3. Fire safety

Fire is probably the most serious danger which most members of the University will ever have to face. It can break out almost anywhere and affects everyone.

3.1 Fire action: On discovering a fire

In the event of a fire follow the instructions that are given in the Fire Action Notices that are displayed throughout the buildings. If you discover a fire:

  • Operate the nearest fire alarm call point.
  • Leave the building quickly and calmly by the nearest fire exit route.
  • Ensure that the University Emergency Service has been informed. Dial the University Emergency Number 2222 from extensions on the 650/651 exchange (for all other telephones, dial 0131 651 3999).

NEVER attempt to tackle a fire yourself unless you have been trained in the use of fire extinguishers and feel confident that you can do so without endangering the safety of yourself and others.


3.2 Fire action: On hearing the fire alarm

  • Leave the building immediately using the nearest available fire exit. All fire exit routes are clearly indicated with the emergency signs bearing ‘a running man’ symbol.
  • Lifts MUST NOT be used.
  • Do not stop to collect belongings. 
  • Close the doors behind you as you leave your room.
  • Go directly to the Fire Assembly Point designated to your building (as indicated on the fire action notices).
  • Follow the instructions given by fire stewards, fire assembly controllers and fire co-ordinators.
  • DO NOT re-enter the building until authorised to do so by the Fire Brigade. 

Specially designed fire-fighting lifts can be used to assist in evacuation of mobility impaired persons the procedures for which are outlined in 3.5.


3.3 Means of escape

  • Ensure that you are familiar with as many as possible of the exit and fire escape routes from your building.
  • Fire exits and escape routes must always be kept clear of obstructions, especially combustible items. It is an offence to obstruct a fire exit.
  • Always ensure that fire doors are kept closed (except automatic fire doors which close when the fire alarm is activated) as they are designed to confine a fire and hold back smoke. Fire doors must not be propped or wedged open.
  • Lifts must not be used in the event of a fire.

The Forum

The Forum has three main escape stairs within the fire cores at the north-west and south-east corners of the building, and at the south end of the Life Sciences Wing. In the event of an emergency evacuation only those protected stairs should be used, as fire curtains situated around the atrium will automatically drop to form a fire barrier preventing access to the atrium main and spiral stairwells from the floor levels. If you are on these stairwells when the fire alarm sounds then immediately proceed downwards. This is particularly important on the spiral stair (between levels 2 and 4) where the fire curtain at level 2 has a built in delay mechanism to allow just 1 minute for the safe escape from the stair before closing. The building has two emergency evacuation lifts, which require to be operated by trained personnel.

Assembly point is either Bristo Square, or George Square garden.  PLEASE NOTE: During the Festival when we don't have clear access to these spaces, the assembly point will be outside Appleton Tower directly across from the Forum entrance.

Appleton Tower

Appleton Tower has two main stairs located in the east and west ends of the building either of which can be used in the event of an emergency evacuation. The building has two emergency evacuation lifts, which require to be operated by trained personnel.

Assembly point is In the parking lot towards Windmill Lane/David Hume Tower


3.4 Duties of Fire Stewards, Fire Controllers and Fire Co-ordinators  

List of fire stewards, fire controllers and fire co-ordinators for all buildings.  

Instructions for Fire Stewards

As a Fire Steward you should be familiar with:

  • Fire evacuation procedure for the building
  • All emergency exit routes from your area.
  • Location and use of the fire extinguishers.

Report any problems concerned with fire safety to the School's Health and Safety Adviser. 

On hearing the fire alarm:

  • Ensure that all personnel in your designated area evacuate the building in an orderly manner, using the nearest available emergency exit. Always wear a high visibility vest so you can be easily identified by personnel.
  • Close all doors as you leave each room.
  • Check any disabled refuge in your area. If there is someone who requires assistance report this to the Fire Controller.
  • After leaving the building report to the Fire Controller that your area is or is not clear.
  • Assist the Fire Controller in keeping building occupants from re-entering the building until the 'all clear' is given


Instructions for Assembly Controllers

On hearing the fire alarm:

  • Gather up your high visibility vest and clipboard (spare fire controller's boards are located near the fire alarm panels in Appleton Tower - at Security, The Forum -  back room at Reception, Wikie Building - in the fire records box by the west door. Forrest Hill ).
  • Proceed to the agreed meeting point of the Fire Brigade (Appleton Tower - at the car park , the Forum - at the main entrance. Wilkie - at the West entrance, Forrest Hill - at the main door).
  • Record on your checklist the information given by Fire Stewards as to whether their designated area is clear or not. Note any problems/issues indicated by Fire Stewards or others as they vacate the building .
  • Direct Fire Stewards to move people away from the exits to the assembly point(s) and keep them well back from the building. 
  • Relocate Fire Stewards to cover all entrances to prevent re-entry before the 'all clear' is given.
  • Relay all relevant information to the Fire Co-ordinator.
  • Ensure that the checklist is sent to the H&S Adviser after the emergency is over.

If the building does not have a Fire Co-ordinator then the Fire Controller should:

  • Allocate emergency evacuation teams to attend to any evac requests
  • Relay all relevant information to the Fire Service on arrival.
  • Relay all information to Security on arrival. 
  • Remain available for the Fire Service.


Instructions for Fire Co-ordinators  

On hearing the fire alarm:

  • Station yourself near the main fire alarm panel
  • Collate all relevant information from the fire alarm panel. The fire zone chart is displayed above the panel and a set of fire zone plans is available to assist with the identification of the area where the system activated.
  • Respond to any calls from the Disabled Communication Control Panel and if necessary supply a Recovery Team with the lift key and direct them to any refuge point where a disabled person awaits assistance.
  • Relay all relevant information to the Fire Service and Security on arrival.
  • Remain available for the Fire Service.



3.5 Emergency Evacuation Procedure for Mobility Impaired Persons

3.5.1 Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEP)  

The line manager, or your Personal Tutor (in the case of undergrad students) in conjunction with other University parties, will organise a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) for each individual who requires assistance or special arrangements during an emergency evacuation. Staff and postgraduate students who are mobility impaired or have other impairments e.g. hearing or sight impairment and would require assistance in the event of an emergency evacuation should notify the School Safety Adviser. Undergraduate students should contact Gillian Watt who is the School's Co-ordinator of Adjustments for Students. This also applies in circumstances where an individual may need a temporary PEEP e.g. those with broken limbs, sport injuries or women in the later stages of pregnancy.

Persons hosting short term visitors who would require assistance during emergency evacuation of the building must ensure that they have an evacuation procedure and the relevant manual help in place in advance of the visit. This is particularly important if the visitor is in the building outside normal working hours when regular fire safety cover is not available.

Information about these polices can be found at:




3.5.2 Evacuation Procedure for Mobility Impaired People

Instructions for mobility impaired persons

On hearing the fire alarm:

  • Anyone with permanent or temporary mobility impairment located on the ground floor should evacuate the building through the nearest fire exit.
  • If located above or below the ground floor proceed to a Temporary Waiting Area (Refuge Point) and inform the Fire Co-ordinator through the communication device of your location.
  • If you have a mobile phone also inform University Security (0131 651 3999)
  • Wait in the Temporary Waiting Area (Refuge Point) for further instructions and assistance.
  • Trained recovery team members will attend and assist you with evacuation either via the emergency evacuation lift or by using an evacuation chair.

Instructions for Recovery Team Members

On hearing the fire alarm:

  • Proceed to the meeting point and report to the Fire Co-ordinator.
  • Remain available in case your assistance is required.
  • If required the Fire Co-ordinator will direct you to a Temporary Waiting Area (Refuge Point) where a person(s) is awaiting your assistance to evacuate. If, for some reason, the evacuation lift is unavailable (e.g. the lift is out of action or it is not safe to use) then use the evacuation chair in line with training procedures.
  • On arrival at the Temporary Waiting Area (Refuge Point) use the communication device to inform the Fire Co-ordinator that you are about to effect the evacuation of a disabled person(s).
  • Once the evacuation of the disabled person(s) is complete report this to the Fire Co-ordinator.


3.6 Weekly fire alarm testing and fire drills

Tests on the fire alarm system are carried out on a weekly basis to ensure that the system is operational and that doors fitted with hold open devices and security devices operate as required on actuation of the alarm. No one is required to evacuate a building during a fire alarm test unless the sounders sound for more than 30 seconds. On all other occasions of the fire alarm activation the premises must be evacuated.   Fire Test Times in the following building are:

  • Appleton Tower: Wednesday at 11am
  • The Forum: Thursday at 11.30am
  • Wilkie Building, Tuesday at 11am

No one should tamper with the Fire Alarm System (or other alarm system). It is a serious offence and penalties are severe.

Fire drills take place in each building at least once a year to rehearse the full evacuation procedure and to identify any weakness in the evacuation strategy.


Reviewed: 26/5/22 dch