Smoke Protection in Dormitories: Keeping Students Safe


Every year, thousands of college students pack their bags and prepare to move into their campus accommodations. Known as dormitories or dorms, these buildings are designed to house a lot of students, often in close quarters with one another. And like any apartment building or hotel, this means taking precautions to help protect the residents of the building from the threat of smoke and fire.

Smoke and fire threats in university dorms can be a very real hazard. Students who smoke, use illegal hot plates, burn candles or engage in otherwise risky behavior may elevate the risk for the entire building. At the same time, the building is still subject to the same kinds of potential threats from smoke and fire as any other building: electrical malfunctions, overloaded power strips, improperly stored chemicals and stray sparks. 

It’s critical to make sure that the dormitories on your campus are designed to help protect occupants from smoke and fire. While all multi-occupant residences need to have some degree of fire protection and an evacuation plan, that may not always be enough. Smoke can do just as much, if not more, damage than fire, and can be just as dangerous to occupants. Making sure that your dormitories have efficient smoke protection can help reduce this potential harm. 

Basic Smoke and Fire Protection for Multi-Occupancy Buildings


Most residences and dormitories built today are designed with fire protection in mind, using flame retardant materials to construct the building on the exterior and interior of the structure.

All dorms are built with multiple egress points to assist students in getting out faster, and they should also be equipped with working smoke and fire detectors, along with sprinkler systems. This is the absolute minimum that any dormitory should have to help protect the students residing there.

Additional basic fire and smoke protection systems should also include making sure that there are easy to find and read evacuation plans on every floor, emergency lights that can assist students in finding the exits, self-sealing doors in stairways that can help prevent smoke from traveling through the stairs, and flame-retardant doors in case students need to shelter in place away from smoke or fire. 

These are all great first steps to helping ensure safety and to reduce the risk of fire damage, but there are additional steps that can be taken to help further reduce the risk and damage that can come from smoke. 

Smoke Protection for Dormitories


In many ways, smoke can arguably be more dangerous than flames because of the way that smoke can travel through a building. Smoke can get into vents, elevators, stairways and cracks beneath non-sealing doors. It can displace the oxygen in a room, making it more difficult for occupants to breathe. Depending on what is burning and generating the smoke, it may also leave behind stains, smudges and odors on walls, floors, ceilings, furnishings and clothing. 

So even if occupants of the building are able to make it out unharmed, the interior of the building can still have a lot of smoke damage. 

An important part of helping to protect the occupants and their belongings is to help block and contain the smoke, preventing it from traveling freely through the building. One successful method is the use of smoke curtains.

Smoke Curtains Help Protect Students in Dormitories


Smoke curtains are installed over doorways, vents, elevators and other areas where smoke may easily travel. They can also be used to help block and seal off high ceilings and atriums where smoke may rise quickly. 

In the event of a fire, the smoke curtains deploy to cover and block the area in question, preventing smoke from getting through. This can help contain the smoke and fire to the area where it began, making it easier for occupants to exit safely and preventing excessive damage to the building.

Smoke curtains can also be used to help create areas where students can shelter in place if they need assistance while leaving the building. Installed over doorways and at the start of stairways, a smoke curtain can help create safe passage out of the building. 

Combined with sprinklers, alarm systems and flame-retardant building materials, smoke and fire curtains can reduce damage and loss of life in the event of a dormitory fire. 

Add Smoke Protection to Your Dormitories

Fire alarms and sprinkler systems are a great start to helping protect students that are living in dormitories. Adding smoke curtains to your fire protection plan will help further reduce the damage to the dorms and the risk to the students living there. 

Consider the addition of smoke and fire curtains to your fire protection plan to better protect those inside. Click here to talk to one of our fire protection experts today on how to protect your school dormitory.