Dorm fire safety season is here

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“A fire situation is very chaotic and can result in building occupants becoming confused or disoriented, as well as rapidly overcome in a toxic, smoke-filled environment,” Caron said. (File/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut’s dormitories are in the middle of the routine fire drills, said UConn Deputy Fire Marshal Doug Caron.

The UConn Fire Department conducts fire drills at the beginning of each semester as required by state law and the fire codes, Caron said in an email. The fire marshal’s office inspects the dorms every year, while the fire department performs walkthroughs of the campus buildings during the semester.

UConn’s dormitories will soon undergo room inspections to make sure students do not have items that can potentially cause a fire, Caron said. The fire department looks for power strips, candles, incense, damage to smoke detectors and anything that can be a potential fire hazard.

“Motorized scooters and bicycles in the buildings have become an issue over the past few years,” Caron said. “We’ve found them in hallways and stairwells and if there is an emergency where the building must be quickly evacuated, they can slow this down or cause people to trip.”

It’s important that students obey UConn’s Residential Life’s rules since dorm buildings are a place where students sleep; it can take longer to react to a fire alarm and ultimately evacuate the building, Caron said. With a rapidly growing fire, any delay can be life-threatening.

“Objects that can cause fires, such as some of the ‘items not permitted’ by Residential Life, can overwhelm the existing fire safety features in a building and impact the safety of others,” Caron said. “By abiding by the Residential Life guidelines and eliminating items that can cause fires, a student is improving their own level of safety as well as that of those living around them.”

Beyond fire drills and room inspections, the Public Safety Division is trained to respond to a multitude of emergencies, Caron said. The police and fire department continually train to ensure the safety of the UConn community.

Students need to make sure that they do everything they can to prevent a fire, but if a fire starts, an early call to 911 and getting out of the building is always best, Caron said. Any details such as the location of the fire, information on what is specifically burning and the number of occupants affected is very helpful to responding personnel.

“A fire situation is very chaotic and can result in building occupants becoming confused or disoriented, as well as rapidly overcome in a toxic, smoke-filled environment,” Caron said. “The most important action to take during a fire emergency is to evacuate the building calmly and quickly. Secondary to getting out of the building, communication is very important in any emergency, and the more information that first responders have the better.”


Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.philipson@uconn.edu.

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