• Volume 18, Issue 3 | 3rd Quarter

    Feature Article

    College Campus Fire Safety

    By Mark Conroy


    According to a report by the US Fire Administration (USFA) there were 85 fatal fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and off-campus housing that resulted in 118 deaths during 16 academic years, from 2000–20151. Astonishingly,fire sprinkler systems were not present in any of the 85 fires, so students need to learn and practice fire prevention and safety without relying on these fire safety systems found in many buildings today. One of the worst fires happened in January 2000, where 3 students died and 67 others were injured. That should be enough to scare us into action.

    College Campus

    With these frightening statistics and the fact that there are no sprinkler systems to rely on, we need to be diligent and remind our kids (as we send them off to college later this summer) of basic fire safety messages to help keep them safe on and off campus. Here are 10 recommended safety tips that every college student should keep in mind so they can return home safe for Thanksgiving. The first tip relates to smoke alarms, as smoke alarms were either missing or were tampered with in 58 percent of fatal campus fires reported by USFA.

    Fire Alarm Exit Sign Building Sprinkler

      College students should:

    • Make sure there are working smoke detectors, and periodically test them.
    • Choose a meeting place, know how many are sleeping in their area, and know their names.
    • Plan an escape route and have two ways out.
    • Keep the escape route clear, and don’t allow storage in halls and stairwells.
    • Determine which windows can be used for escape, and make sure they open easily.
    • Practice the emergency exit route, and discuss the need to crawl low to avoid inhaling smoke.
    • Never ignore a fire alarm, and always evacuate a building upon hearing one.
    • Read the instructions of portable fire extinguishers before a fire occurs.
    • When a fire occurs, pull a fire alarm or call 9-1-1, even if a fire extinguisher is being used.
    • Use a fire extinguisher when people are exiting, and the fire department is being notified.

    Knowledge is paramount for student survival when a fire occurs. But there is also the need for the right fire protection equipment. It is the responsibility of college administrators and off-campus housing owners to install and keep fire equipment maintained and up to code. When smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are damaged or missing, it is their responsibility to replace them. When emergency lighting and all exits and egress paths are clearly marked with signage, students can find their way out during a fire. Having the right fire safety equipment and having it periodically serviced is as critical as imparting fire safety knowledge on students.

    When college students, administrators, and off-campus housing owners take their responsibilities seriously we can send our kids off to college and expect them to be safe. The final statement in the US Fire Administration report sums it up well…”One student fire death is one too many.”

    1US Fire Administration, Campus Fire Fatalities in Residential Buildings (2000-2015)

    Mark Conroy is an engineer in our Boston office and a member of the NFPA Technical Committee on Venting Systems for Cooking Appliances.

    Employee Spotlight

    Meet Kevin Pinto

    Junior Sales Associate

    Kevin started working with Brooks in May of 2017. Having a number of friends already employed here at Brooks, he’d heard a lot of favorable things about the company. And as an Extruder Operator at a local textile business, he felt it was time for a career change—maybe out of an abundance of caution.

    When asked what an Extruder Operator does, Kevin explained that he worked on a machine that melted plastics and pigments (colored powders) together. Then cut them into small pellets for commercial carpeting and injection molding. And these machines ran hot (300°F– 400°F). As a result, fires were a constant occurrence. So Kevin, reluctantly, I’m sure, had to become very good with fire extinguishers over the 6 years he spent melting things—on purpose or not.

    Soft-spoken and exceedingly friendly, he’s been an ideal fit for the Brooks Sales Team. When asked what he enjoys the most about working at Brooks, Kevin says, “The camaraderie with my co-workers, [it] feels like a second family.” He goes on to say, “I also look at [my] customers as my friend’s, and there isn’t much I wouldn’t try to do to help my friends.”

    Outside of work, Kevin enjoys spending time with his family, working on cars, and, apparently, building computers? Yup, the man has fun building computers in his spare time. He’s also from Miami, so he’s a Dolphins fan. Maybe that explains the computers and spare time. Just kidding Big Fellow!

    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in these articles are the author’s only and provide limited information. Although the information is believed to be reliable, Brooks Equipment Company, LLC expressly disclaims any liability for errors or omissions. The user of this article(s) or the product(s) is responsible for verifying the information’s accuracy from all available sources, including the product manufacturer. The authority having jurisdiction should be contacted for code interpretations.