VT to conduct residence hall fire simulation today on drillfield

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With the holidays fast approaching, strands of twinkling lights and holiday décor strewn from the walls may seem like a fun idea.

They could also turn deadly.

A controlled residence hall fire simulation organized by Virginia Tech Environmental Health and Safety will highlight fire awareness, will emphasize just how fast fires can spread and will illustrate important tips for staying safe if there is a fire.

The demonstration will take place on the Drillfield today, Nov. 20, at 2 p.m. and is open to the entire community. It will include the simulation of two identical residence hall rooms; one will be equipped with sprinklers and one will not. The Blacksburg Fire Department will be on scene to extinguish the fire.

The simulation will serve as a reminder for the entire campus community about safe fire practices in residence halls, off-campus residences and at home. Virginia Tech has a number of housing and residential life fire safety and regulations designed to keep students safe.

For instance, only 10 percent of wall space in a residence hall room may be covered with combustible decorative materials (posters, pictures, papers, textiles, etc.). Flags and tapestries have to be hung flush on the wall. They cannot be used for curtains.

Only “cool” mini-lights are authorized for use in student rooms, and they must be strung together according to the manufacturer’s recommendation (usually two-to-three strings).

Electric stoves, George Foreman-type grills, Halogen lamps, toaster ovens, toasters, air conditioners, space heaters, hot plates and other open-coiled appliances are not permitted in residence hall rooms.

Power outlet strips and multi plug outlet adaptors must be UL listed, must have a maximum ampere rating of 15 and must have an integral circuit breaker or fuse (a reset switch or button). Power outlet strips and multi-plug outlet adaptors must be plugged directly into a wall and only two such devices per student are permitted. Extension cords are not permitted.

All hallways, stairwells and doors with exit signs placed over them must remain clear at all times. Bicycles, trash, furniture, boxes and similar items may not be placed in hallways or stairwells at any time.

The Blacksburg Fire Department responds to all fire alarms. All occupants must exit the building whenever a fire alarm sounds, regardless of the cause, and follow directions from university officials. Please refer to https://www.housing.vt.edu/experience/Halls/fire/what_to_do.html for specific evacuation instructions. Failure to evacuate properly during a fire alarm is a breach of university policy. Use stairwells in the event of fire.

The Virginia State Fire Marshal’s office is required to inspect the common and mechanical areas of each residence hall annually. In addition, 20 percent of student rooms are randomly selected for inspection. The inspection focuses on the proper use of electrical cords, compliance with the decorations regulation, smoke detector testing and damaged sprinkler heads.