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Imagine waking up to your bedroom filling with smoke and leaping through an upstairs window to escape. Within minutes, you are standing outside your college residence, watching as the home you shared with your closest friends is engulfed in flames.

This was the grim reality for four Marist College senior girls, who on Jan. 21 lost two female roommates and another male friend in the blaze according to a report by ABC News.

The tragic loss of young, soon-to-be graduates is something that students at Fairfield U can sympathize with.  The frightening part of the situation is that an accidental fire could happen to anyone.

Senior Marist student Courtney Lynch remarked, “The fire really shook my grade.  Losing friends in a fire is not something that anyone planned for in the first few days of our last semester and the loss is felt throughout the college community. … It’s such a reality check; this could have happened to any of us.”

By taking the proper precautions and by following state and University regulations,  you and your roommates can vastly decrease the chances that something like this could happen to you.  Whether you live in the dorms, suites, townhouses, apartments or at the beach there are several easy steps to prevent fires like the one that occurred at Marist.

Fairfield Fire Prevention

Remember fire drills in the dorms?  Standing on the lawn after just waking up from a nap, or huddled with your friends while still in a bathrobe may have seemed wildly inconvenient at the time, but it was for your own good.  The University is obligated to practice these drills and if a real fire ever occurred, students and employees would know how to react.

Additionally, Fairfield forbids the use of the certain fire hazard items in any University housing which are in place to protect and should not be ignored.

Although having a soothing candle in your room or one to ward off food odors may be desirable, the hazards of an open flame far outweigh the benefits.

Shelton volunteer firefighter Tom McNeil cited that the misuse of everyday items especially matches, candles and cigarettes start the most accidental blazes.

McNeil’s advice is to use flame-less candles, which give off the same scent as a burning one and to smoke cigarettes a significant distance away from your residence. (Fairfield requires 30 feet.)

Additionally, McNeil stresses that working smoke detectors can “make or break who survives in a fire.” This is something that on-campus students do not have to worry about, as Fairfield monitors smoke detectors.

Fairfield provides several fire extinguishers behind glass on each dorm or suite floor and individual ones in all campus housing with kitchens.

Not taking these precautions is a risk that some students choose to take, but it is important to consider events such as the Marist fire.

Off-Campus Fire Safety

Because Marist students impacted by the Jan. 21 blaze were off-campus residents, they might not have had the resources that student in campus funded housing have.  However, the same fire safety rules should be applied to off-campus boarders.

Like the accommodations available to Marist students, many Fairfield beach houses are older homes, with the majority of the structure made out of wood.  Thus, even a small blaze could become quickly destructive or even fatal.

By avoiding flames from candles, lighting a fire in an old, rarely used fireplace, gas stoves and ovens left on and the overcrowding of electrical sockets, chances of an accidental fire are greatly decreased.

Similar to policies on campus, those living at the beach should still have fire extinguishers and working smoke detectors, which are provided by landlords.

Another notable hazard is the overcrowding of beach homes, exceeding the number of occupants permitted by a lease and ultimately violating fire safety rules for the purpose of saving money and living with friends.

According to a report by the Gothamist, the Marist girls’ landlord allowed six females to sign the lease, where by city law, only five unrelated people are permitted to rent that residential area, a fact that might warrant legal action later in the fire investigation.

For juniors signing beach leases after the lottery deciding which seniors will be permitted to live at the beach on Wednesday and for seniors already violating leases, this is something to really consider.

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