Hi all. I'm a Residence Hall Director at a small college in Pennsylvania. Since I am the only emergency responsetype on the staff, I have been asked to come up with a training program for our student staff on fire safety and prevention. Does anyone have any ideas on what to cover aside from no candles and don't smoke in your rooms... I'd really appreciate ANY help!
Thanks & Stay Safe ~~Neen
[This message has been edited by Neen5029 (edited September 22, 2000).]
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09-22-2000, 08:32 PM #1Neen5029Firehouse.com Guest
Questions about Fire Safety in College Housing
09-22-2000, 09:21 PM #2daysleeper47Firehouse.com Guest
Hi Neen, welcome to the board.
Ok, I am sure that this is of no help. It is all self knowledge for the most part. But, I am a student at JCU in Clevland and we have the entire dorm floor watch a video put out by FEMA and the US Fire Admin. It is broadcast over the school's closed circuit TV, but we watch it as a floor. You can probably contact the USFA regarding the video. I wish I had the title of it...sorry.
It discusses all of the possibilites of fire in the dorm as well as off-campus housing. It goes into smoking, having parties that can cause fires, as well as electrical appliances, and all the normal fire-causing stuff.
There is also a pamphlet that correspondes ith the video which i just found. I believe the program is called Get Out and Stay Alive. It is sponsored by the USFA and is specially geared towards college campus's and dorm life.
It talks about ways to get out of the room:
like feeling for heat on doors, having an alternate method out, getting out before phoning for help, pulling the alarms and the risk you are taking w/ false alarms, crawling low on the floor, closing the door behind you, and if you cant get out, get someones attention.
Prevention: Dont smoke, the usual stuff, no candles, incense
Protection:Check smoke alarms, have planned escape routes, as well as the importance of taking fire alarms seriously.
Making a Plan: (a check list) Check smoke alarms, find all possible exits, make an escape route, practice your escape route, perform a "home inspection", tell your roommates about the plan.
I can mail you the pamphlet if you like and I recommend that you write to the USFA. I am sure that they can provide you with the video and pamphlets. It is a really good program. Also, give your local fire chief a call, i am sure he has info on this subject.
Hope this helps.
"Looks like you caught yourself a hot one first time out kid."
[This message has been edited by daysleeper47 (edited September 22, 2000).]
09-30-2000, 06:22 PM #3dave1Firehouse.com Guest
Check with other colleges. No use reinventing the wheel.
[This message has been edited by dave1 (edited 12-14-2000).]
10-02-2000, 02:59 AM #4SFDfyrftrFirehouse.com Guest
Try going to the United States Fire Administration web site at www.usfa.fema.gov
and look under Fire Safety and there are a couple of programs that can be ordered or downloaded off the internet. The Get out and Stay Alive program has a video and handouts. The video is about 16 minutes and is well put together. The Fire Safe Student Housing: A guide for campus housing administrators I have not viewed but it might work for you.
Hope this helps you find what you are looking for.
"Fire suppresion is the support staff for fire prevention"
10-05-2000, 03:43 AM #5MetalMedicFirehouse.com Guest
Along with my volunteer firefighter hat, I work full-time as a Police Seargeant at a small regional campus of Ohio State University in Wooster. We are going to do a presentation with the local Fire Department this monday. The plan is to show the GET OUT AND STAY ALIVE video, have the Fire Chief preach about tampering with smoke detectors (our most common problem) and then do a live fire demonstration on the use of a fire extinguisher. We will see how it goes, college students can be a tough audience to get to. We are offering free pizza as "bait" to lure them in!
"Fire Safe Student Housing: A guide for campus housing administrators" is just what is says, geared toward administrators. I doubt your students will be interested in it.
If you haven't tried, see if you can get your local Fire Dept. involved somehow. The have a stake in this and should be willing to do their part.
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
10-05-2000, 01:33 PM #6Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
All of these are good suggestions, and you should pursue them.
What I'd like to reinforce are the following points that you need to get across to these folks:
1. Prevention, prevention, prevention. The best way to avoid fire injuries and fatalities is to not have fires in the first place. No smoking in bed, no dumping ashtrays into the trash until they have been sitting all day or overnight, no open flames, no overloaded electrical sockets or extension cords, etc.
2. Preparation, preparation, preparation. Bad things can happen to anyone at any time. Most college kids don't really believe this (I didn't when I was in college). Stress things like not disabling safety devices (detectors, sprinklers, & extinguishers), not blocking exits or stairways, and stress that they should plan for and practice multiple escape routes from their building in the event of fire.
3. The number one priority in the event of a fire is GET EVERYBODY OUT. In the last 17 years since I first jumped on a fire truck, I've been involved in numerous incidents involving fire injuries and seven fire fatalities. The number one reason for injuries and fatalities in these incidents has been the victims' failure understand that "The number one priority in the event of a fire is GET EVERYBODY OUT". I can't say it enough. Many people's first reaction to a fire is to try to put it out or to try to rescue belongings. Both acts can be, and have been, fatal in countless cases. I think that this is primarily due to the fact that they don't see that "little fire in the couch" (or whatever) to be an immediate threat. They're often very wrong. Maybe you want to add a short video on fire progression to your presentation. There are a few out there, showing how a small fire in a typical residential room can become dangerous or lethal in seconds. Maybe someone here on the forums can point to a specific video for this purpose. If you want shock value, look to the recent incidents at Seton Hall or Bloomsburg to bring in the reality of the danger. That's entirely up to you.
Good luck, you've got a tough audience to play to and an important message to send.
10-05-2000, 07:27 PM #7Neen5029Firehouse.com Guest
Thanks so much for all of your help! All of your replys have given me a lot of good direction! Just to give you all the details, we are giving the presentation to our RA's, and then, for the first time in school history, we are doing fire and safety inspections. Hopefully we can catch all of the problems before we have a major incident.
Any more ideas would be great! and Again, THANKS
10-06-2000, 05:47 AM #8MetalMedicFirehouse.com Guest
First fire inspection eh? You might want to have your local law enforcement on stand-by. If your inspections turn out like ours, I would bet money that you will stumble upon some things that will probably require their attention. They cannot enter housing areas to do searches without probable cause or a search warrant. However, you have a legal right to enter these areas and your observations may be enough probable cause for them to take appropriate action.
I would caution you to communicate with the cops beforehand to be sure this does not end up as a negative publicity thing. Hopefully they will let misdemeanor violations be handled through campus judicial channels. However, if you stumble upon something like a drug selling operation, there obviously is no choice in the matter that it needs to be handled as a criminal case.
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
10-06-2000, 09:54 AM #9Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
Wow. Calm down, man.
She's most likely talking about going around dorm rooms to look around and talk to residents about changing the way they do some things or have their rooms & appliances setup in order to educate them about fire safety, and you're ready to call in DEA, ATF, or whoever else. Geeeez. She's not talking about inspecting row homes in some slum somewhere.
This is pretty simple. Announce that you're doing fire safety inspections well in advance. Do the whole thing in the context of educating the residents, not busting them. Penalties don't have to be involved in this inspection. That's not the point, at least not initially. You can introduce penalties for safety violations later. I guarantee that, if you walk around that dorm with cops, everything you say will be completely lost on the people you're trying to reach.
I agree that there is a time and place for strong-arming on inspection issues, but a program like this is an opportunity to educate, not to punish. I realize that you've got the college law enforcement experience and I realize that you can find illegal operations anwhere (not just in some slum somwhere), but save that for later. I would argue that, on the first pass, you shouldn't even be looking for those things. If somebody's dumb enough to hand themselves to you by letting their bong or their scale sit out, then so be it, but you can always target the bad apples in the barrel later without compromising the educational value of the fire safety program up front.
[This message has been edited by Bob Snyder (edited October 06, 2000).]
10-06-2000, 09:08 PM #10MetalMedicFirehouse.com Guest
Relax Bob.. go back and read my ENTIRE post. You are correct, I have worked in the college environment for 17 years now. What you describe is exactly what will happen. We have announced that we are having inspections well in advance, and there will always be some rocket scientists that will leave their marijunana farm running in their closet (grow lights in a closet, do we have a fire hazard here???) or have their mirrors, razor blades and bindles laying out in plain view.
I NEVER suggested that they should "walk around that dorm with cops" or "call in DEA, ATF, or whoever else". Our police officers do NOT accompany the fire inspectors here and I don't want them to. But, if the inspectors find someone with kiddie porn laying all over their room, I am not willing to ignore it just that time for the sake of not spoiling the atmospher of the fire inspection.
While it may be true that we are "not talking about inspecting row homes in some slum somewhere", I think alot of people have misconceptions about the college life. Just because it is a school environment, doesn't mean crime doesn't happen here. College students are good business for the criminal element. First time away from home, money being pumped in from the folks, transient populations that won't be around four years from now to get you busted by the "DEA, ATF, or whoever else". While the majority of the college population are good people who are working on their educational goals, you need to be prepared for those few that are there for less honest reasons.
As for strong arming inspection issues. I would not anticipate a need for that in a college dorm. Students aren't stupid and usually are more than happy to comply with correction request for fire hazards. Those who are there for the right reasons will do the right thing. They will also appreciate the efforts of the administration to maintain an environment where their acedemic endeavers may be achieved.
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
10-18-2000, 05:22 PM #11bgleasonFirehouse.com Guest
I am the emergency services coordinator for a small private university in southern California. We have about 2000 resident students on 40 acres. We have all the problems you mentioned.
Each year we hold an announced safety and health inspection. all rooms are inspected not only for fire safety, but also for health concerns. (Some of our residents have trouble with cleanliness and hygene.) This is done as an instructional tool.
We also have unannounced fire drills in each of our living areas. These are pretty effective in that LA County fire makes an appearence. (Nothing gets students moving faster than a Q blowing at the street and firefighters in SCBA's in the hallway.)
We emptied three dormitories housing 700 students in less than 2 1/2 minutes. Students not responding to the alarm are subject to disciplinary action.
Hope this helps.
10-19-2000, 07:40 PM #12Neen5029Firehouse.com Guest
Thanks so much!!! you just gave me a great idea for next semester's drills... we have 2 drills per semester... one before and one after 10:30pm... do you think that is enough? I think that I will give our chief a call, and maybe for next semester... get the new engine up here... (after all the time I spent waxing it... I think that I would love to show it off too )
Anyone else have any ideas???
Thanks again and stay safe
10-24-2000, 02:13 AM #13MetalMedicFirehouse.com Guest
We did a fire prevention presentation with the local FD and handed out little dry-erase boards to those who atteneded. The Fire Department and my office went 50/50 on the boards. We plan to leave them in the rooms while we do our next inspection, to get all those who missed the presentation. They have the FD and out patches on them, and the slogan "SMOKE DETECTORS SAVE LIVES" and of course 9-1-1 and our phone number. They aren't very expensive, I think we bought 1000 for 67 cents each. Maybe you could look into getting some and have the firefighters at the doors handing them to students as they enter the building following the drill.
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
10-24-2000, 10:05 AM #14Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
>> While it may be true that we are "not talking about inspecting row homes in some slum somewhere", I think alot of people have misconceptions about the college life. Just because it is a school environment, doesn't mean crime doesn't happen here.
You're not telling me anything I don't already know. I've been through undergrad & grad school...even taught college courses for a few years. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. Bad people are everywhere...I've gotten used to that.
My point is simply this: educate first, punish second. I guarantee that the educational value is lost on a lot of (completely innocent) people if they perceive your fire prevention program as a way to get the cops into their dorm rooms to check things out. It doesn't matter what YOUR motive REALLY is, just how THEY perceive it. You might be there "just in case" but you will be perceived by some as being there with a more active purpose. I was one of those kids once...got away with a few misdemeanors myself back in the day...I wouldn't have been thrilled then if I had to submit to inspections involving campus police without probable cause, regardless of whether there would have been anything there for them to find. (I wouldn't have been thrilled about inspections WITH probable cause, either, but I'd have understood them.)
Anyway, I mean no disrespect to what you do. I'm all for getting the murderers, rapists & the crack dealers off the street, wherever that street happens to be. I'm also all for police, fire & EMS working together. I'm just not convinced that the objectives of fire prevention & safety education are best served by being mixed up with other issues that might be perceived as punishment or control.
10-24-2000, 12:58 PM #15MetalMedicFirehouse.com Guest
let me make this VERY clear... I am NOT advocating a search without "probable cause". I do not even beleive that the police need to be in the building when the fire inspections take place. My advise was, to have the police be aware that you will be doing a fire inspection. Hopefully their services will not be needed, but if the fire inspectors stumble into something SERIOUS, they have NO choice but to report it (at least in Ohio, since it is against the law to not report a FELONY to the police). I do beleive I said that we can overlook "misdemeanors" is the interest of public relations (the Housing Staff may take issue with some items, but that is administrative and not criminal). My entire point was to make Neen5029 aware that she may encounter something during the inspections that will require a police response, and the time to prepare for that is not while you are standing in the middle of a Meth Lab.
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
[This message has been edited by MetalMedic (edited October 29, 2000).]
10-29-2000, 09:03 AM #16MetalMedicFirehouse.com Guest
Just so some of you don't think I am some kind of an ogar... we just completed our anual fire inspections on my campus. I am happy to say that there were NO problems found that required police intervention. Oh yes, we were available should something had come up, but the worst violations noticed were a keg of beer (free flowing beer is prohibited on campus) and three smoke detectors covered with plastic wrap. These were all handled by the Director of Housing internally.
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
10-30-2000, 07:28 PM #17Neen5029Firehouse.com Guest
Well, here we go... our training is this week... Thursday to be exact... Then we are doing the inspections the 6th through the 17th of November. I don't know how I managed this one, but I'll be in Las Vegas during the biggest part of the inspections. I haven't heard any back lash from our students yet... So I'm keeping my fingers crossed... I'll let you know how everything goes...
10-30-2000, 11:12 PM #18MetalMedicFirehouse.com Guest
Going to be in Las Vegas during the inspections??? Neen, I have got to meet you sometime and learn your trade secrets!!!
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
10-31-2000, 07:59 PM #19Neen5029Firehouse.com Guest
I'm not sure how I managed that one either... but hey... I'd rather be playing in the sun out there then freezing out here...
[This message has been edited by Neen5029 (edited October 31, 2000).]
11-03-2000, 02:21 PM #20KniselyFirehouse.com Guest
Check the website www.campus-firewatch.com
There is some very valuable information and resources to find more. There is also an on-line newsletter from this site.
In PA check the State Fire Commissioner's Office, Public Education Specialist.
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