Firemen fighting a raging fire

Fire Safety Worries in Higher Education

  September 4, 2018

By Dan Hounsell

As parents send their sons and daughters off to colleges and universities across the country, some maintenance and engineering managers might find themselves answering questions from parents on a topic that has nothing to do with courses, tuition or classroom technology. The topic is fire safety.

A University of Houston fire marshal recently urged parents to check on whether the dorms and apartments they drop their college students off at are outfitted with fire extinguishers, functional smoke detectors and have current inspections, according to The Houston Chronicle. The advice comes after five people, including a Pasadena man, died in a fire at an apartment complex fire in San Marcos near Texas State University.

“I would want to see what kind of inspection records they had from the municipality that they’re in. I wanted to make sure their smoke detectors work,” says Fire Marshal Chris McDonald. “That they had working fire extinguishers in their apartment. I want to make sure the employees are trained, and they know what to do if there in case there is a fire.”

The July fire started at the Iconic Village Apartments, built in the 1970s, and roared through two buildings at the Vintage Pads Apartments, built in 1963. The Iconic Village Apartments, where all five bodies were recovered, apparently did not have a sprinkler system.

All but one of University of Houston on-campus housing facilities have sprinkler systems, McDonald said. The on-campus complex without sprinklers was built in 1992 and recently updated its fire alarm system. It is planning to instal a sprinkler system, McDonald says.

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and chief editor of Facilitiesnet.com.


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