In conjunction with National Fire Prevention week, firefighter Ian Yaffe '09 wants Bowdoin students to be smarter about fires.
National Fire Prevention Week, which concludes Saturday, was held following the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service. Yaffe, who attended the event, said he was particularly struck by the death of firefighter Kevin Apuzzio, who was a senior at Rutgers University at the time of his death.
"It struck home because he's a couple of months younger than me," Yaffe said.
"In 2007 alone over 100 firefighters have given the ultimate sacrifice," said Yaffe. "One of the ways to decrease this number is to prevent fires and other emergencies in the first place."
Although fires are a rare occurence at Bowdoin, Yaffe said that dorm rooms are full of hazards. Overloading outlets, for example, can cause electrical fires, as can running extension cords underneath a rug.
"The dorms themselves are very safe and very up to standard," Yaffe said. "I believe all residential houses and rooms here have a sprinkler." However, he stressed that seemingly insignificant things like extension cords can still start a fire.
Students received an e-mail from Director of Residential Life Kim Pacelli on Thursday stressing the importance of compliance with College fire safety procedures.
Though fires from appliances can be prevented with students' vigilance, students still need to have an escape plan in case a fire does occur.
This year, Fire Prevention Week's theme was "Practice Your Escape Plan," a measure that can save both residents and firefighters' lives. Yaffe said that although most people at Bowdoin would generally know what to do in the event of a fire, there are some issues that still need to be addressed.
"I don't know if everyone necessarily has a back-up escape plan," he said. "You are supposed to always have at least two exits that you can use."
In addition, Yaffe said that students may become complacent about fire safety, especially if there have been many false alarms in their building. By being conscientious about preventing fires and responding to alarms, however, students can decrease the risk for themselves and firefighters.
"The biggest tool that Bowdoin has is the individual people being more proactive and noticing things," said Yaffe. "In doing that, you decrease the exposure that firefighters may have...and you can decrease the number of line-of-duty deaths we see every year."
Though firefighters will never fail to respond to a fire, said Yaffe, it does not mean that people should consider their prevention casually.
"Obviously, the fire department is always going to be there," he said. If you call 911, the fire department is going to respond, hands down, 100 percent of the time."
However, he added, "Decreasing the number of fires that firefighters have to respond to decreases the risk by an obvious amount."