On the Beat

Recently, the international news featured a story about a terrible fire in a Brazilian nightclub that killed over 100 people. For the campus police, the event was a reminder that fire safety is one of those topics that often goes unnoticed or is viewed as an annoyance until something goes wrong, and then it can be vitally important.

Fire safety is an important concern in a university setting as it would be in any small city. Some tips regarding on- and off-campus fire safety:

On campus, academic buildings and residence halls are all equipped with fire alarm systems. When the alarm goes off, it means you need to evacuate the building. This is not optional. It is a fire alarm system, not a fire request system.

University policy requires the Cleveland or Cleveland Heights Fire Department to be notified any time a fire alarm goes off, and they will respond. Tampering with a fire alarm is also against policy and can be against the law, much like disabling the smoke detector in an airplane restroom.

Fortunately, most fire alarms here are false alarms. The most common cause of false alarms is cooking, especially microwave related incidents like burning popcorn.

If you are cooking or microwaving, keep an eye on your food at all times. Repeat offenders in the cooking category get referred to Bon Appétit for remedial training. Open flames, including candles, are prohibited in residence halls. The university also publishes a full list of prohibited items in the residence halls online.

Off campus? Have working smoke detectors in your residence, and check the batteries in them periodically. And if you have a party at your residence, especially one attended by cigarette smokers, designate someone to sweep the home at the end of the night for smoldering cigarettes. There used to be one more duplex on Grandview Road in Cleveland Heights than there is now – one burned down in 2001 and a student from a local university did not make it out in time. The fire was caused by a cigarette left smoldering in a sofa after a party. I know, I was there. Something to think about.

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