NFPA advocates fire safety education for college students

NFPA advocates fire safety education for college students

Citing the fraternity house fire that killed five college juniors in May (Mother`s Day) on the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is recommending that college students be made aware of the inherent dangers associated with smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol in an unsupervised environment.

Contributing factors in the disaster, according to the NFPA, were the absence of a buildingwide fire alarm system and an automatic fire sprinkler system, the presence of combustible interior finish materials, and an open central stairway that allowed smoke and fire to spread unchecked. The careless disposal of smoking materials was believed to have caused the disaster.

The NFPA is advocating a comprehensive plan for managing fire risk in student housing. Among the recommended components of the plan are the following:

Installation of buildingwide fire detection, alarm, and automatic fire sprinkler systems in student housing structures. The enforcement of codes at these facilities and regular inspections that address adequate egress systems, enclosed stairways, and other safety considerations.

Student education that includes making students aware that their first priority in a fire should be to get out safely–and not to investigate–and of safety guidelines for cooking, using space heaters and candles, as well as the hazards of using scarves and other combustibles as lamp shades.

At least two fire drills a year at every residence.

Consider equipping the second and third floors of sleeping areas with fire escape ladders bearing the marker of an independent testing laboratory and having students practice using them.

Institution of a policy that would provide for a “designated dweller” at every party. This individual would stay sober and watch over guests and other roommates by checking ashtrays often; dousing butts with water before discarding them or flushing them down the toilet; and checking under and around cushions and upholstery before leaving or going to sleep.

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