Mandatory meetings address fire safety issues in Centennial Courts

Suzi Starheim

Extinguisher tampered with, ashes near stove

On either Sept. 23 or early on the morning of Sept. 24, someone keyed into the third floor bridge lounge kitchenette between Centennial Courts E and F. Residence services coordinator Josette Skobieranda Dau said the person put a cardboard box on the stove and burned it.

“This was just the first situation,” said Dau. “There was no fire, but ashes were found on the floor and around the stove. We still don’t know who did that.”

The second situation occurred in Centennial Courts A and B, where Dau said someone tampered with a fire extinguisher.

Ed Moisio, fire prevention specialist and safety coordinator, said the university typically sees fire safety equipment tampered with every year.

Fire Safety

Policy Overview:

Actions intended to start a fire or trapping people in a room can be considered a Class 1 felony. Class 1 felonies are punishable by 10 years in prison and/or a $200,000 fine. This would also likely result in dismissal from the university.

Tampering with fire equipment or making a false fire alarm is considered a legal misdemeanor. This is punishable by 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

“We always have about half a dozen fire extinguishers stolen per year, and we find them everywhere,” Moisio said. “If (students) are caught, we send them to Judicial Affairs. It is a life safety device, so they can be dismissed from Kent State.”

In response to the two incidents, Residence Services set up mandatory fire safety meetings in the dorms where the incidents occurred.

Dau said while students were required to attend one of the eight meetings in each hall or to contact their resident assistant, there was still a group of approximately 40 students who did not attend or contact anyone about not attending a meeting.

“The staff were willing to meet with people to have a make-up fire safety meeting,” Dau said. “Those students will each be required to write a three-page paper, and it is a fire safety research paper geared toward incidences of fire in university residence halls in the past five years.”

In addition to the mandatory research paper, the students will also be required to go to a one-hour fire safety education program with Moisio. The date for that session is in early to mid-November, Dau said.

“Because these incidences happened within about a week of each other, it was very concerning to us,” Dau said. “It starts to set a trend or a pattern.”

Dau said if instances like these keep occurring, Residence Services will close off the kitchenette so students don’t have access to it. It would also have to find a way to make fire safety equipment more secure.

“Residence Services takes health and safety issues very seriously, and hence that is why we did the mandatory fire safety education programs,” Dau said. “(Fire safety equipment) needs to be secure, but it needs to be accessible to people.”

Moisio said his reminder to students is if equipment doesn’t have their name on it, it’s not theirs.

“(The fire safety equipment) is there for their protection,” Moisio said.

Dau said anyone with information about either incident, especially regarding the burning of the cardboard box, should contact a resident assistant or Residence Services.

Contact safety reporter Suzi Starheim at < a href=”mailto: [email protected]”>[email protected].