Power cord causes dorm fire resulting in a short safety lesson from local firefighter

A fire was started August 22 in Paddyfote. Last week in Paddyfote girl’s dorm hall, a resident’s outlet caught on fire due to an illegal extension cord plugged into the socket. This issue arose due to a violation of the student housing contract.

The contract states that residents are not allowed to have extension cords and are limited to surge protectors. Surge protectors are supposed to regulate the voltage supplied to an electric device by either blocking or shorting to ground voltages above a safe threshold. This is why surge protectors are preferred over extension cords.

One resident affected by this was Brittney Washington, a first year English education student. Washington said she was extremely upset when the fire alarm went off because she thought it was a joke. Coincidentally, that following Tuesday there was a scheduled fire drill for Paddyfote Complex A and B, the male dorm halls. Due to a glitch in the system, Paddyfote girl’s dorms C and D went off as well.

There was a problem with evacuating residents because the fire alarm didn’t sound off loud enough to be heard on the higher levels of the dorm complex. It caused confusion when some residents were not sure if the fire alarm was going off.

Resident Advisor, Phillip Bryant, a third year health science student said “It was a normal fire drill, but strangely went off on one side and not the other because of a glitch in the system.”

In most cases evacuation efforts can be hindered since fire alarms are often ignored and vandalized. When living in a dorm, residents are on alert to have random fire drills.

According to U.S. Fire Administration/FEMA Topical Fire Research Series, there are about 17,000 fires that occur in collegiate housing each year. In addition, smoke alarms are operated in 79 percent of dormitory fires. However, fire drills are often ignored by students who think that they are false alarms. Improperly maintained smoke and fire alarm systems inhibit early detection of fires.

Paddyfote D dorm hall resident and first year finance student Ieesha Abdur-Rahman said, “I thought it was a joke and somebody being stupid and they would not let us lock our door.”