Kennesaw State University conducts simulated dorm burn

Kennesaw, GA. -- Oct. 17, 2013 — Fire safety and prevention tips topped the agenda this week during a simulated dorm burn on Kennesaw State University’s Campus Green. The exercise got underway shortly after noon to take advantage of large throngs of students changing class on the suburban Atlanta campus.

KSU facilities personnel constructed a mock dorm room with supplies donated by The Home Depot. For maximum visibility, it was situated on a busy corner of the Campus Green near the main entrance to the Carmichael Student Center. Combustible items such as bedspreads, curtains, books and notebook paper fueled the fire, which was ignited when a lighted candle fell into a trashcan in the room.

Within seconds, fire consumed the plastic trashcan and activated the fire/smoke detector on the ceiling. Flames traveled up the window curtains, jumped to the bedspread and quickly spread across the room.

“It only took a couple of minutes for the flames to reach the ceiling. I watched our students’ reaction and many in the crowd were visibly shocked when the flames rolled over the top of the structure,” said Jeff Cooper, KSU’s director, University Housing and Residence Life. “It’s important to note that Kennesaw State University Housing, unlike this test structure, is well-built with fire sprinklers and fire extinguishers in every room.”

KSU police and crisis coordinators worked hand in hand to maintain crowd control and ensure no one got too close to the flames or the intense heat. Yellow caution tape marked the boundaries of the safe perimeter zone, outside of which several personnel faced the crowd to monitor the situation.

“We wanted to take every precaution, yet allow the crowd of mostly students to get a first-hand look at what can happen when a little candle is inadvertently knocked over in their room,” said Robert Lang, KSU’s assistant vice president, Strategic Security and Safety.

“Fire can quickly engulf a bedroom, so students need to learn about fire prevention and what to do to keep themselves and others safe in the event of an emergency,” said Lang. “Cobb County Fire & Emergency Services personnel did an excellent job safely extinguishing the blaze.”

With more than 25,000 students, faculty and staff on the grounds of the almost 400-acre campus, KSU functions like a small city. Some 3,500 residence hall students live on the campus and fire safety training is an ongoing topic addressed by the resident advisers.

“Kennesaw State is the third-largest university in Georgia,” said Cooper. “Our growing student population comes from 130 countries, and we want to keep each and every one of them safe.”

The school, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, offers 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution that will kick off its nascent football season in 2015.