November 25, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 48  

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Students and fire safety

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

The horrendous blaze that swept through a student residence in Moscow this weekend serves as a grave reminder of the importance of students’ fire safety practices.

“Our [residence] buildings are all well-maintained and all meet the fire code and even exceed the fire code,” said VP-housing and ancillary services Susan Grindrod, noting the lack of “fire safety culture” that caused the Russian tragedy.

Campus fire safety is ensured by several different mechanisms, including education, Grindrod said. “[It’s] one of the first things we do in September, on the Labour Day Monday; all the students are asked to come to Alumni Hall. It’s a welcome, but it’s also about safety — and fire safety’s a big part of that.”

Off-campus students are also targeted by Western’s fire prevention education program. “We try [to] get out as much information as we can about fire safety,” said off-campus housing liaison officer Glenn Matthews, citing reminders published in newsletters sent out six times a year and his current work on a newsletter for landlords who list with Western on fire prevention.

“Properties aren’t necessarily inspected unless the resident requests it,” Matthews said. “We generally refer them to the city fire prevention office.”

Steve Guay, chief fire prevention officer with the London Fire Department, said his office receives very few complaints.

“We do most [inspections] on a complaint or request [basis] and a lot of them in August and September, when students are moving in,” Guay said, noting that although the department does not have the manpower to do door-to-door safety checks, they do follow up on any hazards they come across.

“The university can do all it can to keep the buildings safe, but it takes the effort of everyone to keep it safe,” Grindrod reinforced. “We take fire safety very seriously — it’s zero tolerance when [there is] a fire safety concern.”



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