Greek fire drill: Students get realistic lesson in fire safetyPosted September 22nd, 2011 by Mike
[Gazette-times] About 100 sorority and fraternity members from Oregon State University crawled through smoke, doused flames with fire extinguishers and learned what it feels like to wear more than 40 pounds of firefighting gear Wednesday during the sixth annual Greek Fire Academy.
Organized by the Corvallis Fire Department, the academy is designed to teach fire safety practices. The lecture portion of the academy was held at the LaSells Stewart Center; the fire demonstration was in Reser Stadium’s parking lot.
Representatives from OSU’s Greek houses and co-ops who attended the event walked away with a new understanding of the dangers of fire, and how to react in emergencies.
“We’ve probably got quite a bit of stuff to do,” said Kevin Dixon, 25, a resident of Antioch House, a Christian fraternity. “I need to make sure the sprinklers aren’t blocked by anything. I’d rather have my stuff wet than burned.”
Dixon had just witnessed a live fire demonstration that showed the benefits of having working fire alarms and sprinklers: The left side of a trailer was equipped with the fire safety devices; the right side of the trailer was not. As a direct consequence, a fire started in the specially equipped trailer scorched everything inside in no time; the left side was equipped with sprinklers, which quenched the flames within seconds.
Many participants said the most eye-opening event involved crawling through a 16-foot, smoky trailer. Greek members were instructed to stay low to the ground, where they could still find oxygen, and save a teddy bear before finding the trailer’s exit in the haze.
“College kids may think it’s silly, but it’s actually going through and seeing how it would be if (they were in) a fire,” said volunteer firefighter Nick Haney.
Haney told students that inhaling one or two deep breaths of smoke could be deadly.
“I’m trying to be realistic as far as what they’re going to see,” he said.
Sarah Finnerty, president of the cooperative house named The Courtyard, said she appreciated getting a glimpse into the realities of being caught in a burning building.
“It was kind of scary because that actually could happen,” Finnerty said.
Fire Prevention Officer Jim Patton said that is exactly why the department hosts the event.
Emily Gillespie can be reached at 541-758-9548 or emily.gillespie