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VCOM Campus

Carolinas Campus Fire and Safety Policies and Procedures

Safety Mission

The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine strives to create an atmosphere of safety and comfort which allow faculty, staff and students to concentrate on their mission of providing academics and student services and on learning. The goal of the operations department is to oversee the campus facilities, to assist those in charge of each facility, in providing a safe and secure environment. The following policies and procedures outline each individual's role in maintaining a safe and secure environment for all.

Carolinas Campus Access

All VCOM students, faculty, and staff are responsible for campus safety.  The campus is available for student access during announced times.  The use of VCOM ID’s are required to access the building during approved hours.  Students will receive a VCOM student photo identification badge at the beginning of the first year, which is used for identification and access privileges such as access to the campus building, access to facilities and services at Virginia Tech and Auburn University, identification while on clinical rotations, and use for certain services such as Blacksburg Transit on the Virginia Campus or Tiger Transit on the Auburn Campus.  

VCOM identification badges must be worn/displayed in plain site by students, faculty, and staff at all times when on VCOM and while on clinical rotations.  This badge must be used to access the VCOM campus/building during approved hours.  Badges will authorize building access via the student approved entry sites.  Each student and employee is required to badge into campus individually.  Students, faculty, and staff who cannot display their badge for whatever reason, must acquire a temporary access badge from reception for use for 24 hrs.  After the 24 hours, the temporary badge must be returned to reception and a new badge issued (if the existing badge is lost).  Anyone using temporary badges must enter the building through the front entrance only, as temporary badges do not grant building access through the card swipe system.  Student, faculty, or staff who observe someone in the building without their photo ID displayed, should report that person to the nearest VCOM faculty or staff member.  If you observe suspicious or criminal activity on campus, please report these actions immediately.

Students or employee repeatedly violating the ID badge display policy (i.e. refuses to display his/her badge) are subject to disciplinary action.  

Lost or stolen badges should be reported to Operations immediately so that they may be deactivated for security reasons.  In the event a badge is lost, there will be a replacement fee of $15 for the Carolinas Campus, $20 for the Virginia Campus, and $25 for the Auburn Campus (fees differ among campuses due to the source we acquire them from).

Nametags are also issued to students by VCOM and are to be worn on outside clinical experiences.  Nametags are not to be worn in non-clinical settings unless designated by VCOM faculty or administration.  Students are provided with one nametag free of charge at the beginning of clinical experiences; it should be retained for the four years of study.  Lost nametags must be reported to the Office of the Registrar and a replacement nametag must be issued through VCOM.  Replacements are made at the student’s expense.  The current cost for a replacement nametag is $15.  Hospitals will generally also require a picture ID to be worn or carried.  Students should always have a picture ID on their person when working in a clinical setting.

Campus Safety

All faculty, staff, and students should report any incidence of crime against a person or personal property to the operations department immediately. You may reach operations through 864-327-9882 or 864-327-9883. If you are unable to reach someone at these numbers, please contact the front desk for assistance at 864-327-9800. In addition, in the event of an emergency, courtesy phones, which are located throughout the building, may be used to contact “911.”

Campus Safety Officers are always on-duty after normal business hours on evenings and weekends while the building is open to students and are available for general security and safety issues.  Campus Safety Officers are available to escort students to their parked cars after dark if one feels the need for additional security.   For assistance, please call the security number posted throughout the building or report to the front desk.  The available Campus Safety Officer will also contact the local police if needed.

Crime Log

Each year, VCOM participates in the reporting of significant crimes against persons and personal property. A crime log is kept in the operations department. You may view the log by contacting the Vice President of Operations. You may see the U.S. Department of Education's report on campus safety by visiting thier Campus Safety and Security website at and searching for Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Fire Safety Information and Procedures

Action and Reporting Responsibilities in the Event of a Fire or Fire Hazard​
In the event of a small fire that can be quickly extinguished in a safe manner, the observer should act immediately to extinguish the fire.  Immediately upon extinguishing the fire, a member of the Operations Department should be notified to inspect and assure the danger has been resolved OR to begin the evacuation drill. 

If the person observing the fire determines that the fire or other hazards is causing immediate danger, the observer should sound the fire alarm and follow the evacuation plan to exit the building.  Anyone who observes a fire hazard should notify the Operations Department immediately.

Fire Alarm Information
Fire alarms can be sounded for many different reasons including an actual fire, an intentional activation, an accident during cleaning, smoke or steam of any type, or a defective detector.  VCOM also conducts periodic fire drills to ensure that all building occupants understand the emergency exit process.  It is important to evacuate the building during a fire alarm regardless of the cause.  No one may re-enter the building after an alarm until the "all clear" has been sounded by the operations staff in charge or by emergency personnel.

In the event the fire alarm sounds, students shall proceed immediately to the nearest exit or stairwell leading to an exit to egress the building.  Students, faculty, and staff should become familiar with the site-specific fire plans.  Building occupants shall proceed at a walking (not running) pace and use caution to avoid injury to other persons when exiting.  Building occupants should proceed to the designated outdoor safe zones and refrain from leaving until properly accounted for. 

Anyone knowingly activating an alarm without a fire or like emergency will be subject to action by administration for unprofessional behavior.  Fire alarms are present to help alert building occupants of an emergency, and false alarms contribute to apathy and complacency of residents placing them at risk in the future.

Evacuation of the Buildings
As part of VCOM’s fire safety procedures, students, faculty, and staff are provided with building evacuation maps.  These are provided to all new employees upon hire and all first year students at orientation.  All students, faculty, and staff are also provided these maps annually.  The evacuation maps show features of the building, including exits and stairway locations and outline the evacuation route that should be used by building occupants according to where they are in the building.  Evacuation plans exist for all VCOM buildings.  Faculty, staff, and students should review and be familiar with the evacuation plans.

All stairwell doors are considered fire doors in the VCOM buildings. Depending on the building construction, some interior doors are also fire doors. According to state fire prevention codes, all fire doors must remain closed at all times. When stairwell doors remain closed, they prevent smoke from entering the stairwell and provide a safe means of egress from the building. For this reason, propping fire doors open is not permitted.

VCOM Building Evacuation Plan Maps

Smoke Detectors and Sprinkler Systems
Smoke detectors are located in the main VCOM buildings and are important defenses against the spread of fire.  Smoke detectors are tested semi-annually by a qualified fire alarm testing company.  

Sprinkler systems located in the main VCOM buildings are designed to assist in the containment and extinguishing of fires in those buildings. The sprinkler systems are tested annually by a fire alarm testing company according to applicable code requirements.

Fire Prevention
General safety precautions to prevent fire apply to all VCOM buildings and campuses.

The following guidelines apply to interior and exterior areas:

  1. VCOM does not allow burning of any kind without prior approval by operations. The use of bonfires, burning of brush or trash, or any other outside burning is strictly prohibited.
  2. Occasional use of an approved barbecue grill or an approved outdoor fireplace may be given but must be cleared with operations to assure it meets the Fire and Safety Code. Hot ashes or smoldering coals from approved barbecue grills or outdoor fireplaces must be disposed of in non-combustible containers. In general no other open flames will be allowed. All grills or approved outdoor fireplaces must be a minimum of 30 feet from any building.
  3. Open flame indoor or outdoor decorations are prohibited with the exception of outdoor candles. Outdoor candles may be used 20 feet from the building, and must be extinguished and disposed of properly in a non-combustible container. Indoor candles are prohibited.
  4. Cigarettes, cigars, matches, lighters, and any other materials that may ignite a fire must be disposed of in a safe manner in a non-combustible container. As VCOM facilities are non-smoking facilities, all smoking within 30 feet of the building should be avoided. No smoking signs should not be removed. Faculty, staff, and students are expected to abide by VCOM no smoking policies.
  5. Fuel containers under pressure are prohibited unless pre-approved and must not exceed 20 gallons when approved.
  6. Accumulations of waste paper, straw, compacted cotton bales, litter, and/or overgrowth of vegetation is not permitted as this is considered a fire hazard.
  7. Materials prone to spontaneous ignition must be stored in non-combustible containers.
  8. Storage of combustible trash must not be kept and must be disposed of in a manner not to cause a hazard to the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
  9. All containers over 5.88 cubic feet shall have a lid.
  10. Dumpsters shall be kept at a distance of greater than 5 feet from any building.
  11. In rare circumstances candles are approved for use as décor in the VCOM II event center. In such cases the candles must be in a safe container where there is not a danger of spread of hot wax or fire. Immediately after or before the event ends, all fire must be extinguished in a safe manner and all candles removed in a non-combustible container. Candles are prohibited in aisles, halls or doorways.
  12. Caterers must use any Bunsen burner or other flames to heat foods in a responsible manner and according to the Fire Code. Any open flame used for these purposes must be observed at all times. The caterers are responsible to remove all such Bunsen burners from premises when leaving and must dispose of them in a safe and responsible manner.
  13. Batteries, battery chargers, floor scrubbers or buffers, and any potentially flammable or igniting device must be stored properly and away from any combustible materials so not to cause a fire hazard. All such items must be disposed of properly according to Virginia fire code. Operations should be notified prior to the disposal of any such items on college property.
  14. Any refueling or fuel containers must be kept a minimum of 30 feet from the building and should not occur without notification of operations.
  15. Storage, handling, and arrangement of potentially combustible materials shall be kept in an orderly fashion and away from heaters, heating devices, or other potential igniting source.
  16. Storage must not obstruct sprinkler systems and must be greater than 2 feet from ceiling height where sprinkler systems exist.
  17. Toasters, fans, and portable space heaters are prohibited.
  18. Coffee pots, microwaves, refrigerators are allowed only in pre-approved areas by operations. They must follow the recommended UL. Coffee pots must be unplugged daily and should not be left on throughout the day when not in active use.
  19. Extension cords should not be used. Power bars may be used if they have surge protection. Wall units should not be overloaded.

VCOM follows all State and Local Fire and Safety Codes. The Operations department will make monthly unannounced walk-through inspections for potential fire hazards.

Decorations and Fire Safety
Guidelines for the types of decorations allowable in interior and exterior areas have been established to ensure consistency with any and all applicable rules, regulations, and codes in order to reduce the potential for safety and fire hazards, inside and outside of the facilities. Decorating for personalization and to celebrate holidays and other events is wholeheartedly supported; however, must fall within these requirements.

Interior Areas: 

  1. Combustible materials may not be placed on the surface of entry doors, stairwells, or other exits Examples of combustible materials include, but are not limited to, paper of any kind, contact paper, and plastics.
  2. The only exception to this is that a single memo or message board may be placed on a door facing a hallway.
  3. Room numbers and name-signs should not be covered..
  4. No materials of any kind may be hung from ceilings.
  5. Only "cool" mini-lights are authorized for use in any of VCOM buildings. You must notify operations and demonstrate safe lighting prior to using any lights for decoration.
  6. Flammable items such as fuel (propane, lamp oil, solvents, gasoline, etc.) may not be stored or used in any area of the buildings without prior notification of operations. The exception is RBII or other Research Facilities where such items may be used in the daily process of research. Operations will make periodic rounds to inspect such items to assure all safety precautions are being taken. Individual faculty and staff should notify operations of the existence of such items so safety measures can be taken.
  7. Incense and candles are not allowed in the building.
  8. Smoking is not permitted in any VCOM facility or on the Campus except in an individual’s car.
  9. Posters, pictures, and any other type of decorations must not be placed around side-mounted sprinkler heads or smoke detectors.
  10. Halogen lamps are no longer UL approved and are illegal to use anywhere.
  11. Exit doors, hallways, stairwells, and other means of egress (exit) may not be obstructed in any way.
  12. Combustible materials such as cotton batting, straw, dry vines, leaves, trees (cut or live), artificial flowers, shrubbery, and foam-type plastic materials shall not be used for decorative purposes in a quantity as to constitute a fire hazard.
  13. No live or cut trees are permitted. Only artificial trees are permitted in the rooms and public areas where the tree may be placed so as not to block an exit or access to an exit.
  14. Public area decorations may only be displayed for the time intervals noted below. All decorations must be disposed of, or stored, properly when not in use.
    1. Birthdays or other such individual celebrations: 72 hrs. (3 days)
    2. Christmas or Hanukah: The Monday after Thanksgiving until January 3rd.
    3. Halloween: Two weeks before Halloween until the day after Halloween
    4. Thanksgiving: The day after Halloween until the Monday after Thanksgiving break
    5. July 1 to 5th only.
    6. Other Holidays and religious events may be decorated with proper notification of operations.

Exterior Areas:

  • All exit doors and other means of egress shall not be obstructed.
  • All materials must be flame proof in an approved manner.
  • All lights or other electrical decorations must be rated for outdoor use and UL listed.
  • All extension cords must be rated for outdoor use and UL listed. No extension cords or other electrical cords may be run through doorways, windows, walls or above ceiling tiles. Only exterior outlet or approved power sources may be used.
  • Electronic access/ key card readers may not be obstructed.
  • Decorations/lights may not be strung or looped from window to window. Lights may be hung inside of the windows in accordance with the stated policy for use of "cool" mini-lights.
  • Public area decorations are subject to inspection by College Operations staff and will be removed if deemed unsafe.

Firearms and Weapons

VCOM property is considered private property; therefore, students, faculty, staff, and visitors are prohibited from carrying, maintaining, or storing a firearm or weapon on any VCOM property, VCOM clinical site, affiliated university campuses, and all surrounding parking lots and space owned or leased by the College.  Any visitor or other third party attending an event, or visiting an academic or administrative office is prohibited from carrying, maintaining, or storing a firearm or weapon on any college facility, even if the owner has a valid permit.  This prohibition also applies to all events on campus where people congregate in any public or outdoor areas.  Students or employees who violate this policy are subject to disciplinary action up to and including suspension or dismissal.

Inclement Weather and Emergency Notifications

VCOM notifies students, staff, and faculty of delays and cancellations of classes due to inclement weather and emergency situations through multiple means.  Notifications will be sent through VCOM Alerts, a mass text and email notification system, and VCOM’s official information lines.  Please note that one campus closing for inclement weather or emergencies does not necessarily include the other campuses.

Messages receive through VCOM Alerts and on the official information line are the only official sources used to report school closings, delays, or any other important announcements.  VCOM will also inform local TV and radio stations regarding school closings or delays; however, if students see or hear an announcement on TV or radio, they should also call the information line or check their text and email messages to confirm the closing, delay, or announcement.  The VCOM information line will handle approximately five calls at once, so students are asked to clear the line as soon as the message is heard.  VCOM makes every effort to notify students, staff, and faculty by 7:00 a.m.  We ask that you use your own best judgment of whether to travel on snow covered or icy roads, as well as the VCOM parking lot and sidewalks.  Any time VCOM is listed as closed, students will not have access to the building.

Class rescheduling due to closings or delays will be announced via VCOM email.  Students are responsible for checking their email and for making sure their email account does not exceed the space allotted so that they receive all official emails.  

VCOM’s official information line: Carolinas Campus 864-327-9900

Campus Building and Facilities Safety Surveys

In addition to the safety procedures outlined above, the Operations Department conducts monthly surveys of each campus to include:

  • Surveying all buildings and premises walkways, floors, wall openings, skylights, floor openings, gratings, non-slip mats, platforms, manholes, floors, and roofs to be sure they are safe.
  • Assure all lighting is working and all emergency and explosions proof lighting systems are adequate.
  • Assure all stairs, elevators, and fire escapes are clean, in good repair, and handrails and guardrails are adequate and non-slippery.
  • Assuring all ladders and scaffolds are safe and appropriately stored.
  • Assure all ventilation is working satisfactorily. Assure all electrical wiring and equipment is functioning safely and appropriately.
  • Assure all heating and cooling equipment is working appropriately. All pressure vessels and piping are functioning appropriately.
  • Assure all elevators are inspected and functioning appropriately.
  • Assure all sanitation structures are functioning.
  • Assure all first aid supplies are adequate in each facility.