Fire and Facilities Program

UTRGV Staff putting off a fire using a fire extinguisher.

The UTRGV Fire and Facilities Safety Program is responsible for the development, implementation and review of UTRGV’s Fire Safety Program. The Fire Safety Program incorporates fire safety policies and procedures for all UTRGV staff, faculty, students, and guests in order to comply with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1: Fire Code, NFPA 101: Life Safety Code, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The goal of the Fire Protection Program is to protect lives and property on The University of Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) campus in conjunction with state and local fire protection agencies, and to collaborate with these agencies in the prevention of fires and the advancement of fire safety education programs. UTRGV Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management (EHSRM) serves as the primary contact for the local municipalities fire marshals (Edinburg, Harlingen, Brownsville, South Padre Island, Rio Grande City) and is available to assist with any issues concerning the State Fire Marshal's Office. If you have any questions about fire safety issues in your area, and we will provide assistance.

EHSRM Fire Safety personnel work with all of the stakeholders from the UTRGV community regarding Fire and Life Safety compliance issues. These issues include:

  • Review of exiting/egress paths.
  • Review of operational or structural changes such as remodeling, construction or changes of the building's occupancy with regard to life safety systems. When necessary, Interim Life Safety Measures (ILSM) will be implemented to ensure patient, visitor and staff safety.
  • Review of departmental fire safety and evacuation plans and advise on needed refinements or revisions.
  • Routine inspections of all buildings.
  • Fire evacuation drills.

Responsibilities

The Fire Safety Program Manager is charged with overseeing the campus fire protection program. Fire Safety personnel conduct code compliance inspections at all academic, research, clinical, administrative, and housing facilities, and provide training and information to the university community as needed. As the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) in matters of Fire and Life Safety, the program manager is the liaison between the State of Texas Fire Marshal, local fire department, and the campus community.

Fire/Emergency Evacuation Drills

Emergency evacuation drills are mandated under NFPA regulations and are conducted to ensure that occupants of a building are familiar with the process of evacuating a building through safe and efficient use of the building’s means of egress (evacuation routes) and the effective location of designated meeting places. Evacuation drills are intended to replicate how occupants should respond in a real emergency situation so all practices that would be commonly used during a real emergency will also apply during planned evacuation drills. Orderly evacuation and control are the primary purposes of emergency evacuation drills. If you are asked to participate in a fire drill, you are to respond as you would to a real fire situation.

The Fire Drill Program is managed by the EHSRM. Fire drills are conducted according to the following schedule:

  1. Annually in all academic and business buildings.
  2. Annually in clinical and office buildings where there are no in patients and fewer than four patients under anesthesia.
  3. Ambulatory surgery centers are required to perform one fire drill per shift (worked shifts) for every quarter.
  4. Once a semester in all student housing locations and in the University Library.

Fire and Evacuation Assistants

Fire and Evacuations Assistants are assigned throughout the buildings on the campuses to assist in evacuating the building in orderly fashion. They also act as the primary contacts for fire departments who need information at the scene of the fire. Individuals designated as evacuation assistants and crowd managers are required to attend Evacuation Assistant/Fire Extinguisher training provided by the fire safety program. These trainings are compliant with NFPA Life Safety Code 101 and Fire Code 1. Topics include fire hazard awareness, building life safety features, typical crowd management techniques, hands-on fire extinguisher training, and general fire safety awareness. The institution encourages all employees to take Fire Extinguisher training.

Surveillance Program

EHSRM conducts routine inspections of all University owned and leased buildings to ensure compliance with the State Fire Marshal’s Office (NFPA LSC 101 and 1) and best management practices pertaining to fire safety. Through routine building inspections, contact with building occupants and the UTRGV community, fire safety issues are identified and remedied. Building inspections are conducted on an annual basis in all UTRGV facilities.

The Fire Safety Program is charged with inspecting, testing, and maintaining all fire and life safety protection systems, per NFPA applicable codes and standards. The program provides oversight and coordination of contractors inspecting, testing, and maintaining building sprinkler systems, suppression systems, and commercial kitchen suppression systems. Systems such as building fire alarms and emergency lighting systems are inspected regularly and maintained by the Fire Alarm Technicians.

UTRGV Fire and Life Safety Inspection

Campus Engagement

The EHSRM office responds to inquiries from the university community regarding potential fire safety code violations. Common issues include concerns about candles, Christmas trees, holiday decorations, portable heaters, occupancy questions, and construction related issues. Other items include obstructed exits, blocked-open fire doors, and exit signs that need repair. EHSRM staff members investigate each complaint and, when violations exist, the appropriate steps are taken to ensure the issues are resolved. All events that involve an open flame are required to obtain approval from the EHSRM offices.

Equipment

Fire ExtinguisherThe Fire Safety Program is charged with inspecting, testing, and maintaining all fire and life safety protection systems, per NFPA applicable codes and standards. The program provides oversight and coordination of contractors inspecting, testing, and maintaining building sprinkler systems, suppression systems, and commercial kitchen suppression systems. Systems such as building fire alarms and emergency lighting systems are inspected regularly and maintained by the Fire Alarm Technicians.

Portable fire extinguishers are installed and maintained by EHSRM. The department ensures that an adequate number of extinguishers are installed and available for use, annual/monthly inspections are performed, and damaged units are repaired or replaced. Training classes in the proper handling and use of portable fire extinguisher are available here: www.utrgv.edu/training.

Plan Reviews

Any new construction and/or remodel of existing building must be carried out with compliance to NFPA applicable codes. The fire safety program provides professional and technical input regarding occupancy levels, features of life safety, and other related construction issues.

Outreach

The Fire Safety Program, in keeping with the EHSRM mission, participates in outreach to the campus community in the form of presentations and coordination with local fire departments to inform of fire and life safety issues. Fire Extinguisher Training is offered to all members of the campus community on routine basis. Check the EHSRM Training for the next scheduled training.

Fire Safety Program Documents

UTRGV Fire Safety Manual
UTRGV Fire and Life Safety Inspection Form
UTRGV Fire Drill Evaluation Form

Other Related Links

City of Brownsville Fire Department

City of Edinburg Fire Department

City of Harlingen Fire Department

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Texas State Fire Marshall

EHSRM Program Manager

Saul Jauregui

Saul Jauregui, CFI-1, CHMM
EHS Program Manager
EEHSB Bldg. 1.106
Saul.Jauregui@utrgv.edu  
(956) 665-2458

Martha Sanchez

Martha Sanchez
Safety Coordinator
BASFC 1.225A
Martha.Sanchez@utrgv.edu
(956) 882-5929

Julio Cardona

Julio Cardona
Fire Alarm Technician Supervisor
EHABW Bldg. 1.258
Julio.Cardona@utrgv.edu
(956) 665-2794

Alex Arroyo

Alex Arroyo
Fire and Life Safety Technician
EASFC Bldg. 1.51
Alejandro.Arroyo@utrgv.edu
(956) 665-2905

Laurencio Vela

Laurencio Vela
Fire Alarm Technician
EHABW Bldg. 1.258
Laurencio.Vela@utrgv.edu
(956) 665-3357