College Planning & Management

MAY 2013

College Planning & Management is the information resource for professionals serving the college and university market. Covering facilities, security, technology and business.

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Page 37 of 99

FIRE! SEEING IS BELIEVING. Student housing presents the greatest risk of on-campus fires. With this fact in mind, the Center for Campus Fire Safety ( offers information on using a live fire demonstration to illustrate this. This fact-based fire-safety educational tool is an effective way to educate students, showing how normal, everyday combustible material found in every residence hall room can cause a major fire, injury, or death. It also shows how a quick-response fire detection and sprinkler system can greatly reduce such danger. Worst of all, Boland hall had no sprinkler system. As is the case in most jurisdictions, new residence halls must have sprinkler systems, but there were no requirements in New Jersey for retrofitting older buildings. After the fire, New Jersey's state legislature introduced a number of bills that would require sprinkler systems in all existing residence halls regardless of when they were constructed. Two months after the Seton Hall fire, as discussions continued in the legislature, a fraternity house at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania caught fire, killing five students. That fire widened the focus of New Jersey's legislative proposals. In addition to residence halls, residential sororities and fraternities were added to the list of facilities that would be required to retrofit with sprinkler systems. In July of 2000, then Governor Christie Whitman signed a bill to that effect on the Seton Hall campus. It was the first such law in the nation. "The Seton Hall fire was a wake up call," Hormann says. "It set off a national campus fire-safety movement." Despite fire codes calling for fire sprinkler systems in student residence halls, many states and local jurisdictions don't require retrofitting older student housing. That leaves many residence halls unprotected. According to the NFPA, sprinkler systems protected 38 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / MAY 2013 WWW.PLANNING 4EDUCATION.COM

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