Mock dorm fire emphasizes safety

The Environmental Health and Safety Office Fire Safety Office hosted its second annual mock dorm fire safety event on the afternoon of Sept. 9 in conjunction with the Georgia Office of Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner. The event was held as part of the National Campus Fire Safety Month, an initiative launched in 2005 in order to drive down the number of fire related deaths on college campuses across the country.

“Wherever you go, firefighters will tell you that the last thing they want to do during a fire is search and rescue. What we want to do is to show people how quickly fires can devastate a space and get them thinking about fire safety,” said John Oxendine, State Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner.

In preparation for the event, Housing built a dorm style room using spare furniture and bedding. The space covered enough area to house a bed, desk and chair, similar to those found in freshman dorms. After a brief introduction, a spark triggered a fire in the room.

The fire grew large and spread quickly across the space, engulfing the entire room in flames within a minute. Regional fire departments were on hand to extinguish the fire after it had reached a high intensity level.

The aftermath of the fire showed a grim scene. Everything from the mattress to the bed frame was charred, and smoke continued to rise for several minutes after the flame was extinguished.

At one point during the fire, the crowd voluntarily stepped back due to the intensity of the heat, which could be felt over 50-60 feet away.

“I thought it was a really great experience and I was really surprised at how quickly the entire thing went up in flames. I was also really amazed at how hot the fire felt even from far away,” said Chris Sanders, sixth-year ME.

“I was really surprised at how quickly the room caught on fire, it really shows how you can’t just brush fire safety aside,” said Angela Rice, CHBE ’09.

“The main thing we want people to take away from this event is to take fire safety seriously and make sure they know what to do in case of a fire. If a fire starts in your dorm you have less than a minute to make it out of the dorm,” said Chad Arp, the Fire Safety Educator for the Cherokee County Office of Fire-Emergency Services.

While personal safety in the wake of armed robberies around campus has been a topic of concern, Oxendine hopes that people also pay attention fire safety.

“You always hear about being safe when going home at night, and not being alone by yourself, but you rarely hear about fire safety. We want to get students active about fire safety so that when they find someone doing something unsafe, they can inform and prevent fires from occurring,” Oxendine said.