Our view: crisis under control

Tuesday night could have been a disaster.

With flames shooting out of the second-story windows of Prentice Hall and the smell of smoke in the air, Tuesday’s fire definitely had the potential for mass panic.

But that’s not what happened. Even though residents did not hear a fire alarm and the source of the flame went unnoticed for awhile, everyone involved with the incident remained relatively calm. After the fire was reported to the residence hall director, an alarm was sounded and the building was successfully evacuated before the fire departments – eight total from surrounding areas – arrived on the scene.

Because of quick reactions made by residents, staff and fire officials, Kent State kept the damages and injuries to a minimum. Students were allowed to retrieve their belongings that night, although they had to sleep somewhere else, and most could get back into their rooms Wednesday. While there was some smoke and water damage in the halls, only the room where the fire occurred should have any property damage, according to Residence Services.

Accidents are inevitable. No matter how hard humans try, we cannot and will never be able to completely control nature, fate, whatever you want to call it. It’s how we react when the situations arise that is really important, and Kent State succeeded in this on Tuesday night. No one was hurt. Students are already back in their rooms. Prentice Cafe has already resumed serving its breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Life, for the most part, is back to normal.

But it’s also important for us to learn from these kinds of accidents. Some residents our reporters talked to the night of the fire had smelled smoke, but because there was no alarm, they ignored it. How many of us have done the same in the past? It’s easy enough to discount it as some burnt popcorn or an illegal candle, but its worth a trip down the hall to check with the RA. Don’t count on smoke detectors or fire alarms to go off – they didn’t on Tuesday.

It was because the wind blew the smoke out the windows at first that the detectors did not pick up on it, said Betsy Joseph, director of Residence Services.

Maybe this is unavoidable, but it is scary. Kent State should look into alternate systems if the ones we have currently are not the highest quality. Student safety should always be number one, regardless of cost. This is one situation in which the pricetag should not be a key factor.

Tuesday’s fire was caught in time, but what about the next time? If there hadn’t been residents near the room where the fire started, and the detector wasn’t picking up the smoke, who knows how far it could have spread before someone noticed and called for help. Kent State’s priorities seem to be in order, but it never hurts to take that extra step when it comes to safety.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.