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Environmental Health and Safety Department promotes Fire Safety Month

Carnegie Mellon’s Environmental Health and Safety department is hosting a number of events to highlight Campus Fire Safety Month, an extension of their stated guiding principles: “to support the University’s mission and values by sustaining and enhancing a safe and healthy environment for the Carnegie Mellon community.”

Mary Sickles, training and communications specialist for Environmental Health and Safety, told The Tartan that “there’s a national campus Fire Safety Month and organization. It’s all about raising awareness, these events weren’t prompted by any particular issues. It’s important that students are aware of fire hazards and fire prevention in the areas where they reside and work, like labs and makerspaces.”

Primarily, Environmental Health and Safety wants to spread awareness of fire hazards and fire escapes, Sickles says. Steve Lane, Fire Safety Specialist at Environmental Health and Safety emphasized, “treat every fire alarm like it’s the real thing, always evacuate when it goes off, and listen to your RA’s and floor marshals who can help you exit the building safely. Nobody gets in trouble for reporting an accident or fire, and we want to know as soon as possible.”

Though the events started with a humble Fire Safety Month discussion and trivia panel last Wednesday, future events are to be more hands-on, like the fire extinguisher training event by the Fence next Tuesday. Sickles and Lane were excited to detail the nuance there is to fire extinguishers, some of which will be covered in their upcoming event.

Sickles explained, “We focus on the different types of fire extinguishers, and how to actually use them on a simulated fire.” The simulated fire is presented on a screen that responds to a mock extinguisher pointing a green laser at it.

Lane made sure to address a common misconception, that all fire extinguishers are the same. “We have water extinguishers for Class A fires, we have dry chemical extinguishers for Class A, B, and C fires, and we have a Carbon Dioxide extinguisher for electrical fires. We even have special types of extinguishers for combustible metals like Magnesium, Titanium, Sodium, as well as Class K extinguishers for kitchen fires caused by things like vegetable oils,” he elaborated.

The upcoming Fire Safety Month event will be demonstrating on a real fire, made possible through a propane fueled contraption. “It’s very much safe. It’s a small burner that’s electronically controlled, and a water extinguisher will be used to put out the flames,” Lane said.

Lane says he would like everybody on campus to sign up for a fire extinguisher training course, of which there are a sessions held every week. “Courses span various departments and are held in areas like makerspaces and libraries. We can even bring the class to you,” he said. He suggested that those interested should email Environmental Health and Safety.

When asked if the current Fire Safety Month initiatives have anything to do with campus modernization and the installment of several new buildings at Carnegie Mellon, Lane was sure to state: “At any time on campuses, it’s good to be aware of fires and the chances of fires. Fire safety is ongoing. It never stops, even in the face of Carnegie Mellon modernization. The biggest thing we can do is educate students and staff.”

Shailendra Sinyh, director of Environmental Health and Safety at Carnegie Mellon, said, “we have so many students on campus, and since it’s the Fall Semester — when all the new students have poured in — it’s the perfect time to spread awareness and teach fire safety.” He emphasized, “student safety is our number one priority.”