Any fire, no matter how small, is potentially dangerous. In all cases, the alarm must be raised and the Porters’ Lodge contacted.

There is a programme of regular fire drills, and you should always take precautions against the risk of fire.

  • Fire doors are never to be wedged open.
  • Fire extinguishers and alarms are not to be tampered with.
  • Lighted candles are not permitted in any College rooms.

Fire safety information is distributed with all Residential Agreements. A resident of every house and staircase is designated as a Fire Warden, responsible for regular visual checks of extinguishers, fire doors, etc.

Any interference with fire precautions is viewed as a serious offence and will lead to disciplinary action.

Detection and alarm

All Downing College accommodation is equipped with automated fire detection and alarm equipment. In every case this is a hard-wired system, relayed back to the Porters’ Lodge by a dedicated link (staircases), or via a dial-up line (external houses).

Any tampering with the fire detection and alarm systems or first aid fire appliances (extinguishers) is deemed a very serious offence, and will be dealt with most severely by the College.

In the past, irresponsible behaviour involving the fire detection system has led to students being fined and sent out of College accommodation.

If you discover a fire anywhere:

  • Break the glass in the nearest Alarm Box before you do anything else.
  • Ensure your own route of escape.
  • Call the Porters’ Lodge immediately with the details.

Fighting a fire:

  • Do not attempt this unless you have been trained to do so.
  • Keep between your escape route and the fire at all times.
  • Do not use water extinguishers (or fire hoses) on electrical fires or fat and oil fires.
  • Burning oil or fat in a pan can be covered with a fire blanket, but approach the fire with the blanket in front of your face, and be sure your hands are wrapped in a cloth.
  • If you cannot extinguish the fire in one minute get out and close the door.
  • If a person’s clothing is alight roll them in a blanket or coat to smother the flames.

If you hear the Fire Alarms continuously ringing, evacuate immediately.

  • leave the building
  • close, but do not lock, doors behind you
  • congregate on the nearest lawn, not on paths. There will be a roll-call and it is important that you are accounted for. Do not re-enter the building until you are advised that it is safe to do so
  • never cancel a fire alarm - fire alarms may only be reset by Porters or those acting under their direction.


It is the duty of all College members, guests and visitors to prevent fire. On a personal level, this means that individuals must be aware of potential dangers, while the College also has a number of procedures to ensure that risks are minimised.

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP)

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans are required for any member of the College who is not able to vacate buildings unaided.

Students who need assistance with emergency evacuation should complete an Emergency Egress Questionnaire so that the College has the necessary information to ensure the correct level of help is always available. The Fire Safety Officer is able to give advice about completion of this questionnaire.

Smoking policy

The College recognises that smoking is a health risk to both smokers and non-smokers and can constitute a fire hazard.

Furthermore, College buildings also fall within the provisions of the Health Act 2006 expressly prohibiting smoking in enclosed areas. Hence, it is illegal for staff, students, visitors, conference guests, contractors or members of the public to smoke in any part of its premises.

College premises include all buildings on the Domus and other College premises such as graduate houses, the boathouse, the sports pavilion, and also College-owned vehicles.

Those students wishing to smoke may do so in the designated smoking areas (Student). These are:

  • the area outside the side entrance to the Butterfield Café/Bar
  • the area by the ramp at the rear of the MCR (East Lodge Garden)
  • the area around the Fitzwilliam Gate

Other areas are designated for staff and for conference use.

Students are required to advise their guests of this policy, and ensure that it is followed. The Operations Manager is responsible for implementing and monitoring this policy.

Students who breach the policy may be subject to prosecution or to internal disciplinary action.