Residence Life Prepares Students for Community LivingPrior to the start of the fall semester, students who will be serving as resident assistants and resident directors spent much of the summer completing a series of online, workshop, and hands-on training programs. Among them, considerable emphasis was placed on fire safety. Through a partnership with Residence Life staffers, and with support from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC), 75 students participated in the annual fire training day program.
“It’s very important that our students have a basic understanding of fire safety and prevention best practices,” said Shannon Hitchcock ’05, assistant dean of the residential commons at the Howard N. Blitman, P.E.’50 Residence Commons. “In residence life, participation in community living and responsibility are important. By having our student staff participate in hands-on training programs focused on fire safety, we know that they will be better equipped to share information with students in their residence hall as well as know what to do in the event a fire emergency should arise.”
The program kicked off with remarks by OFPC Fire Prevention Specialist Greg Comparetta, who focused on “Fire and Life Safety Prevention.” Following the presentation, students explored three hands-on work stations that were held on Freshman Hill.
In one station, working with OFPC staffers, students learned how to safely extinguish a fire using a water fire extinguisher. In the “Residence Hall Smoke-Out” station, simulated vanilla-scented fog was dispersed throughout a darkened Cary Hall. In groups of two or three, the students learned how to notify other residents and encourage others to get out safely when visibility is impaired.
Lastly, in an effort to help students identify potential fire hazards, students toured a fire safety trailer. During the tour of the mock residence hall room, students tested their knowledge in identifying 10 fire violations that ranged from exposed electric cords to candles to incense sticks.
At Rensselaer, all residence facilities are equipped with fire and smoke detector equipment that relays an emergency signal to Public Safety if a problem is detected. Student rooms are also furnished with single station smoke alarms. In addition, all of the residence halls and apartments are equipped with a sprinkler system.
In addition, with stories in the news that focus on bullying, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ), Residence Life offers sessions on confrontation and mediation, both of which touch on how to approach students who are not facilitating a positive community. Hitchcock noted that while the program does not address bullying specifically, the sessions often give students the tools to do so. In addition, Residence Life also has a session on LGBTQ awareness and resources. Residence Life also offers optional CPR and Safe Zone workshops for student staff who desire further training.
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