Campus Fire Safety Training Program Prepares Students for Emergencies
Each year college and university students, on and off campus, experience hundreds of fire-related emergencies nationwide, according to recent statistics from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Prior to the start of the fall 2013 semester at Rensselaer, 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 Rensselaer Department of Environmental Health and Safety, New York State Office of Fire Prevention and
Control (OFPC), and the City of Troy Fire Department, students participated in the annual fire safety training program.
“It’s very important that our students have a basic understanding of fire safety and prevention best practices,” said Annette Chism, director of environmental health and safety. “Fire safety encompasses the diligent act of individuals in assuming responsibility for their actions. At Rensselaer we incorporate a holistic approach to safety through hands-on educational events, written communication, and fire drills, and the Rensselaer Environmental Health and Safety department is always available for consultation and technical advice.”
The program began with remarks by OFPC Fire Prevention Specialist Greg Comparetta, who focused on “Fire and Life Safety Prevention.” Prior to the start of the interactive sessions—which were held on Freshman Hill, also known as the “Commons”—students witnessed the live burn of a mock residence as a way to see how quickly a fire can spread.
Following the demonstration, students participated in three work stations. In one station, 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 Nugent 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.
Last, 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.
“In residence life, participation in community living and responsibility are important,” said Renata Williams, assistant dean of the residential commons. “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 halls as well as know what to do in the event that a fire emergency should arise.”