Missing fire extinguishers hazardous to residents

By Rosemarie Gonzalez
April 3, 2003

Paul Williams

If there was a fire at Cabrini, there is no sure way to know whether or not the student population would be safe.

Smoke detectors and fire alarms may be available to give warnings, but they are not any good if extinguishers are not available for use.

“The problem with this is that if there is a fire, it will not be able to be put out right away,” Charlie Schaffner, director of Public Safety, said.

Their purpose is to put out fires, but at Cabrini, extinguishers have been used as a means for entertainment among the students. Residents and guests on campus use extinguishers to spray each other for fun or to have fights with them.

“I think that’s scary and it makes me feel unsafe. I can’t believe students would be so irresponsible to put others’ lives in danger. I think those responsible should be severely punished or fined,” Stephanie Heinz, junior and resident assistant at Woodcrest, said.

An incident occurred in the third floor laundry room of the Cabrini Apartment Complex, in which the lint trap of a dryer caught on fire. There are supposed to be two fire extinguishers handy on each floor of the CAC, and there was not one available for use.

“Fortunately no one got hurt. To put out the fire, I had to run downstairs to the second floor and get a fire extinguisher from there,” Angie Hodgeman, coordinator of residence life and resident director of the CAC, said.

The resident assistant of the third floor in CAC notified public safety and the fire extinguisher was replaced the very next day.

“We usually find that the fire extinguishers are missing when officers on-duty patrol the residential areas, but if anyone else finds that they are missing and lets us know, they are greatly appreciated,” Schaffner said.

As important as extinguishers are, they are missing all around campus, even though $1500 was spent to replace them all around the school last August.

“As a result of last year’s damages, we had to go and replace every missing fire extinguisher and smoke detector. This has been a continuing problem ever since I have been at Cabrini,” Schaffner said.

Due to the students using the fire extinguishers as toys to spray each other, housekeeping and facilities must clean up after them. It gives the school’s staff, unnecessary extra work to do.

“Replacements for the fire extinguishers are available, but that does not mean that the students should be playing around with them. It causes more work for everyone here,” Schaffner said.

Students pay enough money to take classes and get their education. There really is no point to go about destroying property and having to pay more money than necessary to live on school property.

“Depending on how major the damages are and who steps forward in taking responsibility that is how much is charged. If we do not know who is responsible then the whole area is charged,” Schaffner said.

Not having any fire extinguishers on hand for any kind of emergency – small or large – is a major fire hazard.

“It makes me feel scared because what if there is a fire and there isn’t an extinguisher near by that can be used? The fear of death would be flying through my head, or the fact that the residents couldn’t get out in time, and it [the fire] would spread,” sophomore Stephanie Moffa said.

A lack of fire extinguishers seems to be a big problem that a lot of students do not know about, at Cabrini.

“I think we need the fire extinguishers to make us feel safe because we could have a fire at any given time,” freshman Elidari Ramos said.

If every single detail that sways its way across campus is not known, then the fact that there is a fire extinguisher missing right next to someone’s dorm room is very likely.

“The best you can do to prevent the worst from happening is to follow the rules and to listen to the fire alarms. Even if there is no fire, the only way to know that you’ll be safe is to exit in an effective manner,”
Schaffner said.

Posted to the web by Nina Scimenes

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Rosemarie Gonzalez

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