The University Record, October 8, 1996

Take a look at building plans during Fire Prevention Week

By Patricia Watt, Occupational Safety & Environmental Health
and Robert Patrick, Department of Public Safety

 

Every department should take this week---Oct. 7-11---to emphasize the importance of fire safety both on and off campus.

A controlled fire can cook, heat, provide hot water and be a positive factor in the manufacture of many materials. But a fire uncontrolled can be destructive to human life, property and natural resources. The University places a high priority on fire prevention, detection and control.

Take time during Fire Prevention Week to evaluate the emergency plans for building evacuation. The Occupational Safety & Environmental Health Department, in conjunction with the fire marshall in the Department of Public Safety, has a model evacuation plan that departments can use in developing their own specific written building plan. Copies may be requested by contacting Patricia Watt at Banyan Vines Patricia Watt@OSEH@OSEH, or send e-mail to pmwatt@umich.edu, or call 647-1142.

If there is already a fire evacuation plan in your department, take time to review it. Make sure it includes a designated building coordinator, methods of communication, building notification system, coordination among departments, and a plan of where people should go in case of an emergency. Inspect your building---make sure that evacuation diagrams are posted, that fire extinguishers and alarm systems are in good working order, that exits are marked and that exit ways are kept clear and unobstructed.

Most importantly, make sure building occupants know what they should do in case of an emergency---institute periodic fire drills (remember to contact the electric shop at 647-0246 and DPS at 764-3434 before sounding the alarm!).

Teach staff and students to close doors behind them as they evacuate. At Bowling Green State University, a fire started when a "headache candle" was left unattended in a dorm room on the top floor. Two resident advisers attempted to extinguish the blaze with fire extinguishers, but by the time they arrived, the heat and smoke were too intense for them to close the door. The fire spread anywhere there was an open door.

Let's observe Fire Prevention Week by taking a look at our buildings and ensuring that they are fire safe. Prevention is the key!