Fire events promote campus safety throughout September

By Drew Teague

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The UK Police Department and UK Fire Department are joining together to inform students of campus safety and fire safety in a way that will burn down the house — literally.

In its eighth year, National Campus Fire Safety Month is set up to make students aware of the hazards and inform them of ways to stay safe, UK Fire Marshal Greg Williamson said.

This year, the fire department will be giving out about 4,000 T-shirts, Williamson said.

“As always we are going to be having fire extinguisher training. The first department will be there, and we’ll have the smoke tents at every event,” Williamson said. “We’ll be doing our burns at two of the three sites that we are going to be at.”

The fire extinguisher training is an electronic simulation that acts just like a real-fire would, and students can practice putting the fire out.

“It reacts just like a real fire would,” Williamson said. “If you do it right, you get it out. If you don’t do it right, it keeps growing until the point where you can’t put it out.”

The smoke tents will allow students to see and feel what it is like to be in a smoke-filled room and learn how to react to that situation, Williamson said.

The three events will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday by the Blanding/Kirwan Complex on South Campus, from 8:30 a.m. to noon Sept. 19 in front of the Main Building, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 26 in the Roselle Hall courtyard on North Campus.

“We’ll be having, at the second event on the 19th, the president to light the Mobile Dorm Burn Unit,” Williamson said.

The Mobile Dorm Burn Unit is a container with real dorm furniture that is set on fire to show students how quickly a room can be consumed in fire and how students should take the fire alarms seriously, UK Fire Marshal Assistant Jason Ellis said.

Williamson and Ellis both stressed that it takes a dorm room an average of two minutes to be consumed by fire, and students should be out of their buildings within two minutes of the alarm sounding, especially because the fire departments are four to five minutes out.

UKPD’s Division of Crisis Management and Preparedness is also using September to promote National Campus Safety Awareness Month.

Capt. Tom Matlock, director of Division of Crisis Management and Preparedness, is using the month to make sure people are aware of how to stay safe on campus.

“Campus safety is our Number 1 priority,” Matlock said. “Our mission is to provide a safe and secure campus environment for faculty, staff, visitors and students. To have a month dedicated to it, it’s just to try to bring awareness up through the campus.”

UKPD will be at the events put on by the UK Fire Marshal and helping to ensure students know about UKPD’s programs, such as UK Alert, Citizens Police Academy, the S.T.A.R.R. program and the Adopt-A-Cop program.

Matlock said he wants students to participate in getting UK Alerts sent to their cellphones via a text message.

“If you want to talk about what someone can do to help themselves be aware in an immediate crisis situation, I’d basically put UK Alert (at the top),” Matlock said.

“Right now UK Alert has drastically increased (in usage) from previous years. We’ve got about 25 percent of individuals who have added a cellphone to their account. We would like to see that much higher. We’d like to see it in the 80 to 90 percentile range.”

Read more about UK Alert at

Matlock said anyone interested can look at the Annual Campus Safety Report on the UKPD website to see statistics relating to campus safety.

According to a UKPD news release, students and other adults can register for UKPD’s annual Citizens Police Academy, an eight-week course that intends to help people in “understanding law enforcement and university policy.”

Classes start on Sept. 18 and are every Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. For more information, visit