On January 19, 1998 a fire erupted in a Seton Hall University dormitory killing three students and injuring 58.
Exactly five years later, a fire ripped through a Warren Wilson College dormitory in North Carolina injuring one person and leaving more than 50 students without a place to stay.
University officials from around the nation continue to overlook a major problem on their campuses–the lack of fire sprinkler systems.
It’s as though the lives of innocent students who reside in residence halls are unimportant. Fires continue to occur in dormitories that lack sprinklers. Each year, an average of 1,800 residence hall fires lead to injury, millions of dollars in property damage and death.
Still, this continues to happen.
FAMU is one of the many schools that have fire alarms, but lack sprinklers in some residence halls. Alarms can alert people of fires, but can’t extinguish them. Without sprinklers, tenants can become trapped in a fire. They cannot get past the flames in the halls.
Neither Wheatley nor Truth Hall has sprinklers. That fact sends the message that the lives of those residents are expendable. If their lives were considered valuable, sprinklers would be installed in their dorms.
The nation’s university officials attempt to clear their conscience by saying renovations are entirely too expensive. No price should be put on the lives of human beings.
Sprinklers are in hotels where people spend short visits. Yet, they are missing where the country’s college students live for eight or more months each year.
Since the Seton Hall blaze, 38 college students have died from campus fires in the U.S. No more students should be added to that number. Schools must install proper sprinkler systems to ensure no other lives are wasted.
Students should be enjoying life, not being mourned.
Dominique Drake for The Famuan.