Page 6 - winter 07-08

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6
Summer 2008
T
hey dubbed the event, “Burn It, and They Will
Come,” and come they did. Between 200 and 300
William Woods University students turned out Sept.
9 to watch the Fulton Fire Department torch a mock resi-
dence hall room to learn just how quickly a room can go
up in fames…how little time they may have to escape a
fre…and what they can do to prevent a fre and protect
themselves.
Mike Wills, WWU director of residential life and campus
safety, believes that William Woods has been doing a
good job of fre safety, with specialized training for
students and staff in frefghting and emergency
evacuation.
Despite their efforts, Wills said, “Fire safety remains a
challenge for universities. You’re always looking for ways
to keep it fresh and make an impact, so students
remember what to do.”
Wills attended an Association of College and University
Housing Offcers international conference in Florida in
June and returned with the idea, borrowed from Syracuse
University. “They did a live burn demonstration on their
campus, and they talked about how successful it was.
They showed the students just how fast a room burns,
what it looks like, and what it feels like,” he said.
Mid-City Lumber in Fulton donated the supplies to build
the 10’ x 8’ mock residence hall room for WWU, and Todd
Gray, of the Fulton Fire Department, constructed it.
The live burn did not focus on the ignition (such as a can-
dle, overloaded circuits, frayed extension cord, halogen
lamp, plug-in air freshener, space heater or cigarette), but
rather on what Wills called, “the reality
of the result.”
“We wanted this to be a hands-on experience,” Gray
said. “We wanted them to see how quickly a spark grows
to a fame and engulfs a room…and to feel the unbeliev-
able heat it gives off. We measured the temperature of
that room at three minutes at more than 1,000 degrees.
Even from a very safe distance,
you could feel the heat.”
Wills added, “Showing them what fre will do to their rooms
formed a lasting memory. You could see it on their faces.
That memory will mean more than words on paper should
they ever fnd themselves in such a dangerous situation.”
Mock Room Goes
Up in Flames
By Mary Ann Beahon