Students Staff

Fire safety

Stay safe when frying your breakfast! Whether you are cooking breakfast, straightening your hair or using a toaster - if you're living in University-provided accommodation or off-campus in a shared flat, it's important to know how to stay safe to avoid fire hazards.

We ask all students to watch our fire safety video for University residents so that you know what to do in case of a fire, and to help you avoid fire hazards happening in the first place.

Prohibited items

  • Heaters, candles and naked flames

    The use of portable heaters, halogen lamps or heaters, wax melters, candles, tea-lights, aromatic oil heaters, joss sticks or any other device which has a naked flame is prohibited in University owned or administered residential accommodation except with prior written permission. The Fire Safety Officer will give permission only in exceptional circumstances, for example, where candles are used for religious purposes and where the lighting of candles is accepted practice for that form of religious worship.

  • Smoking

    Smoking is strictly prohibited in all University buildings including our residences. Disciplinary action will be taken against offenders, particularly if they have been found to have tampered with smoke detectors, as this puts the safety of students and staff at risk.

Other common causes of fire in residences

  • Cooking

    Fire caused by cooking is the most serious risk to all students living in accommodation. Over the years a number of serious and a substantial number of minor fires have been caused by students cooking.

    The University therefore gives the following advice to all students in accommodation.

    You should not leave cooking unattended. Fires are often caused by oil whilst frying catching fire due to overheating when left unattended. Similarly fires have been caused by fat catching fire when left under grills.

    Grill pans and cookers must be kept free from fat and food debris. Grease and fat residues have caused fires due to overheating particularly when cookers have been left switched on inadvertently and unattended.

    Read instructions on pre-packed food and always remove food wrappings before cooking as these wrappings can ignite and cause fires in cookers.

    If a fire occurs use the fire blanket found in your flat and carefully lay it over the fire. This will control it until expert assistance can be summoned. The fire alarm should always be sounded and the building evacuated. Never remove the fire blanket, leave it to the security staff.

    Minor fires resulting in burnt food only will not warrant sounding the alarm. However, a report must be made to the Information Desk to allow the cookers to be checked for electrical safety before they are put back into use.

    No cooking of any kind is permitted in your room.

  • Electrical equipment

    Take time to read our electrical safety advice as the University has strict rules on the use of electrical items.

  • Heaters

    Take care and do not place any items, including towels or clothing, on the heaters in the kitchen areas as this can be a fire hazard.

Fire alarms and evacuation

  • Automatic fire detection system

    The building is fitted with a sophisticated system. There are interlinked smoke and heat detectors in common areas and individual smoke detector units in bedrooms. These units are necessarily sensitive. Tampering with or damaging the equipment is a disciplinary offence.

    Common causes of false alarms are:

    • smoke from cooking when the kitchen door is wedged open
    • steam from the showers if the door is left open
    • use of aerosols (ie: hairspray / deodorant etc) near detectors
    • use of hairdryers, curling/straightening tongs, etc. near detectors
    • smoking, which is banned in all University accommodation

    Bear in mind that the above will prompt evacuation. You will not be popular with the other residents and you may have to stand outside in the cold and rain for some time and you will be preventing the Fire Service from being able to attend real incidents elsewhere.


    In order to protect students from outbreaks of fire, all doors within residences are fitted with self-closers and the doors are designed to hold smoke and fire back for a minimum of 30 minutes. It is therefore essential that no doors are wedged open and any door that fails to close fully is reported to the SSH for attention.

  • Evacuating your residence

    You are required to evacuate immediately on hearing the fire alarm other than in the first five minutes of a pre-scheduled test. Failure to evacuate immediately is a disciplinary offence usually incurring a £100 fine.

    The notice on the back of your door will tell you where to assemble outside, ensuring we can check that you're safe. It's important for you to know what to do in the event of a fire, so reading our emergency information is advised.

    Please make sure that you have read the terms and conditions of residence as it includes requirements for fire safety.

  • University Square, Southend

    We can confirm that the cladding panels used on University Square are not made of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM), the type used at Grenfell Tower, London.

    We will continue to review information emerging from the tragic fire in London and will undertake further checks and reviews if required.

    If you have any questions please contact the Student Information Team either by email at, or call 01206 874000.

  • Fire Safety in The Towers, Colchester Campus

    Fire Alarm System

    • Each of our accommodation towers at Colchester Campus has a fire detection and alarm system that gives an audible warning throughout each building and in our security office
    • All kitchens have heat detectors linked to the central Fire Alarm Panel
    • Each bedroom has a smoke detector linked to the central Fire Alarm Panel
    • There are manual call points at all exits from the floors. The call points are also linked to the central Fire Alarm Panel
    • There are fire alarm sounders throughout the buildings. These sounders activate if any of the smoke detectors or heat detectors are activated at any part of the building

    Fire Evacuation Process

    • If a fire is detected in any room within our tower blocks all fire sounders are activated on ALL levels
    • EVERYONE must evacuate the relevant tower if the alarm sounds
    • All occupants are informed of the full evacuation policy and fire drills are carried out at the beginning of the academic year
    • Any alarm also sounds in our Information Centre on campus and security officers immediately go to the tower concerned to check and evacuate every room at all levels within the tower block. They have keys and will forcefully evacuate individuals if necessary (If a false alarm is confirmed then it is not necessary to check and evacuate all the rooms)

    Our Colchester Campus has a manned security team on patrol 24/7 that constantly monitor the Campus for any fire alarms.

    Further information about our Colchester Tower buildings

    • All building walls are made of fire resistant materials - engineering bricks with solid concrete floors
    • The stairwells are protected by fire and smoke resisting doors
    • The Towers do not have any external cladding on the buildings

    Our accommodation is no smoking and we have a number of rules to reduce the risk of fire. We also have disciplinary processes to support these rules.

Further information