Following the fatal Seton Hall University dorm fire in 2000, legislation required all New Jersey colleges and universities to retrofit their residence halls with sprinkler systems. It’s a move being made by institutions across the country as well.
Laura Wankel, vice president for student affairs at Seton Hall, says fire safety procedures, training, and practices have since been revised considerably. Officials work with the South Orange Fire Department and student government and Greek organizations to educate students. At the time of the fire, Wankel notes, residence hall fire systems were in full compliance with code. But all campus residence halls now contain state-of-the-art fire suppression and alarm systems.
Officials have also expanded fire prevention efforts in relation to academic buildings. A Fire Safety Awareness Team was trained to expand the number of employees with the knowledge and skill to assist with education and compliance needs across campus. “We are also running more complex fire drills,” adds Wankel. Commonly used exit paths in buildings are blocked off so that occupants can come up with alternative strategies for leaving a building.