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  1. #1
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    Default Prosecutors Investigate Fire Code Violations at UCONN

    This has been brewing for a while. When this was first discovered UCONN firefighters were hired as fire watch 24/7 because of the sprinkler problem.

    Looks like jail time for these administrators if they allowed students to stay in the dorms knowing that they did not meet fire code. Think that will send a message?

    Coincidentally, a fire in a dorm at the University of Hartford today left 300 students looking for a place to stay Dorm fire
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    Three prosecutors assigned to UConn investigation

    (Rocky Hill-AP, Jan. 28, 2006 2:15 PM) _ Three prosecutors are investigating whether criminal charges should be filed against UConn officials involved in construction of dorms later found to have fire and safety code violations.

    Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano says the prosecutors specialize in housing code issues and will work with state police.

    Morano tells the Hartford Courant that his office is coordinating a complex and painstaking investigation.

    In September, U-Conn police removed boxes of documents from the school's architecture and engineering office, which has overseen the U-Conn 2000 project.

    Those documents indicate a contractor told school officials that the sprinklers in the Charter Oak Suites were inappropriate for a building housing 650 students.

    Prosecutors want to know if U-Conn officials allowed students to move into the buildings while knowing they didn't meet code.
    Last edited by KenNFD1219; 01-28-2006 at 11:15 PM.
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  2. #2
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    It isn't like there wasn't a major dorm fatal fire within 100 miles of their campus in the last five years

    I posted this before. My son and I went to look at Univ. of Hartford two years ago when he was looking at schools. It was a dump. The dorm they showed us (not the one in the picture for this fire, but the one they had a fire in 9/2005), had no sprinklers, no smoke detectors in the rooms, and only had heat detectors in the elevator lobbies. Needless to say, he is not going there.

    My son's gf played hoops and looked at UConn, as did a friend of my daughter. They both stated what a dump the school was.

    I have kids in two colleges; Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston and James Madison Univ. in Harrisonburg, VA. Both schools have personnel dedicated to fire safety. Many colleges have this type of commitment to fire protection. That should be a primary consideration when you are looking at schools with your kids.

    Off-campus housing is another story...
    UMD apartment turns into death trap
    Posted Friday, January 27 2006 01:18:57 am

    By Cait Nordehn


    On Tuesday morning a fire killed 22 year old University of Maryland senior David Ellis in his off-campus apartment in College Park, Maryland. Seven other students who also lived in the six-unit apartment building escaped without injury.

    One of the residents who escaped, senior Heather Arner, called 911. The fire department responded to the call where they found Ellis unconscious in his apartment. He was taken to the Washington Adventist Hospital where they were unable to revive him. Prince George's County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady reported that his death was caused by smoke inhalation.

    The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Officials are working to determine the cause and origin of the blaze.

    The building where the fire occurred is known as one of the Knox Box buildings. Called the Knox Boxes for their distinctive shape, they are commonly rented by students at the University. They are attractive off campus housing options for students seeking to live beyond the rules of university housing. However, the buildings are also notorious for having numerous fire violations and are often kept in a decrepit state.

    Brady said the basement where Ellis lived was a “death trap.” He said that the living room and kitchen were, “the size of a closet,” and too narrow to escape from. The windows were also stated as being, “so small that a normal sized person could not get through them.” Ellis, who was found in his bedroom, only had one way in and out.

    Adding to the impossibility of escape was the smoke detector, which was found to be non-functional. Additionally, the building lacked a sprinkler system.

    Before the fire Ellis’ building had failed to meet area fire codes, yet, nothing had been done to improve the situation. When asked what the fire department would do to improve the conditions in the Knox Box residences Brady stated that, “It is College Park’s responsibility to see that these buildings meet fire codes.” He insisted, however, that the fire department would assist College Park with these laws and codes.

    Messages seeking comment for this story were not returned by the UMD office of communications.

    According to reports, the University, along with the fire department, has taken steps to pass out information on fire safety to College Park residents. They also reported that they were inspecting their smoke detectors.

    Ellis, a disc jockey at the campus radio station, is the second University of Maryland student to be killed by a fire in less then a year. On April 30, 2005, senior Michael Scrocca was killed in his off campus housing. That blaze was ruled to be arson, though no arrests have been made. What is known is that at 4 a.m., after a party, someone poured gasoline around the house where Scrocca slept and started the fire that killed him. A gas can that had been at a neighbors home the previous day was found 100 feet away on the porch of the charred house.

  3. #3
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    My little sister goes to JMU. She loves it, although I can't say I've been there to do a fire inspection...

    One of the guys in my department went to visit his son at school a few months ago. He lives in an off-campus multi bedroom house with several other people. Your typical house with a bunch of college guys so the place was a basic dump. The first day he was there visiting, he went to the store and bought a handful of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. There weren't any functioning anywhere in the house.

    Funny sidebar, we went to a CO alarm activation a few weeks ago. I thought it was kinda wierd that the malfunctioning battery powered detector which was quite old had the family's last name written on it with a marker. Curiosity got the best of me so I had to ask why they wrote their name on it. Apparently, they would send it with their kids when they would sleep over at a friend's house.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  4. #4
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    Connecticut posting #1...

    Hey George...did ya hear this one before your post above?

    Dormitory Fire Traced To Dryer Duct
    January 29, 2006
    By KATIE MELONE, Courant Staff Writer WEST HARTFORD -- A Saturday morning fire in the attic of a University of Hartford dormitory started when an illegal duct hooked to a set of clothes dryers overheated and ignited, a Hartford fire official said.

    No one was injured, but at least 23 students who live in the Park River Residence Hall will be moved to other housing. The rest of the 220 students who live in the 17-year-old dorm returned to their rooms late Saturday night. Fire and school officials were unsure when the displaced students would be able to go back.


    Hartford Fire Prevention Inspector Roger Martin said he and a city mechanical inspector had definitively determined that the duct violated state fire code. He said the type of duct used in the dorm is often referred to as "flex duct" because of its give, and is constructed with a wire coil and plastic. Flex duct is typically used with heating and cooling systems, but clothes dryers should be fitted instead with ducts made of metal, a material better suited than plastic to withstand the hot exhaust that clothes dryers emit, Martin said.

    Martin said late Saturday night that school officials have been ordered to inspect every other dormitory on campus to see whether the same problem exists and to report their findings to city officials.

    "We're working to determine if any other installations were illegal," Martin said.

    Meanwhile, questions also have emerged about the fire alarm system. It worked, but Martin said there were reports some students in the building did not hear it.

    The fire alarm system will be checked over the next few days, including audible tests to determine if the alarms can be heard all over the dormitory. University security will post 24-hour fire watches in the residence hall until the alarm system is approved by city officials, Martin said.

    A member of the University of Hartford Parents Association said the issue would certainly come up at the group's next meeting, if not raised first by the university liaisons to the group.

    "These things happen," said Robert Pearston, a Cromwell resident and parent of a freshman. "UConn has had its share of code violation situations too. I'm confident the university has done what it can. I don't think it was anything deliberate."

    Another parent, who requested anonymity, said news of the code violation concerned her, citing the 2000 dormitory fire at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., that killed three students and injured 58 others.

    "You know you go back to the fire at Seton Hall and you want and hope your child is being protected, that everything is under code," she said. "And when it's not, that's when you become concerned."

    David Isgur, a spokesman for the university, said he could not comment on the code violation because he had not gotten official word of it from the fire marshal's office.

    "We will be working with the fire marshal to look at when we get the official word of the cause and particulars of the fire and working to correct or deal with whatever that was," he said.

    A Hartford building official was scheduled to arrive on the campus Saturday about 7 p.m. to inspect the dorm with University of Hartford campus safety and residential life employees. Cleanup and repair work will begin today, Isgur said.

    Hartford fire officials were called to the campus about 5:30 a.m., but students were returned to their dorms after firefighters and campus safety could not find any fire in the building, Martin said. A few residents said they could smell smoke.

    Firefighters were unable to get access to the area of the attic where the fire was eventually detected, but used their thermal-imaging cameras that sense heat, and nothing registered at the time, Martin said.

    Thinking the ordeal was over, students returned to their beds, but were roused again about 8 a.m. when the fire department was called again by the university.

    The fire, which ignited in a duct connected to a fourth-floor laundry room, spread into the attic and ran along the length of the building, Martin said.

    "When you walked in the hall you smelled a lot more smoke than what it was before," said Kelly Pepenella, 21, a senior from Manorville, N.Y. "The entire top of the building had smoke billowing out of it. When they opened up a hole in the roof you saw the flames."

    Martin said firefighters cut holes in the roof to reach the source and were able to extinguish the fire in about 45 minutes.

    Martin said the sprinklers in the attic worked, or else the fire could have been much worse.

    "We're talking about a four-story, wood building, and without sprinklers that fire would have run unchecked throughout the building and caused major damage," Martin said.

    Evacuated students stood in small groups outside the dormitory throughout the morning, most in pajama bottoms, some in flip-flops and slippers. Some smoked cigarettes on the stoop of a nearby student center as they waited for access to parts of the dorm that were not damaged.

    "I should not be awake right now," said Jeff Thorndike, 19, a sophomore from Florham Park, N.J., who said he arrived home from a party just a few minutes before the first alarm sounded.

    A fire in the Poe dormitory at the school in 2004 displaced about 70 students. Investigators ruled out arson, but closed the investigation without being able to pinpoint a cause.

  5. #5
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    The State of Connecticut in general, and UConn in particular among others, have become a complete and utter embarrasment to the residents of this state.

    Hell, I'd say we're worse than New Jersey but our graft is so inept and amateur, that would be an insult to them

    Regarding UCon <-- notice, one "n", they got to be so out of control that this story happened:

    UConn 2000, which was the first $1Billion building program, exempted UConn from the general state laws about having the State DPW contract the construction and the State Fire Marshal & Building Inspector performing plan approval & inpsections on all state-owned buildings. UConn was to do their own contracting & inspections (hmmmm....)

    They weren't, however, exempted from a seperate section of the law regarding "high rises" --

    Built a 5 story building, they called the State Building Inspector who told them they'd have to inspect it as a high rise.

    UConn called them back that afternoon and said, "Never mind. We're going to bury the first floor so it'll only have four stories above grade." Which thye rushed to do -- built a retain wall around the building to create a light well, then back-filled so the old 1st story was now below grade. So what remained above grade no longer qualified as a "high rise"

    Gee, that shouldn't set off any alarm bells in anyones head that something stinks.

  6. #6
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    Funny thing is the state legislatures get to write the laws, but often times make state buildings and facilities exempt from fire codes.

    Take Massachusetts for example. State law required high rises to be retrofitted and sprinklered by a certain date, but state owned high rises were either made exempt or given a delayed date for completion.

    More of my distaste and distrust for legislators, politicians, and many government employees.
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  7. #7
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    Don't forget the Feds don't have to comply with any fire codes if they don't want too!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    No, I didn't. My recollection is that they had a job in the dorms in 9/2005. I know this because I told my son about it and he was already at Wentworth.

    You would think that with all the prestige that UConn brings to the state that they would take a little better care of it.

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    Simply another example of how little we think of firesafety in this country. It's amazing that we don't lose more people in college dorm fires every year.

    That being said, there are some colleges that are making efforts towards a more firesafe campus. One example was the college my former department in Vermont covered. Not only were they in the process of retrofittting all thier older dorms with sprinklers, but the new dorm they built 2 years ago was fully sprinklered though not required to by code. They also sponsor a student staffed fire department and recently built them a beautiful new live-in station.

  10. #10
    Forum Member MetalMedic's Avatar
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    I bet the Knox Company who makes the Fire Department key vaults just loves the fact that this name has been give to these houses....
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    The building where the fire occurred is known as one of the Knox Box buildings. Called the Knox Boxes for their distinctive shape, they are commonly rented by students at the University. They are attractive off campus housing options for students seeking to live beyond the rules of university housing. However, the buildings are also notorious for having numerous fire violations and are often kept in a decrepit state.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

    "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber Diane E's Avatar
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    Default On a similar note, it's not just dorms...

    Saturday, January 28, ABC World News Tonight (two video clips): http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/

    Why Are So Many College Students Dying in Fires?
    Dozens Have Lost Their Lives in the Past Five Years, Many in Off-Campus Housing


    "...College students typically don't think anything is going to happen to them," said Pete Piringer of the Montgomery County Fire Department. "That is why it is important to expect the unexpected."

    MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md., Jan. 28, 2006 — David Ellis never had a chance when fire blocked the door of his basement apartment last week near the University of Maryland.

    Ellis' landlord had been cited because the windows were too small to fit through. It was enough to make this father move his daughter out of the building.

    "For some reason I had in mind it was a quaint, quaint college building," said the father, Gordon Domaschk. "And obviously it was a little too quaint."

    In the past five years, 82 students have died in college fires, a majority of them within two miles of school.

    Simulations show it can take just moments for a typical college student's room to go up in flames.

    Off-Campus Danger

    Almost 80 percent of college fire fatalities happen off campus, where students often crowd into older buildings without sprinklers or updated electrical systems, according to Ed Comeau with the Center for Campus Fire Safety. Alcohol is a common factor.

    "Many of the fires that we see in college housing, in fact [the] vast majority of them, are preventable," Comeau said. "There are steps that can be taken prior to the fire to ensure that it didn't have the fatal outcome we see."

    When a fire tore through a 136-year-old house near Miami University in Ohio last April, three students were killed --including 21-year-old Julie Turnbull.

    "She was my little girl," said her father, Doug Turnbull. "She loved me a lot. I loved her a lot."

    Turnbull was spending the night with friends at the house rented by nine students.

    "College students typically don't think anything is going to happen to them," said Pete Piringer of the Montgomery County Fire Department. "That is why it is important to expect the unexpected."

    Firefighters in Montgomery County say the people most likely to die in a fire are either the elderly or the very young -- simply because they can't get out. But when you see how quickly a fire spreads -- it can double in size in just a minute -- even able-bodied college students are at great risk.

    What to Do

    The Center for Campus Fire Safety says parents should check out where their children are living, make sure there are smoke alarms and two ways out, and have a fire inspector look at the property and electrical wiring.

    Parents can download a list of questions they should ask about their kids' housing at The Center for Campus Fire Safety's Website, http://www.campusfire.org/.

    "I've thought about it in every house my girls have lived in," said Linda Turnbull, Julie's mother. "You think there's a window that they can get out of. But, you know, I didn't check smoke alarms."

    And Julie Turnbull died -- one month before her graduation.

    ABC News' Laura Marquez reported this story for "World News Tonight."

    Copyright © 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures
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  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber Diane E's Avatar
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    Bumping the important stuff up -- tired of looking at the "ads"! And all the people that keep encouraging the "ads" to be up on the first page! You're contributing to the problem! Ignore, and they'll end up on page 3.
    "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
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    No, that's not the problem.

    For some reason the web team is asleep at the wheel on this one -- normally they're pretty good at elminating the spammers.

    It's a pain in the butt sometimes...but come on, someone should've been able to delete those threads already!

  14. #14
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    I’m not surprised. The fire systems at my university are a joke. I can’t even count how many alarm malfunctions I’ve had in my campus house.

    The last flow test on the sprinkler system in the library was in 2003…

    Our ‘new’ 2 year old building still has the factory dust covers on some of the smoke heads…

    I’m not sure if this stuff has been neglected because no one knows about them or if they just don’t care.

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