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    Mar 2001

    Default Schools Open---Officials Concern Increases

    Gainesville Florida...

    Fire Officials concern for the safety of students increases as thousand of students return to the University of Florida. Across the state....the same concerns are always there.

    September 09. 2002 6:30AM

    Fire risks increase with return of UF students

    Sun staff writer

    The annual return of 58,000 college students brings with it an increased danger of fires in and around Gainesville, officials say.

    "We do see a higher incidence of fires when students are in town," said Gainesville Fire Rescue spokesman Stuart Schwartz.

    Alachua County firefighters see a spike in fires when students are settling in at their new apartments and homes, said Justin Lagotic, spokesman for Alachua County Fire Rescue.

    One of the biggest mistakes students make is putting boxes on top of stoves, Lagotic said.

    "They'll run out of space on the counter or floor and they'll put boxes on top of the stove," Lagotic said. "One of the boxes could hit the burner control knob."

    There is also an increase in candle fires when students come back to town, Lagotic said.

    People who like candles should buy ones that don't burn quickly or drip a lot, Lagotic said. They also should use sturdy candle holders, keep candles away from boxes and drapes, and never leave the room when a candle is burning.

    Many residence halls, apartments and houses have safety measures such as fire alarms and fire doors. But that doesn't help if students thwart their purposes, officials said.

    Students sometimes put plastic bags over smoke detectors in residence halls so they can cook illegally, prop open fire doors in escape towers and remove fire extinguishers, Schwartz said.

    Some residence halls also have sprinkler systems, which can save lives because they can extinguish the fire before it spreads out of a room and can douse the smoke, which kills people far more often than flames do, Schwartz said.

    Nine of the 28 UF residence halls - Beaty, Buckman, Fletcher, Hume, Lakeside, Murphree, Sledd, Springs and Thomas - have sprinkler systems, said Mark Hill, assistant director of housing for facilities management at UF.

    Florida law mandates sprinklers in dorms built after 1996. UF is adding sprinkler systems in Diamond and Corry villages and plans to equip all UF residence halls with sprinkler systems in the next 10 years.

    To make sure fire laws are being obeyed, the state fire marshal conducts inspections at UF's residence halls every year, Schwartz said.

    In addition, residence hall staff occasionally check electrical outlets in individual residence hall rooms to make sure they are being used properly.

    All dorm rooms have smoke detectors. When there is an alarm, residence hall staff have to check each room to make sure nobody's inside, Hill said.

    Other fire safety tips include:
    -Locate your fire extinguishers, make sure the needle is in the green area, and learn how to work it.

    -Figure out fire escape routes when you move in.

    -Consider getting a fire ladder to hang from a window if you live on the second floor or higher.

    -Locate your smoke detectors and test them.

    -Determine if your parents' insurance would cover your belongings in case of a fire and if not, consider getting renter's insurance.

    -Locate your sprinkler system and make sure not to hit it with large items when moving.

    -Know when your roommates are spending the night elsewhere so that if there is a fire, you can knowledgeably tell firefighters if the apartment is empty.

    -If there is a fire, get yourself, your roommates and your pets out if possible, but never go back into a burning building.
    Last edited by captstanm1; 09-10-2002 at 11:09 AM.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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