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Polito declares September Campus Fire Safety Month

September has been officially designated as Campus Fire Safety Month by Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. PHOTO BY BOSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT
September has been officially designated as Campus Fire Safety Month by Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. PHOTO BY BOSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito has officially designated September as Campus Fire Safety Month across the Commonwealth in an effort to raise awareness of fire risks at colleges and universities, officials said.

“Massachusetts is the home away from home to thousands of college students, and many upper classmen live off-campus, where potentially dangers are much more common,” the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services stated in a Wednesday press release.

The Boston Fire Department is working with Polito to promote campus fire safety and has done so for the past several years, spokesperson Steve MacDonald said.

“As recently as last week we had a film crew tape firefighters making an awareness video, which is now posted on YouTube,” MacDonald said. “We’ve participated by doing videos and several firefighters have spoken at different colleges around Boston.”

Fire incidents mainly occur with those who are living off campus for the first time, MacDonald added.

“Students are out of the dorm and they’re on their own,” MacDonald said. “They don’t have someone telling them what to do anymore.”

According to the release, Polito’s initiative also seeks to warn students of possible situations where fire alarms may not be working. MacDonald advised residents to check their environments and hold landlords responsible for installing proper safety equipment.

“Take five minutes to think about things like what you would do if you woke up at three in the morning and your apartment was filled with smoke,” MacDonald said. “A lot of it is just common sense things and taking responsibility.”

Colleges and universities in the Boston area are also doing their part to decrease cases of fires in campus residences.

For instance, Emerson College’s official fire safety policy states that students could face expulsion if they violate the policy. The policy also lists various items and actions that are against fire code. It bans unauthorized appliances, excessive wall and door decorations and open flames.

The Emerson College Police Department stated on its website that it is trying to improve responses to possible fires by conducting fire drills and publishing the results in a campus-wide email.

Several Boston residents expressed support for Polito’s Campus Fire Safety Month.

Rachel Bonner, 23, of Allston, said raising awareness about fire safety is essential in a city like Boston. She expressed concern about fire safety in her own home.

“As far as prevention goes, I know some of the houses are pretty old and aren’t very fire-safe,” she said. “Where I live there’s no real fire escape and I live above a courtyard so even if I used it, I would just be stuck in the courtyard.”

Shao Yu Wu, 23, of Brighton, said she’s noticed that fire safety is an issue for most students.

“I’ve seen a lot of fire trucks and ambulances recently, probably since college kids started coming back for school,” Wu said.

She agreed it is important for the city and state governments to educate Boston residents to prevent emergencies.

“Educating people on how to use equipment is really important,” Wu said.  “I know a lot of people who have been burned because they don’t really know what they’re doing.”

John Kramer, 35, of Allston, was also enthusiastic about the idea of Campus Fire Safety Month.

“Students need to know things about basic fire safety, like how to avoid a grease fire, not overloading their sockets, and ensuring that their fire detectors actually work,” Kramer said.  “I think it’s a great idea.”

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