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LEADING COMMUNITY RISK REDUCTION - page 38 / 75

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protected students who reside in college dormitories. Finally, the author sought policies

and procedures that may be used to prevent fires from occurring in residence halls. The

added benefits of the fire safety program would be enhanced communication and

coordination between California State University, Fresno and the Fresno Fire

Department.

The literature review provided strong evidence that fires in American college

dormitories occur daily, sometimes with fatal results. Von Dietsch (1997) researched

dormitory fires that occurred between 1990 and 1994. On average, there were 1,437 fires

in dormitories each year. Thirty percent were incendiary or suspicious in nature, while

cooking and smoking caused 16 and 11 percent of these fires respectively. Rohr (NFPA

2001) studied fires during the period of 1994 to 1998 and found similar results to those of

Von Dietsch with totals averaging up to 1,600 fires in dormitories each year.

Rohr further studied the propagation variables of student housing facilities, as did

Bryan (1997). Trash paper and cooking materials were the leading forms of materials

first ignited in these residences. The case study of Providence College identified

combustible decorative paper to contribute to the loss of life. Such evidence suggests the

need to maintain adequate housekeeping and enforce fire safety guidelines regarding

decorative paper and cooking in residence halls.

The student housing fires in the University of North Carolina (NFPA, 1996), and

Franklin, Massachusetts (NFPA, 1995) were studied. The following common factors

significantly contributed to the loss of life in these events:

  • The presence of combustible interior finish materials

  • The presence of an open stairway

  • The lack of fire detection and alarm systems

  • The lack of automatic sprinkler systems

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