Resident Services instill fire safety


Students file back into the Rottunda of Tri-Towers after a hand sanitizer dispenser caught fire on the eighth floor of Koonce Hall, requiring students to evacuate around 3 a.m. February 8, 2013. Drills are held regularly to ensure students’ safety in case of emergencies such as this.. Photo by Jessica Denton.

Rachel Purget

Residence halls across campus will be experiencing a fire and safety push this month in an effort to lessen risk at Kent State.

Beginning of semester fire drills were completed Tuesday, with more fire prevention and safety checks occurring in the coming weeks. The week of September 16 will be the start of room inspections to remove potential hazards from all residence halls.

Director of Residence Services Jill Church said, “We’ll do them each night that week and each hall has their own schedule for that. The hall staff always leaves notices and lets them know about that. And if they do find anything, they leave them a half sheet that says these are the violations. They don’t get in trouble at that point, but we do follow-up to make sure that they’ve removed their items.”

The list of violations could include candles, too many lights, torchiere-style floor lamps and over-loaded outlets. The staff stresses it’s not their mission to punish students, but to ensure their safety on campus.

“It’s not to get them in trouble – it’s to educate them,” said Brian Hellwig, Associate Director of Safety and Security.

Some students hate the drills and the efforts to prevent fire, but they understand the obvious need for the routines.

“I hated the fire drills last year because I lived on the top floor and it’s always so slow getting out,” said Caitlin Reicher, a sophomore psychology major. “So everybody is going down all ten floors and it was raining every single fire drill last year. But now I know what to do if the building is burning down.”

Part of that education is the Safety Awareness Day that Residence Services will be holding September 11 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the MACC. The university’s fire and police departments will be teaming up with forces from Kent’s fire and police departments. The Kent Fire Department will be bringing equipment and vehicles to demonstrate and inform proper fire safety procedures. The highlight of the evening will be the movie After the Fire, shown in the Kiva, giving students a detailed look of the residence hall fire that occurred at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Two survivors from that fire will be present to give a talk after the movie.

“We want students to be more aware of the dangers around fires,” Hellwig said. “One of the issues with Seton Hall is that they had so many false fire alarms. Once they had another one the students thought it was nothing, so they didn’t evacuate. That’s why some students died and got injured there. We want to pass along some of those words of wisdom from those who were actually there.”

Contact Rachel Purget at [email protected].