Fire and Life Safety

The Offices of Environmental Health and Safety, Facilities Management, Public Safety and Service and Student Life work closely with South Hadley Fire District 2 to establish fire safety policies and procedures in line with State and local building codes, Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (DFS) regulations and the requirements and recommendations of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and other agencies.

Violation of any fire safety policy is serious and could put others at risk.  We must all be mindful that our actions can have impacts beyond our individual selves - everyone on College property must follow these requirements to keep the MHC community safe. 

If you have questions, please contact  Report all emergencies immediately to Public Safety and Service: 413-538-2304. 

AED and Opioid Rescue

Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) are medical devices used to help individuals that are  experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. They work by analyzing the heart's rhythm and delivering an electrical shock (defibrillation), if needed, to help the heart reestablish an effective rhythm.  

Public Safety and Service and South Hadley Fire District 2 have a very rapid response time in medical emergencies. AEDs are placed in certain areas according to Massachusetts law and the recommendations of Public Safety and Service, the College Medical Director, South Hadley Fire District 2 Officials and other campus partners and public health and safety agencies. The AED device gives step-by-step instructions to users and will not deliver a shock unless it is necessary.  To learn more, watch the American Red Cross video: Using an AED.

Opioid Rescue Kits containing Narcan/ naloxone to counteract an overdose are located near the public access AEDs in some College buildings.   (Note that ‘naloxone’ is the generic name for Narcan).  For more information, visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s  Stop an Overdose with Naloxone website.    


Location of AED

*Blanchard Hall Community Center

Lower entrance by the Dining Commons

*(this location has a NaloxBox Opioid Rescue Kit)

Community Boathouse

(240 Ferry Street)

Main floor

Equestrian Center 

Main hallway by the offices

*Facilities Management: Otto C. Kohler Complex (47 Morgan Street)

1st floor hallway by rooms 113 and 114

*(this location has a NaloxBox Opioid Rescue Kit)

Groves Health Center

Urgent Care Room

Kendall Sports & Dance Complex

1st floor by the Fitness Center

*Mary Woolley Hall

1st floor by the main entrance

*(this location has a NaloxBox Opioid Rescue Kit)

Additionally, the Athletic Trainers (AT) have an AED on site at all sporting events and Public Safety and Service carries AEDs and Narcan/ naloxone in all cruisers.  

Any department that wants to place an AED in their area must first contact Public Safety and Service: 413-538-2304.  Departments are responsible for all costs associated with the AED, including purchase of the device, all required maintenance, supplies and training costs. 

AEDs must be inspected monthly.  Inspection items include:   

  • Test the AED cabinet/container tamper alarm
  • Check the unit's status indicator
  • Verify that theelectrode pads are present (not expired) and that there is an extra set of electrode pads
  • Note battery installation date and verify that it is not expired  
  • Inspect the PPE ready kit and verify that mask, scissors, razor, and gloves are present 
  • Verify that all AED components appear to be in good condition
  • Verify that access to the AED is not blocked or obstructed by items
  • Immediately report problems, observations of tampering or any other concerns to Public Safety and Service

NaloxBox Opioid Rescue Kits should also be inspected monthly.  Inspection items include: 

  • Verify that all four (4) units of naloxone nasal spray are present and that they are not expired - note that all units in the kit may not have the same expiration date
  • Verify that the Rescue Breathing kit is present and complete with CPR mask barrier device, gloves and alcohol pads (not expired) 
  • Verify that the instruction guide (English/Spanish) on how to recognize and respond to a suspected overdose is in place
  • Verify that all kit components appear to be in good condition
  • Verify that access to the kit is not blocked or obstructed by items
  • Immediately report missing items, observations of tampering or any other concerns to Public Safety and Service

If you have questions or would like to learn more about MHC’s AED and Opioid Rescue Programs, please contact Public safety and Service: 413-538-2304.  

Candles and other Products Using Open Flame

Candles, incense or any other items with lit wicks or that otherwise burn are prohibited indoors at Mount Holyoke College.  Birthday cakes and religious ceremonies are the only two exceptions where candles may be used indoors with strict adherence to the following:

  • Birthday candles

    • Birthday candles on birthday cakes are permissible in academic, administrative and conference spaces

      • candles (even unlit ones) are not permitted in any residence hall living space

    • Candles must be placed in the cake prior to lighting and the cake must remain stationary on a sturdy, flat surface once the candles are lit

    • Moving a cake with lit candles, or transferring lit candles from person to person are prohibited

    • Once the candles and any matches used to light them are fully extinguished, they must be set aside to cool, then doused in water prior to putting in the trash – never put hot candles or matches directly into the trash

    • Contact Public Safety and Service in any emergency: 413-538-2304

  • Religious ceremonies

    • Candles may be approved for religious events if a safer alternative is not acceptable according to religious doctrine

    • Event coordinators must designate an individual that will be present and responsible for ensuring candle safety for the entirety of the event and submit a request a minimum of 7 days in advance of the event:

    • If approved, the following conditions are required: 

      • Ensure that all exit paths are kept clear and that access to safety equipment (fire extinguisher, alarm pull panel) are not obstructed

      • All candles, including the flame must be fully contained in a glass or metal container that will not easily tip over

      • Candles must be placed on a sturdy surface, away from decorations and other combustible materials – a minimum of one foot of clearance on all sides of the candle is required

      • Lit candles cannot be transferred from person to person, or carried from place to place

      • Candles cannot be left unattended at any time

    • When the event has come to its conclusion, the responsible person must ensure that all candles and any matches used to light them are fully extinguished, set aside to cool, then doused in water prior to putting in the trash – never put hot candles or matches directly into the trash

    • Any candles that will be reused must be completely cool before putting away – never move hot candles directly to storage

    • Contact Public Safety and Service in any emergency: 413-538-2304

Whenever possible, the College will require that safer alternatives, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-listed electric or battery-operated flameless candles be used in place of lit flame candles.


Smoking is not allowed by anyone on property owned or managed by the College anywhere, indoors or outdoors, including inside personal vehicles located on College roadways or parking lots. All tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, all forms of smokeless tobacco, vaping and electronic cigarettes, tobacco and tobacco products, and any substance burned for the purpose of inhalation are strictly prohibited. This also includes cannabis, which is already prohibited by law anywhere within the College boundaries.

Religious exceptions may apply for the ceremonial and ritual purposes observed by Indigenous Peoples.

Learn more by reviewing the College’s Smoke and Tobacco Free Campus Policy.

Fire Pit

The fire pit is on Lower Lake road near Pratt Hall, across the street from the Blanchard Community Center patio.  Pre Approval is required and the fire pit must be reserved a minimum of 7 days in advance.  College Employees and Student Organizations can request a reservation by submitting an Office of Events Services Campus Space Request Form.  Individual students must submit requests via the Office of Student Involvement’s  Fire Pit Reservation Request for Individuals form. 

 If a fire pit event reservation is approved, the following procedures must be followed:

  • Pick up the fire safety kit from the Information Desk in Blanchard right before your gathering – at that time, you must review and sign the Fire Pit Usage Agreement and Fire Permit that will be provided by Info Desk Staff

  • Fires are not permitted on windy days

  • The water pump sprayer must be at the fire pit, filled and tested prior to lighting the fire

  • The outdoor spigot on the side of Pratt Hall can be used to fill the sprayer – only clean water from a building or bottled source can be used in the sprayer – do not collect lake water for this purpose

  • The fire can not be left unattended at any time

  • Only kindling provided in the fire kit and wood supplied by Facilities Management in the storage box can be used - Do not bring or gather wood from campus or anywhere else and do not burn any other materials

  • At the conclusion of the event, be sure the fire is fully extinguished – verify that there is no smoke or heat emanating from the pit and there are no glowing embers

  • Return the fire safety kit to the Information Desk immediately after the gathering ends

  • The responsible individual must have a functioning cell phone with them for the duration of the event

  • Call Public Safety and Service in any emergency: 413-538-2304

With the exception of approved events at the fire pit, outdoor campfires and cooking fires are prohibited on College property. Questions about the fire pit should be sent to  


Dining Services uses grills for cooking at outdoor events.  Grills of any kind are otherwise not permitted to be used or stored on campus. 

Staff and faculty that live in College houses (not in-residence hall apartments) are permitted to own and use grills in the yard of their residence.  Grills cannot be used on any porch, deck or balcony with a roof or overhang.  Grills can only be used if they are a minimum of 10-feet from the house and other structures and all MA DFS Grilling Safety Guidelines are followed.

E-bikes, hoverboards and other personal transport

The possession, storage, and use of hoverboards, segways, e-bikes, e-scooters, and/or any electric personal transportation vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries are not permitted by students or employees in any indoor space on campus.   Students should also check the Office of Residential Life’s What Not to Bring list for other prohibited items before coming to campus.

Individuals that require an exception to this policy must have an approved accommodation in place.  Students must contact Disability Services and Employees should contact Human Resources

With the exception of personal transportation devices for those with approved accommodations and certain equipment that may be used by Facilities Management, Public Safety and Service, the Alumnae Association and Conferences and Events Services, charging a lithium-ion powered personal vehicle anywhere on College property is prohibited.

Battery Recharging

Laptops, cell phones and all other devices powered by rechargeable batteries should be handled with care.  The following safety practices should be followed: 

  • Check for Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rating and only use the manufacturer’s cord and power adapter made specifically for that device

  • Charge and store in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place

  •  Do not charge devices in direct sunlight, under pillows, on beds or upholstered surfaces

  •  Do not continue charging the device after it is fully charged

  • Keep batteries at room temperature when possible - do not charge them at temperatures below 32°F (0°C) or above 105°F (40°C)

  • Store batteries away from anything that can catch fire

  • Immediately stop using the device if you notice bulging, excessive heat, leaking or an odor

  • Call Public Safety and Service for all emergencies: 413-538-2304

Electrical Cords and Equipment

Electrical cords and equipment should be inspected and handled with care.  The following safety practices should be followed: 


  • Inspect cords and equipment before use – never use damaged cords or equipment

  • Never use electrical equipment near water unless it is plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)

  • Electrical cords must not pass through walls, floors or above suspended ceilings

  • Electrical cords must not run beneath carpets or across corridors or fire escape routes

  • Temporary power cords must be run along a wall, not across an aisle or above ceiling tiles

    • Cords must be held up with a nonconductive material, such as string or tape, and may not run above a concealed space such as a drop ceiling

  • Electrical and mechanical rooms must be kept locked and can be accessed by authorized Facilities Management and Public Safety and Service personnel only – Storage of items in these spaces is prohibited

  • Facilities Management maintains all electrical panels – these areas must be kept clear and remain accessible at all times

 Immediately report any problem with building electrical equipment to Facilities Management: 413-538-2012.  Call Public Safety and Service for all emergencies: 413-538-2304.

Electric Vehicle Charging

Mount Holyoke College has installed Level 2 AC electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Gorse Lot.  Any employee, student or visitor that wishes to charge their EV on College property may do so at these stations ONLY. 

Though you may have a Level 1 charger from the manufacturer that works in ‘regular’ household 120-volt outlets, charging an EV at any College building (on campus or off) or College housing is prohibited.   EVs draw significant power and could cause breakers to trip, damage equipment or cause a fire.  Level 2 charging cables that plug into 240-volt outlets (like the type a clothes dryer would use) are also not permitted to be used at any College-owned property.  Under no circumstances should EVs be charged using an extension cord, which could cause risk of shock, overheating or fire.   Individuals that own or are considering the purchase of an EV should follow the U.S. Fire Administration’s Electric Vehicle Charging Safety Tips if charging at their personal (non-College) residence.  Again, charging an EV at any College property other than the designated Gorse lot stations is not allowed. 

The College is committed to both sustainability and safety.  Our EV charging stations are Energy Star-certified, Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-listed and comply with the requirements for electric vehicle charging and supply equipment systems established by NFPA 70 National Electric Code (NEC) article 625.

Crowd Manager Requirements

In accordance with Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code (527 CMR 1), certified Crowd Managers are required for certain assembly facilities with an occupant limit of 100 people or more.  This requirement applies to nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques and bars, which are defined as follows:  

  •  A-2 Assembly (classified as A-2 under the State Building Code (CMR 780)): intended for food and drink consumption including, but not limited to banquet halls, night clubs, restaurants, taverns and bars

  • A-3 Assembly (classified as A-3 under the State Building Code (CMR 780)): - intended for worship, recreation or amusement and other assembly uses including, but not limited to amusement arcades, art galleries, bowling alleys, churches, community halls, courtrooms, dance halls (not including food or drink consumption), exhibition halls, funeral parlors, gymnasiums (without spectator seating), indoor swimming pools (without spectator seating), indoor tennis courts (without spectator seating), lecture halls, libraries, museums, waiting areas in transportation terminals, pool and billiard parlors

  • Any facility that features entertainment by live band or recorded music generating above normal sound levels and has a specific area designated for dancing

The occupant load of the space determines the number of Crowd Managers that will be required.  The occupant load includes employees, performers and guests and is determined by the legal capacity listed on the Certificate of Inspection issued by the Town of South Hadley Building Commissioner, not the number of people attending the event.  At least one Crowd Manager for every 250 occupants is required.

Crowd Managers must be at least 21 years old and have a certificate verifying that they have successfully completed the MA DFS online crowd manager training program.  Recertification is required every 3 years. Certain staff members in the Division of Student Life and Facilities Management are certified Crowd Managers.  At times, the College hires a security company to assist with crowd management.  Students that are planning events should refer to the Designing Your Event website and must comply with all requirements of the Office of Student Involvement.  Departments, faculty and staff that are planning events must work with Conference and Events Services

The responsibilities of Crowd Managers include:  

  • Making sure that audible announcements are made before each program or performance notifying occupants of emergency exit locations

  • Completing the Fire and Building Safety Checklist daily, before the facility opens for the event

    • Keep completed checklists on file and available for inspection for at least one year

  • Making sure paths of egress remain clear and unobstructed

  • Making sure that the facility does not exceed its occupant load limit

  • Immediately report all emergencies to Public Safety and Service: 413-538-2304 - initiate a fire alarm if necessary and direct occupants to exits

Fire Extinguishers and Emergency Equipment

Facilities Management is responsible for the fire detection and suppression systems and emergency equipment throughout campus.  Please contact Facilities Management with questions about these systems:  Problems should be reported by submitting a service request.  Immediately report emergencies to Public Safety and Service: 413-538-2304.

Emergency Equipment

Emergency equipment includes smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, sprinkler systems, hood fire suppression systems, alarm pull stations and fire extinguishers.  Covering any detector, hanging items from sprinkler heads or pipes and moving, obstructing or tampering with any emergency or safety equipment is serious and strictly prohibited. 

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are placed in buildings along exit routes and in select other areas.  With few exceptions, they should only be used by MHC community members if the fire is blocking the ONLY way out.  If there is a clear exit path you should take it immediately. Extinguishers should only be used if ALL of the following are true:

1.    Someone has been sent to pull the alarm and call Public Safety and Service: 413-538-2304

2.    The fire is small (no larger than a wastebasket) and confined to the immediate area where it started (e.g., the fire has not spread)

3.    There are no flammable chemicals or other combustible materials near the fire area

4.    You can extinguish the fire while maintaining a safe escape route

5.    You have had training in the use of the extinguisher and are confident that you can operate it effectively

Fire extinguishers are classified according to the types of fires they fight:

Class A - ordinary combustible materials (wood, cloth, paper, rubber, and many plastics)

Class B - flammable liquids (oils, greases, tars, oil-based paints, alcohols, flammable gases)

Class C - energized electrical equipment

Class D - combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, zirconium, sodium, lithium, and potassium

Class K - Fires in cooking appliances that involve combustible cooking media (vegetable or animal oils and fats)

Annual extinguisher maintenance and periodic hydrostatic testing in accordance with OSHA 29 CFR 1910.157 and NFPA 10 is done by a contractor under the supervision of Facilities Management.  Facilities Management inspects extinguishers each month to ensure that each extinguisher:

1.    is located in its designated place

2.    is not obstructed in access or visibility

3.    has visible operating instructions and nameplate

4.    has unbroken seals

5.    indicates pressure is in the operable range (for extinguishers with gauges)

6.    has no physical damage, corrosion or leakage

If you must use a fire extinguisher, remember PASS:

  • Pull the pin - hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism
  • Aim low - point the extinguisher at the base of the fire
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly
  • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side


Any time an evacuation alarm is activated in any building, or someone yells ‘fire!’ or otherwise indicates that there is a condition making it unsafe to remain in the building, or if Public Safety and Service issues an evacuation order, all occupants must immediately leave through the nearest exit and meet at the designated assembly location

Immediately report the emergency: 413-538-2304.  Anyone with knowledge of the incident should inform Public Safety and Service of the details.  Remain at the assembly area until Public Safety or an official from the South Hadley Fire Department gives the all clear.  Never enter any building when an emergency alarm is sounding. 

Public Safety and Service conducts evacuation drills in College buildings.  Stay updated with the College’sEvacuation Plan and Procedures, which includes information on personal emergency plans (PEPs) and assisting persons with disabilities and defending in place in certain situations. 

Wall and Ceiling Coverings and Decorations

Walls in common areas of any building are not permitted to have greater than 20 percent of any surface covered with combustible material such as paper, posters, fabric or other wall hangings. This also applies to all student residential rooms - students should carefully review the Residence Hall Fire Safety Regulations and Protocols.

Ceiling tapestries or other fabric ceiling coverings that could spread fire are not permitted in any location.

Combustible decorations or displays are not permitted in stairwells or elevators.

Large hangings, decorations or displays that could cause fire to spread from one level to another are not permitted.

Decorations, displays or coverings in any location must never block or obstruct view to accessibility equipment, fire alarm pull panels, extinguishers, emergency lights or exit lights.

Decorations, coverings and displays must never obstruct or cover exit doors, fire sprinkler heads, emergency lights or regular lights or impede egress in any way.