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Faculty and Staff: Are They Prepared for Fire?

University Business, Nov 2009

It’s not just students who should be educated in fire prevention. College and university employees may need to brush up on what to do in the case of an occurrence. “All too often we find that the faculty, and to some extent staff, are woefully unprepared, misinformed, or plain naive about fire safety,” says Paul Martin, vice president for The Center for Campus Fire Safety.

The center’s Firewise Campus, a two-day training program geared toward higher ed safety staff, is led by a team of fire safety professionals. The program encourages the exchange of ideas and information that administrators can apply at their respective schools. “We give them a whole toolkit of materials that they can use, [take] back to their campus, and institute in their fire training program,” says Martin.

New Georgia Tech employees are trained in emergency procedures involving fires through an online PowerPoint presentation. Campus Fire Marshall Michael Hodgson explains that newcomers are instructed to visit this site and complete the training.

Michael Halligan, the fire marshal at the University of Utah, suggests encouraging faculty to take on a leadership role in their classroom in the event of a fire alarm sounding off. He says it is beneficial to prepare faculty “to accept that role that they are in charge of that evacuation [and leading students] to a predetermined meeting point.”