Fire Safety

Columbia University Irving Medical Center's fire safety team keeps our community safe from fire. We maintain fire alarm systems, fire suppression systems, and fire extinguishers in all campus buildings. We also manage fire and emergency planning, fire drills, fire permits and compliance, hot work, and event fire safety.

For laboratory and research, occupational, environmental, and additional safety resources, see Environmental Health and Safety.

For general safety information, see Columbia University Public Safety.

For fire safety at Columbia University's Morningside campus, see Fire Safety at Morningside.

Questions or concerns about fire safety at the medical center? Email us at

Know Your Fire Safety Basics

Review these crucial safety guides (.pdf):

Be Prepared: Know Who to Call


  • CUIMC Public Safety: 212-305-7979
  • Morningside/Manhattanville Public Safety: 212-854-5555
  • To reach the New York City Police and Fire Departments or to request an ambulance, call 911.


CUIMC Campus

  • Facilities Management and Campus Services (any non-urgent questions related to fire safety devices): 212-305-HELP (4357), option 3
  • Campus Life Safety and Regulatory Compliance (questions specific to fire safety): or call a member of our team
  • Environmental Health and Safety: 212-305-6780
  • Public Safety: 212-305-8100

Morningside Campus

  • Facilities: 212-854-2222
  • Fire Safety: 212-854-8518
  • Environmental Health and Safety: 212-854-8749
  • Public Safety: 212-854-2797

Fire Safety Policies

Questions or concerns about fire safety policies at the medical center? Email

Hot Work Permits

New York City Fire Code requires hot work permits for all contractors and maintenance staff when welding, grinding, thawing, brazing, soldering, cutting, or using any heat-, flame-, or spark-producing equipment. Permits are valid for the day, the operation, and to the torch operator and fire guard team (with valid FDNY certificates of fitness) for which they are issued.

Notify us at at least 48 hours in advance of the intended hot work.

For non-residential buildings, hot work permits are issued in the Campus Life Safety and Regulatory Compliance office in Black Building B-12.  For residential properties, permits are issued by the CUIMC Office of Housing Services in Bard Hall.

Fire Protection Devices

If you have work scheduled at CUIMC that requires fire alarm devices (smoke detector or water flow) to be disabled or the entire building taken offline, request this work from Campus Life Safety and Regulatory Compliance at least 48 hours in advance. Your project or facilities manager must also submit a work request 48 hours in advance to ask for Facilities Engineering support for drain downs (both branch and risers). If emergency work must be performed after-hours, notify Campus Life Safety and Regulatory Compliance to take a building offline and disable affected fire alarm points.

Fire Drills

New York State Education Law and the New York City Fire Code require that fire drills be conducted in all campus buildings to familiarize occupants with response procedures in an emergency.

Corridor Clearance

In an emergency, it's extremely critical to keep corridors uncluttered. Any obstructions will compromise a full building evacuation, especially where visibility is reduced.   Download pdf.


Open Flames

New York City Fire Code and CUIMC policy prohibit the use of any open flames, such as candles and burning incense, in campus buildings. Some exceptions are made at the discretion of the campus fire safety team.

Portable Space Heaters

Using a portable space heater can lead to fire hazards if it is not approved and operated properly. Before you buy or use a space heater at CUIMC, call Facilities Management at 212-305-HELP (4357), option 3, to request a heating assessment. If necessary, we will conduct an electrical evaluation to determine the appropriate size heater.

Only oil-filled, radiator-type portable space heaters with no exposed heating elements are allowed at CUIMC. The unit must be UL-rated, with inspection tag intact, and have a grounded plug.

For more information, review our fire safety bulletin.

Solid Alcohol, or Sterno, Fuel Use

Departments planning a catering event utilizing Sterno fuel should contact the Faculty Club to ensure that they follow safety protocols.

Upholstered Furniture

CUIMC complies with California Technical Bulletin 133, which requires all upholstered furniture in dormitory and hospital occupancies follow the mattress-testing standards of the New York City Fire Code.

All furniture must be purchased through an approved purchase order processed through Columbia University Purchasing.