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LEADING COMMUNITY RISK REDUCTION - page 13 / 75

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To support Brannigan’s argument, Donath (2000) also found that students ignore

fire alarms. During an education program delivered to the Association of College

Administration Professionals, a speaker argued that students refuse to leave a building

once an alarm is sounded due to the large number of false alarms. In addition, Donath

found that once an alarm is sounded, many colleges require a security officer to check for

a real fire before the fire department is called. Donath argues such practices place local

fire departments in a difficult situation after the clock has been running for up to 30

minutes.

Brannigan further described lessons learned from two life-loss dormitory fires.

The first involved Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island on December 13,

1977. This was a high-rise dormitory of non-combustible construction. The building

contained dead-end corridors, doors with louvers to allow air to return to the corridor, and

Christmas decorations lining the corridor. A fire occurred in a fourth floor room

occupied by three women. They opened a window, and the fire spread to the corridor.

The result was the loss of nine women due to the fire. In addition, two jumped to their

deaths before the fire department arrived. When firefighters reached the fourth floor, the

fire was almost out. The fire had consumed the paper decorations.

Demers (1978) provided an overview of the NFPA investigation that followed the

Providence College tragedy. The NFPA report confirmed the most significant factor

contributing to the deaths of eight of the ten students was the presence of highly

combustible decorations in the corridor. The dead-end corridor was a contributing factor

in the deaths of four students. Demers concluded that the presence of highly combustible

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