COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - "Know your route and get out!"
That's the message firefighters want to get out to college students as a part of the University of South Carolina's Fire Safety Day. The goal is to bring awareness to the danger of a dorm fire.
On Monday, fire officials spent all day building a mock dorm room from the ground up. In that room they intentionally put fire hazards they typically find during room inspections. On Tuesday students get the chance to go through the room to see if they can identify those specific items.
This is the sixth year USC Fire Safety, along with the Columbia Fire Department, has ignited some form of a mock area where students might spend their time, like a dorm room or kitchen. The goal of the demonstrations is for fire officials to reach out and hopefully get the message across that fire hazards are not something to take lightly.
"We could typically find a violation in most any room. A lot of times it's things that they really just don't think about. What's most important is that we get the awareness out there because there are so many things that are fire hazards that people aren't familiar with and if we have that opportunity to get that information out there, we could possibly stop a fire," says Todd Griffin, USC's Fire Marshal.
Anything like extension cords, hot plates, candles, oversized bulbs in lights and covering a smoke detector are all things that can cause a fire. The thing people are most shocked by is how fast a room can become engulfed in flames.
"In the past when we've done this event, we've had the room to reach flashover within 90 seconds. Flashover is when all the materials in the room are burning and the gases reach a certain temperature and the whole room spontaneously combusts. That's within 90 seconds. With all the synthetic materials that the furniture and everything's made of nowadays, it doesn't take long at all for that to happen," says Griffin.
Griffin says USC's last fire in a residence hall was about four years ago. And while it has been some time – officials continue to do mock demonstrations each year because they want people to be aware of something they might find, not only in a dorm room but, in their own home.