Fire simulation in Baldwin tests preparedness



By Nini Edwards

Baldwin Hall filled with smoke Tuesday night, as students rushed out of the building. Fire alarms went off and sirens sounded from fire trucks that approached the scene.

Lexington fire and UK units conducted a planned fire exercise in order to educate students on fire safety and test the university’s emergency response procedure.

“I was on third floor when the alarms went off,” said Lindsay Griggs, an engineering freshman. “I don’t know what to do during a fire, so I just walked out.” Griggs had received an email before the mock fire informing her that there would be a drill, but she was unaware at the time.

“We are treating this as a real fire,” Jason Ellis, the assistant fire marshal for UK, shouted to the Baldwin residents. The fire department was also unaware of when and where the drill was going to be, in order to test its preparedness.

“This is practice for the fire department as well as the students,” Ellis said. “We do what we have to do to protect our students.”

Firefighters came to the aid of the 11 actors who stumbled out of the building, coughing with fake smoke stains and burns covering their bodies. A firefighter even performed CPR on a dummy body.

“They make it seem so real,” said Destiny Harris, a pre-dentistry freshman. She said she knows how to “stop, drop and roll,” but she too just walked out of the building when the alarms went off.

Although this was a practice fire, firefighters still had to go into the building and escort non-actors out of the fake-smoke-filled building who ignored the alarms.

“Through this complete chaos, everybody did an outstanding job,” said Greg Williamson, the fire marshal for UK.

Williamson said he would like to see this mock fire happen every year to educate incoming students. He has been fire marshal for four years, at UK and this is the first fire exercise he said he has performed at the university.

Williamson said there is a lot that goes into creating a drill.

“We have about 30 firemen here tonight,” he said. Preparing for the drill involved multiple groups, including Lexington Fire Department and UK groups such as UK Police, Housing and Residence Life.

“Every experience is different when we are putting out a fire. Always expect the unexpected,” Ellis said.

Before he worked for UK, Ellis said that a fire drill was conducted on campus where 51 out of 55 students walked through the heavy smoke instead of crawling.

Ellis’ goal is to spread the knowledge of fire safety to as many college students as possible.