Kutztown University
 

Campus Fire Safety Event


Kutztown University - Facilities

 
 

On Thursday afternoon, September 20, 2007 two student rooms burned on campus!  Thankfully, these rooms were props (mock-ups) built by Cresswell Brothers Construction as part of Fire Safety Fest 2007.  The two hour event on the DMZ featured food from AVI, music by the Party Pros, and several fire safety demonstrations involving the Kutztown Volunteer Fire Company.  Students had the opportunity to see several types of fire extinguishers demonstrated.  Even Avalanche, the campus mascot, got in on the action!  Some of the other activities involved a few students “dressing out” in firefighter protective gear and table top fire safety displays.  Door prizes donated by Kutztown University Student Services Inc, SimplexGrinnell and Kistler O’Brien were given to those students who participated in the activities.  A limited number of free T-shirts were given to the first visitors to take the Fire Prevention Pledge set up by the housing staff.   

Clearly, the highlight of the afternoon was the burning of the resident rooms.  The first room was equipped with a smoke detector and an automatic fire sprinkler (like ALL our rooms at KU) and was furnished and decorated like a typical student room.  A fire was ignited in a trash can, and within seconds, the smoke detector activated.  As the flames crept up the wall, the heat activated the fire sprinkler mounted on the ceiling.  Within one minute, the fire was not only contained, but completely extinguished.  Most of the furnishings and personal property in the room were saved. 

The second room didn’t make out so well.  This room was NOT protected with smoke detectors or fire sprinklers (like many off campus options, sadly), and in addition to furnishings similar to the first room, this one showed some decorating options that are prohibited by KU’s housing regulations because they are unsafe (decorative lights, candles, ceiling tapestry).  A similar fire was lit in the trash can in this room.  After a few minutes of silent (but deadly) smoldering, the flames erupted.  They worked their way up the wall and across the ceiling.  Within a few minutes everything in the room was consumed by fire.   

The purpose of this graphic display was to show a true life example of the speed and power of an uncontrolled fire.  Most of the estimated1000 students in attendance were amazed at the amount of heat given off by a fire in a single room.  The speed at which the fire spread was also eye-opening to the observers, who cheered when the volunteer firefighters (including some KU students who volunteer with Kutztown) stepped in to extinguish the fire after only 4 minutes of open burning. 

Environmental, Health and Safety created a fire safety survey, completed electronically by staff and students; the surveys received show a great increase in the percentage of people who believe that fire sprinklers make a difference by saving lives and property.  This was one of the goals of the event; to raise awareness of the importance of fire safety systems and practices.