Mock dorm room, real fire

By on March 26, 2008
Jeff Rabinovitz

Hundreds of students gathered around at the top of Hill/Village circle to watch a dorm room equipped with the typical college student belongings burn down in a matter of minutes.

The fire to burn down a mock dorm room was the highlight of activities conducted on March 3 for a program put together by facilities, security, Hamden Fire Department, and Hill/Complex Residential Life Staff to raise awareness about fire and fire safety in a fun and productive way.

Jeff Rabinovitz, a graduate student, and a Residential Assistant in Hill 40’s, who made the entire program possible, wanted students to always be aware of fire dangers. “People don’t think that it can happen, but people burn popcorn all the time and that could start a fire,” Rabinovitz said. “From cooking grease fires to a candle left burning, people always need to be aware of dangers.”

Before the burning of the mock dorm room, students were taught how to put out fires by using extinguishers provided by facilities. Chris Lupfer, a junior interactive digital design major, enjoyed the entire program.

“I like that actual firefighters came out to raise awareness and the interactivity with the fire extinguishers was pretty cool,” Lupfer said.

Other students shared similar feelings as well. Juliette Quinn, a junior economics major and a Resident Assistant in Complex 100’s had previous experience with fire extinguishers but still enjoyed the activity. “This is my second time using a fire extinguisher, but it never hurts to have a refresher,” Quinn said.

By 5 p.m. students had all gathered around the mock dorm room complete with a chair, desk, and a clutter of newspapers, cereal boxes and clothing all of which can add fuel to the fire. Two firefighters from the Hamden Fire Department put on their gear as Captain Willliam Fitzmaurice gave the students tips for fire safety.

After the firemen lit a single candle, the flowers on top of the desk caught on fire. At the 2 minute mark, the room was lit up in flames. With a 5 minute response time, the room would be destroyed before the firefighters arrive. Within 3 minutes, the smoke detector failed and the ceiling level heat was between 800-1000 degrees. Within 10 minutes, the room was burned down with nothing left but ash.

Throughout the program, Fitzmaurice gave some tips to help students prevent fires, and to respond in case a fire arose. These included eliminating clutter and not burning candles or halogen lamps. He also suggested feeling the doorknob before entering a room. If the knob is hot, there is most likely a fire on the other side. As well as the tips, Hill/Complex Residential Life provided evacuation directions for every dorm room, safety tips, and fire extinguishers.


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