A crowd of over 100 students and faculty watched a Georgia Tech ‘dorm room’ come down in flames Wednesday afternoon.
The planned burning was part of a fire safety demonstration organized by the school and various state and local agencies.
After firemen lit up the mock dorm room, it burned down in less than two minutes. Campus Fire Marshal Michael Hodgson is charged with publicizing fire safety at Tech. He says most college students haven’t had any fire safety education since they were in elementary school.
“They still remember ‘stop, drop and roll,’ but ‘stop, drop and roll’ is for when you’re on fire,” Hodgson says. “College-age, they’re on their own for the first time, so it’s a very dangerous situation. They think they’re invincible and they don’t live very safely. So it’s our job to get that message out to them.”
Public Safety Commissioner and GOP gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine warned the crowd not to overlook fire safety.
“Nothing is better than a picture and what we’re showing here is how quick that fire can spread,” says Oxendine. “It’s not just a matter of making sure you’re safe in your own dorm room, but it’s making sure that your neighbor is safe in his dorm room, because what he does can cost you your life.”
According to the non-profit organization, The Center for Campus Fire Safety, 99 people have died in campus fires since 2000.
Almost half of those victims were killed in fires started by cooking, smoking, candles, or electrical malfunctions.
The school decided to host the event again after students favorably responded to last year’s demonstration.
“We heard a lot of good feedback anecdotally from students about how surprised they were last year at the quickness of how the blaze spreads and the ferocity,” says Assistant Vice President for Environmental Health and Safety Mark Demyanek.
Demyanek says the economy didn’t have much affect on the planning of the demonstration.
Home Depot donated the materials for the mock dorm room, while Domino’s Pizza and Coca-Cola contributed food and drinks to help publicize the event.