Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Division of Emergency Preparedness & Coordination

Contact Information

Mat Chibbaro, P.E.
Fire Marshal
Paul Richards, P.E.
Deputy Fire Marshal

Division of the Fire Marshal
Office of Research Services
National Institutes of Health
Building 15G-2
Phone: (301) 496-0487
TTY: (301) 435-1908

Hydrant Test Crew

(Photo above) DFM has maintained all on-site services through the pandemic. Shown is the DFM crew about to depart for the Poolesville campus for building inspections and fire hydrant testing (L-R Senior Fire Protection Engineer Ike Yoo, P.E., Assistant Fire Marshal Steve Davis, CFPI-III, CFEI, CVFI, Deputy Fire Marshal Paul Richards, P.E., Senior Fire Protection Engineer & Program Manager Zenia Velazquez, P.E., and Senior Fire Protection Calvin Kane, P.E.).

ORS breadcrumbDFM > Division of Fire Marshal FAQs

Division of Fire Marshal FAQs


How do I report smoke, odor, fire, or other emergency on the Bethesda Campus?

Dial 911 from a desk phone (if safe to do so) or 301-496-9911 from a cell phone (once you are in a safe place). This connects you directly to NIH’s Emergency Communications Center. It’s a good idea to program 301-496-9911 into your cell phone. If you are inside a building, activate a fire alarm pull station on your way out to warn other occupants. When in doubt, make a call - many fires spread unnecessarily due to delayed fire department notification. Upon the fire department’s arrival, report to them what you know about the emergency.

How do I report a fire hazard on the Bethesda Campus?

Report a hazard by calling the Division of the Fire Marshal (DFM) at 301-496-0487 or use the fire hazard reporting tool on the DFM web site. You may remain anonymous, but it helps DFM gather information if we have a contact. If you are unsure whether a situation is hazardous, DFM would always prefer that you ask.

Are space heaters permitted in NIH facilities?

They are prohibited in labs, patient care areas, and clinic. In other areas, see DFM’s Administrative Interpretation 17-7 here for the approval procedure and required heater features: The procedure begins by contacting ORF to investigate the heating system in your workplace. If it is determined by ORF that an area cannot be adequately heated, written approval will be provided by the Facility Manager assigned to the building to support the purchase of the heater. ORF Facility Management website:

Can I use a portable cooking appliance in my office area?

See DFM’s Administrative Interpretation 17-8 for the types of appliances allowed, locations permitted, and use restrictions:

↑ Return to the top of the page

How do I request a permit to do temporary cooking, use a barbecue grill, or sponsor a food truck at the NIH Bethesda Campus?

See DFM’s Administrative Interpretation 20-2 here for the approval procedures and required equipment: This involves both a fire inspection to obtain a Mobile and Temporary Cooking Permit and a food safety inspection from the Division of Occupational Health and Safety.

How do I request a permit to perform hot work at the NIH Bethesda Campus?

See DFM’s Administrative Interpretation 20-3 here for the policy and procedures:

Are laboratory doors permitted to be propped open?

No. These doors protect the labs, stairs, and exit corridors to contain fire and heat. They are also an integral part of maintaining negative pressure in the labs to prevent spread of toxins and smoke. If propped open, fire and smoke spread can endanger occupants and research projects can be at risk for increased fire damage. You can hold a door open manually to assist a colleague, but you may not use any device to prop or chock it open.

↑ Return to the top of the page

Can I place equipment or materials in corridors?

See NIH Manual Chapter 1361, Corridor Utilization: for the minimum widths and allowed uses of corridors in buildings on NIH-owned properties.

↑ Return to the top of the page

Can I store materials in stairwells?

No. Materials can block egress travel or reduce width, causing a delay in exiting. Combustible materials can also fuel a fire that could prevent use of the stair for safe egress.

↑ Return to the top of the page

Why can’t an exit door be blocked or locked for exiting from an area?

All exit doors must remain available for evacuation even if locked from the outside for security. Exits are used for emergencies other than fires, including active shooters and hazardous materials incidents. Large assembly rooms are designed with multiple exits to allow the number of occupants to exit within a reasonable time.

↑ Return to the top of the page

Can I use an extension cord or power strip?

Extension cords cannot be used as a substitute for permanent wiring; approach ORF if you need additional electric capacity. Listed power strips can be used if you carefully ensure that the items plugged in do not exceed their capacity. Neither are designed for higher power appliances; for example, microwaves and refrigerators - these should be plugged directly into electric power outlets.

↑ Return to the top of the page

Can I do small cosmetic projects for my institute?

Follow the Institute Self-Performance Process: Even very minor work such as shelving, screens, and furniture can obstruct exits, fire suppression systems, and fire alarm devices. Obtain DFM guidance before work is done and material or equipment is purchased.

↑ Return to the top of the page

What processes and codes do I need to follow as a project officer?

On NIH-owned facilities, NIH Manual Chapter 1370, Fire Protection and Life Safety Building Permit Process at outlines the process and responsibilities of various entities. Requirements and codes to follow are found in:

↑ Return to the top of the page

Are Additional requirements in place for work in Building 10?

Section 3-10 of the FDM (see above) outlines requirements for Project Notifications, Above-Ceiling Work Permits, Construction Risk Analysis, and Interim Life Safety Measures. The Clinical Center also has a multitude of their own policies to follow.

↑ Return to the top of the page

Who oversees fire evacuation drills and trains Emergency Managers in NIH buildings on the Bethesda Campus?

The ORS Division of Emergency Management:

↑ Return to the top of the page

Who handles fire extinguisher maintenance in NIH buildings on the Bethesda Campus?

The ORS Division of Fire and Rescue Services (NIH Fire Department) services all NIH-owned fire extinguishers. Institute-owned extinguishers are the responsibility of the respective institutes.

↑ Return to the top of the page