OXFORD – Little more than a week after the fifth anniversary of a fire that killed three students at the University of Mississippi, representatives of the state Fire Marshal’s Office were at Ole Miss this week to promote campus fire safety.
The visit Tuesday was the first stop on a tour promoting National Campus Fire Safety Month.
“We are targeting the four leading contributing causes of campus-related fires – cooking, smoking, candles and alcohol,” said Tammy Peavy, the agency’s special projects officer.
All four factors are common to fire disasters among most populations, but alcohol is especially troublesome among college students, said Ricky Davis, state chief deputy fire marshal.
“One of the big problems that we have is being impaired,” he said. “If you have alcohol and smoking, too, you can easily forget that you’ve set your cigarette down. The same thing would be true with illegal or prescription drugs.”
Peavy emphasized taking residence hall fire alarms seriously.
“If your dorm fire alarm goes off, we encourage you to take that as an opportunity to practice your escape plan,” Peavy said. “You never know when it’s going to be the real thing, and you could be trapped. We do encourage you to evacuate the building every time the alarm goes off.”
Several members of Alpha Tau Omega paid particular attention. Three members of their fraternity died Aug. 28, 2004, when the Ole Miss chapter house, which then lacked both sprinklers and sufficient smoke alarms, burned. Since the house’s rebuilding, fire safety awareness has been heightened.
“Our fire alarms are set to go off with almost anything. We’ve had plenty of false alarms, but better to be on the safe side,” said Jake Harvey, a senior ATO from Dallas. “Everybody has to leave the house.”
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal