By JACOB BLAIR
Eastern is participating in a national movement by environmental health and safety professionals. These professionals are trying to promote more fire safety on and off campus.
Bryan Makinen, director of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), said he hears the term “false alarm” being used too often to describe scenarios in which students have had to leave campus buildings because of fire alarms, mainly residence halls.
“There is no such thing as a false alarm,” Makinen said. “There is a reason why that fire alarm has been activated. Every alarm is a real alarm.”
Makinen said there are many reasons why the alarms can go off, but the cause is unknown until the fire department and police respond. He cited burned food, steam and hairspray as a few reasons why smoke detectors are activated in residence halls.
“The No. 1 cause of fire alarms in residence halls is burned food,” Makinen said. “People do not stay with their food when it is cooking.”
He also said it doesn’t take long for food to create smoke or fire once it has burned.
Corey Lewis, public information officer for the Richmond Fire Department (RFD), said that nationwide, the majority of fire-related fatalities are in off-campus housing. The ultimate goal for the department is to engage students, get them thinking and make sure they are safe off campus.
“If you’re looking at off-campus [housing], the first thing to check is the smoke alarm,” Lewis said. “A non-working smoke alarm is typically a precursor to other issues that may arise.”
Richmond Fire Department was on campus every Wednesday in September with freebies to promote fire safety. Some of the items were branded with “Fire Safe Colonel” or “Campus Fire Safety Month.”
Makinen said the Richmond Fire Department helps with unannounced fire drills conducted in the residence halls every semester.
“The true purpose of fire drills is so people know what their alarm sounds like, to practice evacuation and meeting areas and to do a small educational session,” Makinen said.
He said that according to state codes, every residence hall on campus has to have a fire drill each semester.
One thing Makinen said he notices during building evacuations is that students typically don’t use the emergency exits. If the fire alarm activates, he said you’re allowed to use the emergency exit doors to leave the building.
Makinen said if the fire alarm is activated, stop what you’re working on and leave the building as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible.
He also said that if there is smoke present or fire, use the pull station to activate the alarm and leave the building. If your smoke detector activates and there is no smoke or fire, call Police, step into the hallway and wait for them to respond to the area. If you hear a smoke detector in another room, call Eastern Police at (859) 622-1111 and let dispatch know what room the alarm is coming from.