Victoria Bresnahan – General Assignment Reporter
It took four and half minutes for a faux dormitory to be engulfed in flames during North Campus Residence Hall’s mock burn on Tuesday night.
“You probably would not survive if you waited this long inside the room,” said Tim Lunn, Hamden deputy fire marshal. “That room would bank down with smoke.”
In collaboration with the Hamden Fire Department, North campus staff demonstrated how quickly a fire could spread after firefighters ignited a wooden apparatus representing a dormitory in a North parking lot.
“I know there are a lot of nuisance alarms,” said Lunn. “You still need to treat everything as though it was real. Grab your jacket and get out as fast as you can.”
Hugh O’Callaghan, Hamden Fire Department captain, said he hopes students learned how quickly a fire could spread through the mock burn.
“People think they have a long time to get out of a house, but they really don’t,” said O’Callaghan. “So, when the alarm goes off, it’s because there’s an alarm of fire. So, we want people to take it seriously and we are hoping this shows them how fast it can spread.”
O’Callaghan said Southern does a great job of educating students, but after so many alarms students may have started to assume they are not legitimate.
“They do not see a big fire, so they assume its false,” said O’Callaghan, “but that is not always the case. So, people tend to get lax that way.”
Kaitlyn Cody, director of North campus, said last spring semester North had many fire alarms going off and most of them were preventable.
“This [past] fall semester, they were not false alarms; they actually were considered real alarms because they are being set off by smoke due to cooking generally,” said Cody.
A higher number of alarms tends to for a slower and more lax response from students to evacuate as quickly as possible, she said.
Cody said campus wide students struggle with fire safety and show a decent job of evacuating the buildings quickly.
“We have found, over time, we haven’t done as good as we could have done,” said Cody. “I don’t think we are at a point where anyone is in danger.”
O’Callaghan said students should never cover smoke detectors and always stay aware when cooking. The apparatus built for the mock burn featured both covered and uncovered smoke detectors.
“Students can actually see how fast both sides will burn,” said Cody. “But [also] how fast the smoke detector will go off versus the covered smoke detector which will take a lot longer to go off.”
Cody said in North campus, staff speak to students about evacuations and fire safety by going door to door or during floor meetings at the beginning of each semester. Fire evacuation drills also take place randomly throughout the semester to time student’s response to the drill.
“We absolutely talk about evacuations and how fast you should be evacuating,” said Cody. “Using the closest exit, making sure you are going out the first exit, not using elevators; those sorts of things.”
Photo Credit: August Pelliccio