Dorm fire simulated

The first instinct is to run when a fire breaks out, but some people consider busting into their Superman gear. Firefighters would advise students to leave their capes in their closet and let them handle the flames.

Belton Fire Department gave a presentation on fire safety Wednesday in the grass strip beside the railroad tracks. The department set aflame a small building made to resemble a dorm to demonstrate how quickly a room can erupt in flames.

Captain of the Belton Fire Department Keith Randolph explained the purpose of the event.

Belton firefighters drench a raging mock dorm room. The university sponsored the exercise to demonstrate the speed and intensity at which a fire can consume a standard living space. The controlled conflagration was staged near the train tracks. Photo by Chelesea Carter

Belton firefighters drench a raging mock dorm room. The university sponsored the exercise to demonstrate the speed and intensity at which a fire can consume a standard living space. The controlled conflagration was staged near the train tracks. Photo by Chelesea Carter

“We wanted students to see exactly what a fire does,” he said.“It wasn’t made up to burn faster.  That’s exactly how fast a fire would burn.”

According to the U.S. Fire Administration website, 3,010 civilians lost their lives due to fire and 90 firefighters were killed while on duty in 2009.

Many students were present at the faux fire. Some came merely because they heard the alarm sound while others came just to see the dorm set ablaze.  Freshman vocal performance major Shannon Garr was one of those people.

“Basically (I wanted to see) the big box go up in flames,” she said.

Residence staff also attended the demonstration and found the event helpful for students.

Senior psychology major Erica Jenkins, a residence assistant in Beall, expressed how she believes this event will be useful for Crusaders.

“We actually saw a video of a dorm catching on fire just like this during RA training, and they wanted us to be aware of how quickly a fire can grow that way people don’t try and be a hero and save other people,”she said.

The mock dorm had everything an average room in a residence hall would have, such as papers, posters, clothes, a bed and other accessories.

When the science lab in York caught on fire, the department was there to put it out.

According to the city of Belton website, the fire department responds to more than 2,000 emergency medical service calls and 1,500 fires each year.

Firefighters pull burnt remains from a mock room. The charred hunks remained after a hose drenched the space. Photo by Chelesea Carter

Firefighters pull burnt remains from a mock room. The charred hunks remained after a hose drenched the space. Photo by Chelesea Carter

This was the first time the department ever gave a fire demonstration at UMHB.

Paramedic firefighter and training officer Jeff Booker believes this will be an annual demonstration at UMHB.

He was the speaker of the event and provided students with several facts about fire safety.

Booker began by going over prohibited items on campus such as hot plates and candles.

“Candles are one of the leading causes of fires,” he said.

Booker advised students not to connect an electrical cord to another electrical cord and not to run them under carpets they walk on.

Additionally, Booker described a fire’s speed and ability to expand rapidly.

“A fire can grow and double in size every 30 seconds,” he said.

If a fire gets too big for a fire extinguisher, get out and call 911 was one of the last remarks he made on fire safety.

However, an easy tip Booker advised students to do should a fire break out in their dorm, involves performing a small gesture.

“Be sure to close the door behind you,” he said. “(With) no oxygen the fire may go out on its own.”

Author: Chelesea Carter

Chelesea Carter is a senior English major minoring in writing at UMHB. She is an assistant page editor for The Bells newspaper. Though she came from the small town of Caldwell, Texas, she spent most of her teenage years in Aggieland. Chelesea enjoys baking delicious goodies, reading novels and discovering new things about others. Writing about social issues allows Chelesea to share her compassion for helping others. Her life-long goal is to improve the desolate state of the world.

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