CALDWELL,NJ - According to Mark Guiliano, Caldwell's Fire Official, The Caldwell Fire Department and Caldwell University have something in common. They take fire safety seriously.
Last week, 27 college resident assistant students attended Bergen county fire academy to take a fire safety class in preparation for the upcoming school year. The RAs who live in the dorms are resonsible for assuring that resident students comply with fire safety practices and school regulations while living in the dorms.
“Caldwell University campus accounts for approximately 5-10% of our fire calls annually,” reports Guiliano. " Usually the cause of the alarms in the dorms are smoke from hair dryers, unattended cooking, or someone stuck in an elevator, but both the fire department and the university respond to, and treat every alarm seriously." “We want them to treat every alarm as a real fire”.
With Caldwell University students returning to the campus this week after their summer break, over 600 of whom living in dormitories, there was a prevalent need to instruct the campus Resident Advisors on the values and practices of fire safety.
“Delayed alarms and improper or delayed evacuation of the building can prove deadly,” said Guiliano, as he recalled the tragic fire at Seton Hall University several years ago. “That fire impacted dormitory fire safety practices nationwide”.
During their day at the fire academy, students were briefed on the dangers they might face during a fire and ways to stay safe. A lecture by an academy staff comprised of seasoned firefighters and graphic video of tragic fires was followed by hands on activities such as operating a hose line on an actual fire in the academy burn building.
Bill Ortman, Director of Campus Safety at Caldwell University stated that the safety and security of the students living in the dormitories is a responsibility shared by both university staff and resident students. The RAs play an important role in the partnership to assure a safe living environment.
Funding for the program came courtesy of a Fema fire prevention grant awarded to Montclair State University and made available to Caldwell University through coordination with the Caldwell fire prevention bureau.
Guiliano stated, “When we heard about the funding opportunity we contacted MSU and were able to take advantage of the program at no cost to the University or the Borough of Caldwell. It was a win/win for everyone."