University of Connecticut dormitories will undergo their semesterly fire and safety inspections this March, a practice conducted by room administrators and supplemented by the Fire Marshal and Building Inspector’s Office, UConn Fire Department Deputy Chief Christopher Renshaw said.
“Most of our successes are on the preventive side,” Patrick Eye, a UConn firefighter of four years, said. “It’s a great job that those guys do in filtering down the (fire safety) information to the RA’s to get it out to the students.”
Over the course of last month, the university fire departments conducted their semesterly fire drills inside the residence halls, Renshaw said.
“We have a requirement to do a fire drill and we do it once a semester,” Renshaw said. “Anything beyond that, there’s something going on. Whether it’s an unintentional alarm or the real thing, it’s not us.”
Eye said he feels false alarms are a nuisance that work against preventive practices.
“When we go out and do fire drills, one of the things I try and talk to the students about is treating these alarms like they’re real,” Eye said. “Every year in this country, hundreds of people die in buildings because of ‘pain in the neck’ alarms. They become complacent. They don’t think it’s real and people don’t get out.”
Students such as second-semester engineering major Nick Curley grapple with false alarms on a recurrent basis.
“(False alarms don’t) bother me that much,” Curley said. “It’s annoying but I see it as a necessary evil.”
In regards to the highest risk factors for students in residence halls at UConn, Eye said a lax mindset toward fire safety is chief among them.
“I think the biggest threat is complacency,” Eye said. “We have really good detection systems. We have really well trained and well equipped firefighters…It’s when people don’t leave the buildings because they don’t want to be inconvenienced or they’re annoyed. That to me is the biggest threat we have.”
Eye said that in addition to a casual mindset toward fire safety, cooking mistakes and candles are amongst the leading causes of hazards for students.
“Two of the most dangerous things we find are candles and incense,” Eye said. “Typically (the hazard for apartments) is cooking on too high a heat and using the wrong type of oil.”
Renshaw said one of the UConn Fire Department’s primary missions is to build and strengthen a mentality of fire prevention in the student body.
“The less and less you see us, actually means there’s more work being done on the prevention side,” Renshaw said. “Keeping people safe is ideal.”
Collin Sitz is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.