Residential fires are the most common fires and claim more lives than any other type of fire.  For your safety, all residence halls have fire safety equipment, procedures, rules, and expectations.

Residents are prohibited from tampering with fire safety equipment.  Doing so may result in disciplinary action, exclusion from residence halls, and even criminal charges.

​​148.4.  (a) Any person who does any of the following is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon [IJ1]  conviction is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail, not exceeding one year, or by a fine, not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment:

(1) Willfully and maliciously tampers with, molests, injures, or breaks any fire protection equipment, fire protection installation, fire alarm apparatus, wire, or signal.


(2) Willfully and maliciously sends, gives, transmits, or sounds any false alarm of fire, by means of any fire alarm system or signal or by any other means or methods.


(b) Any person who willfully and maliciously sends, gives, transmits, or sounds any false alarm of fire, by means of any fire alarm system or signal, or by any other means or methods, is guilty of a felony and upon conviction is punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 or by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) nor more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, if any person sustains as a result thereof, any of the following:

(1) Great bodily injury.


(2) Death.


(Amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 15, Sec. 261. (AB 109) Effective April 4, 2011. Operative October 1, 2011, by Sec. 636 of Ch. 15, as amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 39, Sec. 68.)

The following information will assist you in evacuating the building safely in the event of a fire, outline the rules and expectations related to fire prevention, and explain the fire safety equipment.

What to do if there is a fire:

Small Fire (waste basket size):

  • Pull a nearby fire alarm and call 911 after moving to a safe place.
  • Alert people in the area to evacuate and assist those with disabilities.
  • Close doors to confine the fire.
  • Be familiar with evacuation exits.  Evacuate the building immediately – walk, do not run.
  • Do not use the elevator.  Use the stairs.
  • When smoke or fire is encountered, keep low or crawl to avoid inhaling toxic fumes.
  • If a door feels hot or smoke prevents exiting, keep the door closed.
  • Do not reenter the building until authorized by the Fire Department/District.
  • Residential halls are equipped with fire extinguishers.  If you have been trained to use a fire extinguisher, utilize it while keeping an exit path available behind you.  Bring the extinguisher within six feet of the fire.

P – Pull the pin located in the extinguisher’s handle.

A – Aim the nozzle, horn, or hose at the base of the fire.

S – Squeeze or press the handles together.

S – Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it is out.

Large Fire:

  • Pull the fire alarm and call 911 after moving to a safe place.
  • Alert people in the area to evacuate and assist those with disabilities.
  • Close doors to confine the fire.
  • Follow the posted evacuation route and meet in the assembly area.
  • Have persons knowledgeable about the incident and location assist emergency personnel if needed.

If Trapped in a Room:

  • Place a cloth material around/under the floor to prevent smoke from entering the room.
  • Close as many doors as possible between you and the fire.
  • DO NOT open or break windows unless necessary to escape.
  • Be prepared to signal your location through a window.

If Caught in Smoke:

Drop to your hands and knees and crawl; hold your breath as long as possible; breathe through a filter (blouse, shorts, jacket, etc.) and through your nose.

Fire Safety Guidelines

Fire prevention is critical in protecting our community as so many lives are endangered by accidents or careless actions.  All students are expected to observe the following regulations critical to the prevention of residence hall fires:

  • The use or possession of any dangerous chemical or explosive material, including but not limited to, fireworks, gunpowder, gasoline, or propane is prohibited within the residence halls.
  • Tampering with fire alarms, fire sprinklers, smoke detectors or fire extinguishers is a violation of state law and is prohibited pursuant to Penal Code 148.4.
  • Propping open doors for any purpose other than emergency evacuation is prohibited.
  • Room doors, breezeways, corridors, stairways, and building exits must be always kept clear of obstructions. Balconies, breezeways, and patios must not be used as storage areas.
  • All students and guests must evacuate any building in which a fire alarm sounds in accordance with all local, state, and federal laws.
  • Students who continually activate a fire alarm because of cooking or preventable circumstances may result in the student receiving disciplinary action and/or a service fee.
  • SHALL NOT POSSESS air conditioners, space heaters, halogen lighting, electric/heating blankets, and other electrical or heating appliances.

Items prohibited in College housing include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Open flames, candles, sunlamps, incense, hookahs, or any device capable of producing an open or enclosed/contained flame
  • High-resistance electrical appliances (including but not limited to, hot plates, space heaters, heating coils, electric blankets, sunlamps, halogen lamps, and toaster ovens)
  • Extension cords without a UL-approved circuit breaker

Cooking and Microwaves

Cooking is not permitted in the residence halls other than in those areas that are specifically designed or equipped for cooking by the College (i.e. townhouses and staff apartments). Kitchens in residence hall lounges are available for hall events and not intended for regular personal use. The heating of beverages, snacks, and popcorn in college-approved microwaves is permitted. Students may use a personal microwave if it does not exceed 1,000 watts.

Barbecue (BBQ) Grills in/near Residences

Saint Mary’s College allows students and student organizations the freedom to use outdoor BBQ grills for the purpose of achieving positive social interactions and community while accepting responsibility for the use of the BBQ grills on campus. As with any other scheduled or non-scheduled social event, the sponsoring/attending students or student organization is responsible for managing the event involving the BBQ grills with concern for the health and safety of individuals present at the event. All policies and procedures of the College must be always followed. College staff/faculty members, and Residential Experience staff may ask students to discontinue the use of a BBQ grill at any time, for hazardous conditions (such as high winds, burn bans, fire season, etc.), or if smoke emissions become offensive to occupants of surrounding property. Failure to comply with a request to extinguish the fire/grilling may result in disciplinary action for the individual or organization hosting the event.

BBQ Grill Guidelines for Use

  • Only non-treated wood, paper, and charcoal briquettes may be used as burning materials. It is the responsibility of the individual/organization to provide needed materials. In addition, the individual/organization is responsible for any damage caused to surrounding grounds caused by fire/grilling.
  • Lit fires must never be left alone.
  • Fires must be completely extinguished immediately following the conclusion of the event. Smoldering coals, smoke, or residual heat may indicate the ability of a fire to reignite and must have dissipated prior to individuals leaving the area unattended.
  • If fire/smoke becomes unmanageable with the use of a fire extinguisher, call Campus Safety at 925-631-4282.
  • BBQs shall comply with California Fire Code 308.1.4
  • Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within 10 feet (3048 mm) of combustible construction.


  1. One- and two-family dwellings.
  2. Where buildings, balconies, and decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler system.
  3. LP-gas cooking devices having LP-gas containers with a water capacity not greater than 21/2 pounds [nominal 1 pound (0.454 kg) LP-gas capacity]
Fire Safety Equipment

Fire sprinklers and smoke alarms are placed in residential halls for your safety.  Do not tamper with any fire safety equipment tampering with any fire safety equipment may result in disciplinary action, exclusion from the residence halls, and even criminal charges (Cal. Pen. Code § 148.4).

Smoke Alarms

The purpose of smoke and fire detection systems is to wake you in case of a fire, notify the local fire district, and notify Campus Safety.

Do not tamper with smoke or fire detectors.

Smoke and fire detectors are on the ceilings of each resident room; smoke and/or excessive heat will sound the alarm within the building. Everyone must evacuate the building immediately when hearing the alarm.

Fire Sprinkler Systems

Most of the residence halls have fire sprinkler systems.  In the event of a fire, the sprinklers will operate based on the increased temperature.

The fire sprinkler systems can cause a great deal of water damage and the sprinkler heads should not be tampered with.  Any activation of the sprinkler system will alert the Moraga Orinda Fire District.

Fire Alarm Tamper Covers

Some fire alarm stations are protected with tamper covers.

Evacuation due to Fire

During any fire alarm, the immediate course of action is to evacuate the building to the evacuation point listed on the evacuation diagram in your room or building.  If there is a large-scale fire event in Moraga or neighboring jurisdiction, the orders from the Moraga Police Department may be to shelter in place at the Recreation Center.  Due to the outflow of traffic from Moraga, evacuation of the Saint Mary’s campus may create greater delays by disrupting traffic flow. Should the evacuation route change, based on the direction of the wildfire, information will be sent via our emergency notification system and Campus Safety personnel will assist in providing direction.