Photo of student extinguishing a simulated fire at an EH&S Campus Fire Safety Day on campus

Protecting lives and property

Our proactive fire prevention program is founded on education, facility oversight, and incident investigation.

Review the Fire Safety Guidelines (PDF) Open the Iowa State University Fire Log (PDF)

Policies and procedures

All faculty, staff, students, and visitors to Iowa State facilities are responsible for the prevention of fires. Departmental supervisors should review with employees the information covered in the Fire Safety Guidelines manual and discuss any departmental procedures that may vary. You can find more information for your type of work below.

Candles and other open flames can only be used with appropriate permission. They pose a great fire risk and violate fire safety codes. To learn more, visit the Candles, Open Flames ISU Policy.

Fire extinguishers at Iowa State University meet regulatory requirements and allow trained employees to attempt to extinguish small fires. EH&S offers hands-on and online training courses in Workday Learning and Canvas (students) that cover all aspects of fire extinguisher use. Fire extinguisher training is required for all university staff on an annual basis. If you need assistance, please contact

EH&S installs, maintains, and inspects fire extinguishers at Iowa State University. Departments are responsible for charges related to fire extinguishers in departmental areas.  Please contact EH&S with concerns about the placement or selection of fire extinguishers. Any extinguisher found to be faulty, discharged, or missing must be reported to EH&S at (515) 294-5359 or

Only attempt to use an extinguisher if…

  • You have been trained.
  • The fire alarm was activated and 911 was called.
  • The fire is small and there is very little smoke.
  • You have an exit.
  •  The extinguisher is rated for materials involved in the fire.

Use the P.A.S.S. Method

  • Pull the pin.
  • Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the handle.
  • Sweep side to side.



The use and storage of flammable and combustible liquids must comply with State Fire Marshal Division rules. Below are guides to the most common regulations relating to flammable and combustible liquids.


Combustible: A liquid with a flash point over 100°F (38°C).

  • Examples: diesel fuel, motor oil.
  • Hazard: May produce ignitable vapors at elevated temperatures.

Flammable: A liquid with a flash point under 100°F.

  • Examples: gasoline, acetone, toluene, diethyl ether, alcohols.
  • Hazard: May produce ignitable vapors at normal ambient temperatures.


  • Ensure that all stored containers are in good condition, closed, and properly labeled.
  • Use flammable liquids and combustible liquids in a fume hood to prevent the buildup of ignitable vapor/air mixtures or inhalation of toxic vapors or gases. 
  • Avoid placing ignition sources (hot materials, flames, or sparking equipment) in the general vicinity of these liquids. If possible, replace open flames with electrical heating.
  • Ground equipment likely to produce a static spark.
  • Implement additional safety precautions when flammable and combustible liquids are heated to or above their flash points.
  • Compressed or liquefied gases present special fire hazards. Refer to the EH&S Gas Cylinder Safety Guidelines (PDF).

Contact between incompatible chemicals presents a serious fire risk. Proper handling and storage procedures should be followed. 

Storage cabinets

No more than 10 gallons (37.9L) of flammable liquids may be kept outside of an approved storage cabinet at any time. Flammable and combustible liquid storage cabinets shall meet appropriate NFPA standards and may not be modified in any way. It is not recommended to ventilate storage cabinets. If not ventilated, storage cabinet vent openings shall be sealed with the bungs supplied with the cabinet. 

Safety cans

Up to 5.3 gallons (20L) of flammable and combustible liquids may be stored in UL- or FM-listed safety cans. Safety cans must be constructed from metal and come equipped with a flame arrestor and spring-loaded caps on both the filling and pouring spouts to prevent spillage when dropped. The double-perforated metal surface of the flame-arrestor screen prevents flames from entering the container. Safety cans are available for both dispensing products and collecting waste. Safety cans shall not be modified. Many consumer portable fuel containers available at stores do not meet safety can standards.

Refrigerator storage

Commercially available domestic refrigerators contain built-in ignition sources and shall not be used to store flammable liquids or explosive chemicals. Light bulbs, switches, temperature controls, standard plugs, motor-starting relays, thermal overload devices, and heater strips (for frost control) are all ignition sources.

Anyone who needs a refrigerator to store flammable liquids or explosives should use refrigerators specifically designed and approved for such use. Store flammable liquids requiring cool/cold storage in refrigerators/freezers manufactured for that purpose. Modification of general-purpose (domestic) refrigerators or freezers for flammable liquid storage is NOT permitted. Labels are available from EH&S.

Before using a space heater, contact Facilities Planning & Management at (515) 294-5100 or use FPM's report a problem online option to ensure there isn't a mechanical problem causing the colder temperatures in your office. In appropriate situations, approved space heaters are available.

Approved space heaters

The two space heaters approved for office use can be purchased from the Grainger catalog in cyBUY, which is now accessed through the procurement icon in Workday. The two models are:

The Dayton space heater also is available through the university's Central Stores.

Correct use of space heaters

  • It's plugged directly into the wall (no multi-plug power strips or extension cords).
  • Combustible materials, including wastebaskets, are at least 3 feet away.
  • It's operated only in the manner for which it is listed.