18th annual room burning held at Speakers Circle Wednesday

MU community raised awareness of potential fire factors while enjoying games, food and promotional items.

The 18th annual Fire Factor and Room Burning/Pedestrian and Vehicle Education (PAVE) kicked off with the simulated burning of a dorm room on Wednesday, Sept.19 at Speakers Circle.

“It looks just like a typical room. In the back you’ll see over by the TV there’s a laundry hamper,” James Pasley, Assistant Fire Marshal at Columbia Fire Department said. “We’re going to ignite the laundry hamper to utilize as the source of ignition.”

After a short countdown, the fire started. It took about three minutes for the entire room to collapse into ashes.

“We tell you a lot of times we want you to get out of your residence halls in three or four minutes,” Pasley said. “Listen very closely at how quickly you notice the smoke detector, once the smoke detector sounds the clock for evacuation starts.”

The event is part of Safe Mizzou Week, a series of safety events held within a week to educate students on various safety measures.

Each participant was handed a survey sheet which was used as a voucher for a free T-shirt and pizza.

“I definitely think it’s important for the students to see that and see what they could be getting themselves into if they don’t follow safety hazards or if they don’t listen to safety requirements,” junior Madison O’Dell said.

O’Dell is a member of the Campus Activities Programming Board. She believes that it is important for students to learn about ways to escape this situation. Campus Activities Coordinator Christina Walls agrees.

“The room burns very quickly within a minute to three minutes,” Walls said. “Our message is just to get whatever you need and get out of your room because you don’t have much time once the fire flashes over. The room burning is definitely a must-see for everyone, and it’s always one of my favorite events throughout the Safe Mizzou Week.”

In years past, this event only featured the dorm room burning simulation. However, this year participants also had the opportunity to attend fire extinguisher training and other safety sessions, including a vehicle education session. This session was led by Highway Patrol Sergeant Scott White. White said 65 to 67 percent of car crash victims in Missouri were not wearing seat belts.

“We can educate folks, we can talk about it, we can tell anecdotal stories, we can tell real stories, but when they see a physical representation of what can happen in a crash when [a car] rolls over and what can happen to the human body, that really resonates with people,” White said. “A lot of people think that they can hold on to their steering wheel when the incident happens, but really you are battling against the physics at that moment, and there is really not much that you can do about it.”

Several campus sources also set up stations at the event, including the Sustainability Office, MU Wellness Resource Center, MU Police Department, Boone County Office Of Emergency Management, Missouri State Highway Patrol and MU Environmental Health and Safety Department.

The fire extinguisher workshop was a popular spot, where participants could fight a small fire with a portable fire extinguisher.

“I hope people understand that using the fire extinguisher is a pretty simple process, just remember the rhymes of P.A.S.S. which is Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the discharge handle and Sweep from side to side,” Health Physicist Rachel Pope said.

One of other frequently visited stations was a firefighter challenge where participants were asked to try some of the basic routines as if they were a firefighter heading to an emergency. The entire process was timed, and the fastest person won a Chipotle gift card.

Junior Anne Tenkhoff said she respected firefighters more after she participated in the firefighter challenge.

“It’s definitely harder than you think,” Tenkhoff said. “Everything weighs a lot more than you anticipated.”

Edited by Morgan Smith | mosmith@themaneater.com

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