December 2 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 52  

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Off-campus housing fire hazard?

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff
Matt Prince/Gazette
THE GAZETTE’S PIPES: THEY’RE EVEN OLDER THAN OUR COMPUTERS. Many Western students have been horrified by a sight similar to this one.

While on-campus residences are safe from fire-wielding aliens who want nothing more than to burn down residences and devour roasted student meat, off-campus student housing could be having a roast served up with student steak, especially considering there is no law for fire inspections in London to protect the fair students of Western from vicious dragon attacks.

“There’s no law in the city of London requiring frequent fire inspections,” said John Kaiser, a concerned Londoner who survived a fire several years ago while living in Montreal.

According to Kaiser, there are thousands of students who live off campus in houses and apartments that have not been inspected for years. “The fire marshal has told me there are buildings that have not been inspected since 1988.”

Robert Pertschy, fire prevention inspector with the London Fire Department, confirmed Kaiser’s allegations, pointing to the lack of manpower in London to inspect every residence in the city. “Fire inspections are requested or [are based on] complaints or sometimes even [conducted] on a sporadic basis,” he said.

Pertschy pointed out that buildings over three stories high are subject to frequent fire safety inspection and houses are required to have at least one working smoke detector. Under most circumstances, individuals are responsible for making their own house fire safe, he said, adding all students need is a smoke detector, which is relatively inexpensive.

One issue Pertschy said poses a threat to fire safety in off-campus student housing is students who smoke in their bedrooms and keep their doors closed, meaning a smoke detector would be needed in every bedroom in student houses.

“We have some [complaints]. More often than not I’ll get a maintenance issue relayed to me,” said Glenn Matthews, the off-campus housing liaison officer at Western, adding potential complaints concerning fire safety are usually sent to the city fire inspection office.

According to Matthews, awareness is crucial in maintaining fire safety in off-campus student housing, adding initiatives such as newsletters and other methods to keep the lines of communication open between administration, students and landlords, have been instrumental in offering some degree of fire safety off campus.

—with files from Dan Perry



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