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Fire Safety 101

August 31, 2009, 4:54 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Fire Safety 101
College campuses across KELOLAND are starting to fill with students.  And with campus life, comes a list of dangers including fire.

In an emergency, it's up to the residential life staff at Augustana College to help their fellow students. On Monday, that means braving a smoke filled hallway.

“As you got towards the end, the smoke got heavier. You kind of start to panic a little bit, but you just have to keep crawling out," Augustana sophomore Jackie Miles said.

Outside, smoke is rolling out an open window, and one student didn't get out quickly enough. It's a dramatic sight, but completely set up.

"We look at the fire situations in out buildings and make sure that if there is a fire, they know how to respond. We want to give them the right information and the right tools so that they can be a helpful part and also keep themselves safe," Rick Tupper of Augustana College Campus Safety said.

The four-hour fire academy ended with students getting to watch what organizers hope they never experience: a pair of dorm room fires.

The first mock room has a fire in the garbage can. Within seconds, it spreads and dark smoke fills the room. A minute and a half into the fire, the room is so hot, everything ignites. That's when it's time for firefighters to step in.

"It's really been an eye opener to how fast a fire spreads and how it's not just the fire that affects you, it's the smoke. And you don't have much time before inhaling all that smoke can really get to you," Miles said.

By the time the fire ended in the first room, everything was burned or melted and destroyed. Then the students got an opportunity to see how sprinklers save lives.

The fire is set in the second room and spreads. But this time, just 21 seconds later, the sprinkler system activates and holds the flames in check. It's part of a visual lesson that could prove invaluable for the students.

"We want them to know that they can play a role, and if they have that knowledge, they can step in and maybe save a building or save a life," Tupper said.

Knowledge that organizers say makes their campus safer, just days before classes resume.

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