Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

A fire started on the second floor of Schmidt Hall on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2007, at approximately 12:25 PM. The fire alarm system functioned properly and all residents and visitors were evacuated quickly and in an orderly fashion with the help of the Residence Life staff and the Public Safety Department. Public Safety officers used a portable fire extinguisher to put out the fire. The local fire department was also on scene to help eliminate smoke from the second floor hallway.

According to the Office of Public Relations, the cause of the fire was an electric, heat-producing hair straightener. The straightener was turned on, left atop a mattress and covered by flammable items, including clothes and a towel. Fortunately, no injuries were sustained and the fire caused little damage. Amongst the damaged items are clothing, a blanket, a towel, and the mattress on the bed, all of which were in direct contact with the hair straightener.

Though the fire was unintentional, the student involved will receive a letter of warning and will be required to meet with the University’s Fire Safety Specialist to review fire safety awareness, according to Student Affairs. While the fire was unfortunate, the University views this as a lesson in fire safety and will use the incident in future fire safety training sessions as an example of what can happen when people are not cautious when concerning their safety.

The University’s Fire Safety Specialist, Dan Kerrigan, offered some fire safety tips useful for student living both on campus and off campus. Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 7 – 13, this year’s theme being, “Practice Your Escape Plan.” Participation in a fire drill is essential for students living in residence halls. A person has no way of knowing whether or not it is a drill or not, so immediately exit the building as soon as the alarm sounds. Also, residents must evacuate from the nearest exit; additionally, there must be an awareness of additional exits if the nearest exit is not available during an emergency. Elevators are not to be used, and staying low in the presence of smoke is key.

Only use portable appliances that have been approved by the University in the residence halls. Use the items properly, and do not leave them unattended. Do not overload electrical outlets.

The new University-approved power strips are the only ones that are allowed to be in use, and do not plug a power strip into another power strip.

Do not prop open fire doors. The doors are made to keep fire and smoke from spreading into the stairwells to allow for a safe evacuation and to prevent the fire from moving to other buildings. In addition to the Residence Hall related fire safety tips, also avoid horseplay at or around fire alarms and sprinkler systems.

These systems are for student protection, not for entertainment.

It is important for those living on and off campus to keep any flammable items away from heat producing appliances.

Cooking is one of the leading causes of home fires, so if living in a house or apartment, stay in the kitchen when cooking, or turn off the stove or oven if the room is unattended.

Smoking materials are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. Smoking is not permitted in any Residence Hall, and should be done with great caution if in an apartment or house off campus.

Dispose of smoking materials in deep, sturdy ashtrays and keep smoking materials away from things that burn. Do not throw cigarettes in mulch or flower beds, which could easily ignite a fire. Choose fire safe cigarettes if available.

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