Fire safety week

Connor Johnson, Staff Writer

The Grand Forks Fire Department was busy all last week spreading awareness about fire prevention.

Oct. 9-15 was proclaimed as Fire Prevention Week, part of a national effort to spread awareness about fire safety. An annual event, the week usually occurs around the first few weeks of October. In Grand Forks the fire department visited 13 elementary schools during the week, and showed off their equipment to kindergartners, teaching young children how to stay safe around fire.

While the event is mostly geared towards younger children, its message shouldn’t be lost on students at the University of North Dakota. Station #2, located near the Ralph Engelstad Arena, is responsible for answering the majority of alarms activated on campus. Fortunately, most of these are false alarms, although Fire Marshal Rod Freitag is hesitant to use the term.

“I have a hard time with ‘false alarm,” Freitag said. “Because if it goes off, is it really false?”

On campus, most non-medical responses stem from burnt food either on stoves or in an oven or microwave; the microwaves are notorious themselves, with over 11 incidents with the ovens being recorded inside a month in Smith Hall.

“If you’re cooking anything, stay with it,” Freitag urges students. “Whether it’s a hot plate, microwave, or anything, don’t just walk away.”

Freitag also warns against pulling the fire alarms in the buildings, although resident halls have imposed strict punishment for any who tries to do so.

However, one thing students shouldn’t worry about is the risk of water damage if their room is equipped with a sprinkler. Contrary to what TV and movies may show, a small fire will not trigger all the sprinklers in a building. Each sprinkler head is sealed, and contains a small glass vial with fluid inside. When the area by that sprinkler is heated above a certain point, the glass shatters, releasing the seal and letting water flow into the area. This type of system reduces water damage to the building (and also saves precious electronics).

For more information regarding safety on campus, UND Police Chief Eric Plummer is also the Head of Safety, while Bob Johnson records all fire-related incidents.

The Grand Forks Fire Department has five stations located around town, the newest being Station #5 in the southeast area of town. Station #2 also houses the Northeast Hazmat Response equipment, which deals with hazardous materials in the entire northeast section of North Dakota.

Connor Johnson is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]