web site,

General Building Evacuation

  • Fire alarms will be used to sound a building evacuation.

  • Walk quickly; do not run.

  • Exit via stairways. Do not use elevators. You may be trapped or let out into a danger area.

  • Seek out and give assistance to any disabled persons in the area, if you can do so safely. If you cannot assist, alert emergency responders to the situation.

  • Follow instructions of Campus Safety Officers or other properly identified emergency personnel.

  • If time permits:
    • Turn off electrical appliances.
    • Close room doors behind you.
    • Bring your keys with you.

  • Go to an open outside area, away from the building. Gather with other people leaving the building, keeping paths clear for emergency vehicles. Remain with the group so that occupants can be accounted for.

  • Wait for instructions from emergency personnel. Do not re-enter the building until allowed to do so by Campus Safety Officers.

SAFETY TIP: In emergencies, people tend to try to exit buildings by the same route they entered, even when that exit is blocked. Learn the alternate exit routes from buildings you regularly occupy.

Evacuating People With Disabilities

People with disabilities are advised to be prepared for emergencies. Locate and remember important areas in buildings you frequent including exits, exit routes, areas of rescue assistance, stairways, elevators and telephones. Individuals who will need assistance leaving a building during an emergency are advised to identify in advance someone nearby who can assist you. You should discuss with that person a plan for leaving the building and/or informing emergency personnel of your presence and location so that assistance can be provided.

Resident students are urged to contact the Coordinator of Access Services at (610) 526-7351 each semester and request that Campus Safety be informed about your identity and campus residence so assistance can be provided should an emergency occur. You should also inform Residential Life staff in advance about your need for assistance in the event of an emergency in the dormitory. If you need assistance to evacuate, you should identify two individuals (e.g., one HA and one student) on your hall beforehand who can assist you and who will inform emergency personnel of your presence in the hall. Discuss with these individuals in advance the specific nature of the assistance you may need.

Employees are also encouraged to contact the Coordinator of Access Services at the above number to identify any particular needs and to request that Campus Safety be informed about your identity and regular work location(s) should emergency assistance be needed.

During an emergency, people with conditions affecting their ability to evacuate a building should take the following steps:

  • If a campus phone is available, dial 7911 for Campus Safety, state your location and situation. If using a cellular phone, dial 610-526-7911 to reach Campus Safety.

  • Do not use elevators, which may shut down in emergency situations. Rescue personnel will determine whether circumstances warrant the evacuation of a person who is nonambulatory.

  • Ask for assistance to exit the building, if possible, or to go to one of the following locations: the designated Area of Rescue Assistance, the nearest stairwell with doors that separate the stairs from the hall, or a room with a door and exterior window near a stairway.

  • Note the room number or other identifying features of your location. Ask someone leaving the building to notify emergency personnel of your location and situation.

Seeking Shelter

Severe weather, such as a tornado (rare, but occasionally occurs in this area), or other emergencies may require seeking shelter within buildings. If conditions indicate or if you are instructed to do so:

  • Seek shelter in the lowest levels of buildings or an interior hallway, remaining clear of exterior windows and doors.

  • Keep away from overhead fixtures, filing cabinets and book shelves.

  • Exit auditoriums, gymnasiums and other rooms with wide free-span roofs, and seek shelter elsewhere in the building.

  • In general, do not leave the building until instructed to do so by emergency personnel.

  • Upon leaving a building, be alert for debris, power lines, gas leaks and other safety hazards.

Responding To Fire

Heat and toxic smoke from fire build up with surprising speed, quickly blocking escape paths. Few people are burned to death in fires; most die from smoke inhalation. Taking fire alarms seriously and exiting buildings quickly are essential to your survival.

There is no such thing as a fireproof building. Buildings made of stone or concrete present a risk when their contents burn.

For information on fires in science laboratories, please refer to the Bryn Mawr College Laboratory Emergency Guide, available in the science departments.

If A Fire Starts In Your Room, Office, Etc.

  • Leave the room and close the door behind you to keep smoke and flames out of the hall.

  • Sound the fire alarm by activating the nearest pull station, and leave the building by the closest exit. (Note: In residence halls, pull the alarm to alert others even if there is an individual smoke detector in the room, as the closed door will delay activation of the central alarm.)

  • Call Campus Safety from a safe location.

If You Hear A Fire Alarm

  • Go to the door of your room and feel the door with your hand.

  • If the door or the knob is hot, leave it shut. (See next section: "If the room door is hot...")

  • Check the hall. If you can leave safely, take your keys with you, close the door behind you and go to the nearest clear exit. Use an alternate route if your path is blocked at any point.

  • Do not use the elevator. You could be trapped or let out into a fire area.

  • If it is impossible to exit the building, it may be safer to return to your room. (This is why taking keys is important.)


SAFETY TIP: The rule children are taught about crawling under smoke really works. If smoke blocks your path, there is often cleaner, cooler air nearer the floor level. Don't stand. Smoke and deadly gases rise.

If The Room Door Is Hot, Or You Are Forced Back To Your Room By Smoke

This is the choice of last resort. Make every effort to leave the building at the first alarm or other evidence of fire.

  • Let someone know you are in the room. If the phone works, call Campus Safety.

  • If your window can be opened, hang a bedsheet or similar item out the window to signal the fire department, but close the window against smoke if necessary.

  • Seal openings around hallway doors with cloth items (towels or sheets if available). If there is a source of water, keep towels and door wet.

Get The Fire Department On Scene Fast

Smoke detectors and pull stations are subject to false alarms such as overcooked popcorn in a microwave oven or a deliberate pull station activation. Unless Campus Safety has some evidence that a fire actually exists, they must dispatch an officer to the building to determine whether an alarm represents an emergency before calling the fire department.

Although Campus Safety will respond to any alarm as quickly as possible, to speed the arrival of fire trucks, call Campus Safety (from a safe location) and tell them you see fire or smoke. They will immediately summon the fire department and direct them to the location.

SAFETY TIP: When a fire occurs in a large building, valuable response time can be lost because everyone evacuating may assume that someone else called in the fire. Upon exiting a building in a fire emergency, call Campus Safety unless you know that the call was already made.

Should I Try To Put Out The Fire?

Fight a fire only if it is small and you believe you can put it out without risking your safety.

If the fire is small and :

  • an extinguisher is readily available,

  • you are familiar with its operation,

  • you can fight the fire without blocking your exit path

  • the extinguisher is compatible with what's burning (e.g., flammable liquids or live electric equipment, see below) Then attempt to extinguish the fire.

Generally, extinguishers are placed so that you must leave the immediate fire area, then decide whether it is safe to go back to fight the fire.

As a rule of thumb, an unconfined, small fire will render a typically furnished room intolerable to enter in about 30 seconds. Do not re-enter a room that is smoke-filled.

SAFETY TIP: The first priority in responding to a fire is preservation of life. No one is obliged to fight a fire.

Fire Extinguisher Operation

  • Remove the fire extinguisher from its supporting bracket or cabinet carefully; extinguishers are surprisingly heavy. The lower handle on the valve will support the extinguisher when carried.

  • Remove the pin from the handle by pulling the ring, breaking the plastic tamper-evident seal.

  • Aim the nozzle at the base of the flames, squeeze the handles together, and sweep the nozzle slowly from side to side, across the width of the flames until the fire is extinguished or the extinguisher is empty. You may repeatedly start and stop the flow of the extinguisher by squeezing and releasing the top handle.

  • Start well back from the fire, walking into the "throw range" of the extinguisher. (See below).

  • If a fire is not successfully controlled with one extinguisher, you should leave immediately.

Call Campus Safety, even if you successfully extinguish the fire.

Once the pin has been removed from a fire extinguisher, the extinguisher must be replaced, even if the extinguisher wasn't used. Call Campus Safety for immediate replacement.

Compatibility Of Extinguishers And Fires

Multipurpose dry chemical extinguishers (usually red) are safe and effective against all ordinary types of fires). The extinguishing agent, a fine powder, will travel about 10 feet when discharged

Pressurized water extinguishers (shiny stainless steel,) are effective only against ordinary combustibles, such as paper, wood, fabric, trash, etc. They must never be used on flammable liquid/oil fires or fires involving live electrical circuits. Pressurized water units will propel a water stream about 25 to 30 feet.

Carbon dioxide extinguishers (red, cone-shaped black nozzle, no pressure gauge) work only against flammable liquid fires and are safe to use around live electrical circuits. They will not extinguish fires involving ordinary combustibles and must be discharged within about 3 feet of flames to be effective. They are rarely found outside of laboratory buildings.

SAFETY TIP: Learn the location and types of extinguishers in your building.

Helping A Person With Clothing Or Hair On Fire

"Stop, Drop and Roll":.

  • You must immediately get the person flat on the ground. Do not allow her or him to run.

  • Extinguish the flames by rolling the person on the ground. A jacket or blanket may be used to help smother the flames if immediately available.

  • Seconds count. Do not waste time looking for an extinguisher or water source.

  • Douse the person with water as soon thereafter as possible. Do not attempt to remove burned clothing.

  • Call Campus Safety.

Fire Alarms And How They Work

Fire evacuation alarms may be activated by smoke detectors, heat detectors, manual pull stations or the flow of water through sprinkler heads. No matter what triggers the alarm, the fire bells, horns and/or flashing strobes will look and sound the same within a particular building.

Smoke/heat detectors. Detectors respond quickly to low levels of combustion products and/or rapid temperature increases, and offer critical evacuation time if you respond quickly to their alarms. In general, detectors in campus buildings sound the entire building's evacuation alarms and alert Campus Safety via a central alarm system wired to each building.

Special case - residence halls. Smoke detectors inside individual sleeping rooms operate independently of the central building system. The central system has detectors in hallways and common areas. When any of these detectors is activated, the evacuation alarms sound throughout the building and Campus Safety is alerted. The smoke detectors in individual rooms sound only at the detector, to notify a sleeping occupant of fire smoke within that room. They do not alert Campus Safety. If a fire should occur within your room, it is essential to manually activate a pull station to warn others as quickly as possible.

Sprinklered Buildings. Sprinkler heads are activated by heat (about 170° F), and only the heated sprinkler heads open. Sprinklers are very effective in containing fires, but they do not prevent the spread of dangerous smoke, so rapid evacuation of sprinklered buildings remains essential. The flow of water through a sprinkler system will activate building evacuation alarms and alert Campus Safety.

The following buildings are fully sprinklered:

Benham Gateway; Bettws-y-Coed; Brecon; Cambrian Row; Campus Center; Carpenter Library; Child Study Institute (Little West House); Dalton; Denbigh; Glenmede (main house); Guild; Human Resources; Merion; Pembroke East; West and Arch; Radnor; Rhoads; Rockefeller; Thomas; and Ward.

Some additional buildings contain partial sprinkler systems.

Pull Stations. Manual pull stations in buildings activate the building evacuation alarms and alert Campus Safety when activated. Pull stations should be tripped if a fire is observed or strongly suspected. Take a moment to identify and learn how to operate the pull stations in your building.

Fire Safety Precautions

  • Self-closing doors need to close. Do not block open doors to stairwells or doors that divide long hallways. Closed fire doors significantly slow the spread of smoke.

  • Self-closing doors equipped with magnetic door holders may be left open. The magnets will release, allowing the doors to close, when the fire evacuation alarm is activated. Do not let objects block the swing path of doors with magnetic catches.

  • Don't overload outlets with multiple outlet cords or plugs. If additional outlets are required, use a UL-approved multi-outlet "power strip" with its own built-in circuit breaker.

  • Careless smoking, use of candles and incense, and unattended cooking appliances remain major causes of fatal fires in residential buildings. Smoking is prohibited in all buildings.

  • Keep walkways, stairwells and exits free from obstructions at all times.

  • Report non-illuminated exit signs, damaged fire equipment and other fire hazards to Campus Safety.

Other Emergencies

Injury or Illness

Immediately call Campus Safety.

Note any medical alert information that may be present on jewelry, and report it to the dispatcher.

Do not move an injured person unless absolutely necessary.

Stay with the victim and assist as necessary until help arrives.

Note: Work-related injuries or illnesses must be reported to the employee's supervisor and the Environmental Health & Safety Office as soon as possible.

Hazardous Material Spill/Release

Report hazardous material/chemical spills or releases to Campus Safety. Try to describe the conditions and identify the material to the dispatcher.

For spills in laboratories, refer to the Bryn Mawr College Laboratory Emergency Guide for additional instructions.

Elsewhere, do not attempt to clean up spills of materials you believe to be hazardous. Indoors: Close doors to the spill area and turn off sources of ignition. Leave the area immediately and call Campus Safety.

Outdoors: If a vehicle leaks fuel , turn off the engine and direct other vehicles away from the spill area because vehicle engines may be a source of ignition. Stay upwind of any outdoor spill or release to the air. Call Campus Safety.

Eye or skin contact: If a hazardous material spills/splashes on skin or eyes, flush the affected area immediately with running water. Have someone call Campus Safety. Continue rinsing the skin or eyes until help arrives.

Power or Other Utility Failure

Contact Campus Safety if the outage presents an emergency requiring immediate response. Call 7310 for updates as to when power is expected to be restored.

Turn off appliances and computer equipment to prevent damage by voltage spikes or surges that may occur when power is restored.

Candles, lighters and other open flame devices should never be used during a power failure Keep a flashlight in a convenient location.

If people are stuck in an elevator, tell them you will get help, contact Campus Safety and stay with them until help arrives.

Gas Leak

Extinguish open flames, turn off appliances, open windows and leave the area. Call Campus Safety from a safe location.


The topography of the campus is such that flooding of buildings is much more likely to occur due to plumbing or drainage system failures than from rising surface waters. If you observe standing or flowing water in a building, notify Campus Safety. Avoid all contact with the water because it presents a serious risk of electric shock and may be contaminated.