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Dorm rules help ensure fire safety

From 2000 to 2006, Ohio led the nation in fire-related campus fatalities with a total of 12. The University – in conjunction with the Bowling Green Fire Department – is taking all precautionary measures to make sure fire incidents do not happen here.

The University supplies freshmen with a list of items that are prohibited and permitted in the residence halls in order to help prevent fires.

The prohibited items on the list are there because those items have been known to be fire hazards, said John Curlis, fire safety officer at the University.

One of the prohibited items that Curlis cites as one of the most common causes of residence hall fires is candles.

‘Students may say a candle is just for decoration, but the chances are it’s going to get lit,’ Curlis said.

‘Most fires are due to carelessness because people are busy and they just forget about things,’ Curlis said.

Students also need to make sure they are using the correct wattage light bulb for their lamps. One common cause of fires is using a wattage that is too high for a particular lamp.

The small fire in Rodgers Quadrangle last year was caused by a lava lamp.

Halogen light bulbs are not permitted in the residence halls because they burn much hotter than incandescent bulbs.

Fire inspections are done once a semester in the residence halls and University-owned apartments. The inspections are done by resident advisers who have received fire safety training. Jackie Hargreaves, resident adviser in Rodgers Quadrangle, and her fellow RA’s use a checklist when inspecting rooms, making sure none of the prohibited items are in any of the rooms.

‘We look for extension cords, wires that are all over the place, we check the smoke detectors and make sure nothing is blocking the windows,’ Hargreaves said.

The most common fire hazard Hargreaves sees is the use of extension cords. She said surge protectors are a safer alternative because extension cords can get tangled up and become a serious fire hazard.

Certain items are on the list because they are known to cause fires, but others are on the list because they can become dangerous after a fire is started, like bean bag chairs.

‘We have run flame tests on bean bag chairs, and the vinyl material gives off a very black choking smoke if there is a small fire,’ Curlis said.

Students are bringing more stuff to school than they did 20 years ago, so it is important students take proper precautions to keep their belongings safe, according to Curlis.

‘All the electronics and computers make for a pretty good fireload,’ Curlis said. ‘A lot of those contents give off some deadly smoke, too.’

A goal of Curlis and Stephen Meredith, Bowling Green’s fire chief, is to have all University buildings equipped with full sprinkler systems. Founders, Offenhauer and the Conklin West Greek Units have sprinkler systems.

‘I would like to have them in all the buildings eventually,’ Meredith said. ‘They are being done one by one. It is expensive but I desire to have one in every building.’

The University offers fire safety training for people who are interested.

‘We work very closely with the city fire department,’ Curlis said. ‘They come and help us with presentations, and we teach things like hands-on fire extinguisher training.’

List of prohibited items:

– Candles, incense and oil lamps

– Halogen bulbs

– Extension cords

– Appliances with exposed heating elements, including microwave/convection oven combination units

– Hot plates, toaster ovens, hot pots, waffle irons, outdoor and indoor grills

– Air conditioners

– Portable heaters and electric blankets

– Floor lamps that have five flexible arms

– Inflatable furniture and bean bag-type chairs

– Upholstered furniture that is not fire retardant

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