WLU burn room a success with turnout of over 3000 students

On September 6, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management (SHERM) and the Waterloo Fire Department hosted a burn room demonstration. The demonstration was held during Laurier’s Orientation Week in front of a crowd of 3000 students.

The room was set up to mirror a typical residence dorm room and was used to show how quickly a fire could expand in the space. A similar demonstration was done last year during Fire Prevention Week held at Laurier.

John Percy, public education officer for the City of Waterloo Fire Rescue Services, stressed the importance of visual cues when spreading awareness.

“It’s an opportunity to…meet as many first-years as we can and to get that message across. But more importantly to say here’s a visual indication of the importance of how quickly a room will burn, importance of a working smoke alarm and having a home fire escape plan,” said Percy.

Having organized the burn room before, both SHERM and the fire department were able to plan more precisely and better predict the exact outcome of the demonstration.

“You know practice makes perfect: the prep time, what had to be done, how the fire was going to grow, how quickly. We had a good comfort level, we knew how it was going to go,” said Percy.

The demonstration also used the cooking trailer to show the risks associated with leaving an unattended pot on the stove, which is the leading cause of fire, according to Percy.

“If you’re cooking, you need to stay in the kitchen. If you have a fire, take an oven mitt and just slide a lid over it. Take away the oxygen and put out the fire, that’s the proper way to put a fire out…As human beings, we think we put water on fire. If you do that with grease it will actually really explode,” said Percy.

“If you’re going to be under any influences of drinking or drugs please do not cook. Especially if you come from the bars, after an evening. Because people do get hungry, we don’t want people cooking at that point because they could fall asleep or forget about it.”

Philip Teskey, emergency management and fire safety officer for SHERM at Laurier, stressed the importance of fire safety on and off campus.

“Really, we want them to learn those key messages we put across, our fire alarm procedures, if you’re off campus to make sure that you have working smoking alarms,” said Teskey.

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