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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Dorm fire rates rise nationally; UA A-OK

    About 3,300 student-housing fires a year from 2002-2005 resulted in seven deaths and 46 injuries, an increase of 3 percent from 1980-2005, according to a recent report from the National Fire Protection Association.

    In 67 percent of deaths, the fires started in the bedroom.

    Smoking materials and lit candles were the leading causes of death in student housing fires, the report said. Fires in dorms were more common on weekends and from 5-11 p.m. during the week.

    Although these statistics do not reflect any UA data, the danger of fire still exists.

    Causes of dormitory fires include vandalized and poorly maintained fire alarms, overloaded electrical circuits and extension cords, and misuse of cooking appliances, according to the U.S. Fire Administration’s Web site.

    There is also a significant link between fire deaths on campus and alcohol use, according to the Web site.

    “”In more than 50 percent of adult fire fatalities, victims were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the fire,”” according to a flyer on the site.

    According to a Center for Campus Fire Safety fact sheet, all is not as frightening as it may seem.

    In a study of college fire fatalities from January 2000 to December 2006, only 11 percent occurred on campus versus 78 percent in off-campus residences.

    So far, there have been no significant dormitory fires or injuries resulting from fire at the UA, said Herb Wagner, associate director of the Risk Management and Safety Department.

    “”We are a very safe on the University of Arizona campus,”” Wagner said.

    He said that all UA residence halls have automatic and manual fire alarm systems, and that all but two residence halls have complete fire sprinkler systems.

    Sprinklers were not installed at Hopi Lodge and Babcock Inn because they are the easiest to evacuate, he said.

    Residence hall staff is trained in fire safety, and each dorm runs drills to test its evacuation plan, Wagner said.

    “”During R.A. training we have a special time designated just for fire safety,”” said Julie Freberg, an Apache-Santa Cruz resident assistant, adding that she goes over the evacuation plan with her residents at their wing meetings.

    “”The staff takes their job very seriously,”” Wagner said. “”It will save lives.””

    Despite the UA’s safety record of the UA, fires still occur.

    Pre-pharmacy junior Matt Chilese had some personal experience with that when he set off the smoke alarm in his residence hall his freshman year trying to deep-fry a Twinkie. He said the alarm went off when the kitchen filled with smoke, and that the residents were evacuated across the street.

    “”I am an example of what not to do with a Twinkie,”” he said.

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