12th annual Fire Factor held at Speakers Circle

The event included free food, the annual room burn and an obstacle course.
The Columbia Fire Department organized a fire demonstration to promote residence hall safety Wednesday afternoon at Speakers Circle. The fire destroyed the dorm room presentation in one minute and 43 seconds.

In a matter of seconds the fire spread from the floor to the curtains, the curtains to the bed sheets and from the bed sheets to the posters.

The room was soon entirely engulfed in flames. Mizzou Fire Factor 2012, the 12th annual on campus, had begun.

The Columbia Fire Department built the replica dorm room, which turned to ash in front of a large crowd of spectators.

“It was pretty intense,” junior Mason Bartlett said of the blaze. “It goes up quick. It’s pretty overwhelming.”

Local firefighters quickly put out the fire, revealing the the charred room.

“We’ve held the room burn for the last four years,” assistant fire marshall Shawn McCollom said. “It’s gotten a little better as we’ve learned what works, but for the most part, it has stayed the same.”

The event, attended by about 2,000 students, is held to improve fire safety awareness as well as show students what it is like to be on the scene of a fire, according to the MU Department of Environmental Health and Safety’s website.

“It takes a lot of effort to hold this every year,” McCollom said. “I work for the fire department and half my time is leased to the university, so it’s my responsibility to coordinate the event. This is my sixth year working for the school as well as the department.”

Lots of groups work with the fire department to make the event possible, McCollom said. The Department of Student Activities is responsible for reserving the street closing while the fire department takes care of the logistics.

“We contacted the fire department to ask for a spot and they were nice enough to provide a tent for our booth,” said Carter Kinkead, chapter president of the Student Association for Fire Ecology on campus.

The national president of SAFE, Daniel Godwin, attended the event.

“We’re here to talk about fire education to prevent wildfires,” Godwin said. “We also work with campus groups to help learn to manage prescribed fires.”

Students who attended the room burn were given a survey about their experience, which served as their ticket for free Shakespeare’s Pizza and a T-shirt as advertised by the Department of Student Activities. Students could then proceed to take part in an obstacle course in full firefighter gear.

“The line was really long,” freshman John Hildebrandt said. “I over heard one lady say, ‘It’s amazing what college kids will do for free food.”

Some attendees at Fire Factor were veterans of the event.

“I’ve come to this for the last few years,” Bartlett said. “Its always a huge crowd.”

Students from other local schools, such as Columbia College and Stephens College, were also invited to attend.

“We have not held the event on the other college campuses in the area,” McCollom said. “So far it has only been on MU campus.”

The Department of Student Activities posted a video of the room burn online, which can be found on the YouTube page, “mizzoudsa.”

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