University recognizes Fire Day

Olivia Medovich
Staff writer

The department of public safety and emergency management and the Office of Environmental Safety and Health held Campus Fire Safety Day on Sept. 28 in the Free Speech Zone.

Fire safety stations were set up for students to practice fire safety. The stations included a smoke house, a fire extinguisher training station, a safety videotape and a fire hose spray.

The first 100 students to visit the stations received free fire safety T-shirts.

West Kentucky Rural Electric power company also set up a booth to demonstrate how to prevent common electrical fires.

Jeff Steen, public safety emergency manager for campus, said Fire Safety Day has been held every year for the last 20 years.

Steen said fire safety day is important for campus because it gives students basic tools for dealing with fires.

“For many students this is their first time away from home and there is a lot of new things going on in their lives,” Steen said. “We want to make sure they understand fire safety is important.”

The day lies only weeks after the 13th anniversary of the 1998 Hester College fire, which killed one student and injured another.

Steen said the University was aware of fire safety before the incident, but major statewide changes were made to university fire preparedness as a result.

“The big change that occurred state wide after the fire was re-emphasis of sprinkler systems in college dormitories,” he said.

Steen said Fire Safety Day helped one student prevent what could have been a disaster.

Three years ago, Steen said, a man stepped inside one of the residential colleges to light a pipe and threw the match in a wastebasket catching it on fire.

A resident was able to use nearby fire extinguisher to put out the fire.

“As a result of the fire extinguisher training the student was able to put the fire out,” he said. “The student said it was just like the training.”

Jamie Sears, communications and media relations coordinator for WKRE, said the company was grateful to be asked to come and speak with students.

“We never turn down an opportunity to talk about safety around electricity and provide information to college students in the dorms,” Sears said.

She said electrical fires can be started easily, but are as easily preventable.

“With the proper education on our part we know that everyone will do their best to be safe around electricity,” she said.

One of the easiest ways to start an electrical fire is to overload an outlet, Sears said.

“The best way to prevent this is to use a surge protector and make sure your outlets look like they are safe,” she said.

WRKE wants students to remember everything they have learned about being safe around electrical lines, she said.

“We hope they get all the safety information and never have to use it, but if they do, they will know what to do in a bad situation,” she said.

Chakeya Bowen, junior from Brownsville, Tenn., said it is better for people to be prepared for a fire than not to be.

“I’m an OSHA major and I’m in a fire safety class and I think it’s an important issue that people need to be aware of,” Bowen said.

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