Mock Dorm Room Burn

No, nobody's burning the dorms down (for those of you that just got a little excited).  It's Fire Safety Week 2011, and UAB is going to burn down a mock dorm room on Rast-Blount lawn to demonstrate how quickly a safety hazard can turn into a fatal situation.  Grab some free pizza, soft drinks, and t-shirts while you're there.  

Say you’re cooking in your dorm room when you get a text from a friend. Maybe you’ve got too many electronics plugged into one power strip. Perhaps you leave a laptop on all the time. No big deal right? Wrong. Any of these situations could potentially be deadly.

A fire in a dorm room is dangerous, not just for the occupant but for all of his or her neighbors. To educate you about fire safety, UAB will present a dramatic demonstration of how fast a mocked-up dorm room can burn at 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, 2011, on the lawn of UAB’s Rast Hall, 1530 11th Ave. South. The UAB Department of Occupational Health and Safety will conduct the burn, with the assistance of Birmingham Fire and Rescue, who will extinguish the blaze and share fire safety literature with students. The event will include free pizza, soft drinks and T-shirts while they last. 

Whether on campus or off, college students all have one thing in common, along with most everyone else: their rooms have furniture, mattresses, clothes, books and paper, items that are all combustible, says Mike Boyle, UAB campus safety officer with the Department of Occupational Health & Safety. It is the contents of the room, not the structure itself, which produce deadly smoke when burned. A fire can develop rapidly, Boyle says.

“Also the popularity of electronic items such as laptops, tablets, stereos, mp3 players, microwave ovens, toasters, phone chargers and other items that make it more likely that electrical outlets will be overloaded, which is a potential cause of fire,” Boyle says. Many fires are caused by cooking left unattended, and distractions such as a phone call, text message or television program can cause disaster.

About 3,750 fires occur in dormitories and student housing across the nation each year, according to National Fire Protection Agency statistics, Boyle says. Since 2000, 106 college students have died in fires in Greek housing or in off-campus housing within three miles of a university. Cooking, candles, smoking or electrical causes are among the most common reasons for accidental fires.