Things heated up on campus Tuesday, Oct. 22 as the UNC Charlotte Environmental Health and Safety Organization, UNC Charlotte’s Fire and Safety Technologist Association, Sigma Tau Gamma, Charlotte Fire Prevention and Wayne Sprinklers came together for the second ever fire prevention demonstration.
Started in 2010 by the UNC Charlotte Environmental Health and Safety Organization, the event was created, “For students to see how important fire safety is and how important it is for them to evacuate during a drill,” said Kyunda McKnight, a fire safety specialist of the UNC Charlotte Environmental Health and Safety Organization.
This year, it was Grant Thomas’s idea to hold the event. Thomas is a brother of Sigma Tau Gamma as well as a member of F.A.S.T.
“Each year the fraternity has to do one educational event and I just wanted to do something big that’s not normally done,” said Thomas.
To kick off the demonstration, Charlotte Fire Department’s Deputy Fire Marshall Jonathan Leonard gave a brief speech.
“What we hope to demonstrate today is the importance of residential sprinkler systems. We have two identically built mock-ups of dorm rooms. The one on this side is protected by a residential sprinkler system and the one on this side is not. We’re gonna light them both at the same time. What we’re trying to demonstrate is how quickly a fire spreads and heat builds up,” began Leonard.
He went on to talk about how fire safety is more important than ever due to the rising danger of fires.
“One of the things that’s happened within the last 15-20 years is we’ve changed the things we put inside our homes and inside our dorm rooms. Everything we have now is highly combustible. When exposed to heat, it off-gasses a lot faster. The result is where flashover used to occur at approximately 20 minutes is now occurring at four and a half minutes. So today with the open air you’re probably going to see flashover in the one on this side at about the six minute mark,” said Leonard in his speech.
Leonard concluded his speech by expressing the importance of sprinkler systems in the case of a fire.
“When you go home away from your dorms and you live in a two-story house and you have smoke detectors upstairs and downstairs, it typically takes a smoke detector a minute and a half to activate. So when you have a room and contact fire, the sprinklers will actually activate prior to some of the smoke detectors in the house and gives you that opportunity to get out,” said Leonard.
Following his speech, the mock-up dorms were lit and the fire began spreading rapidly throughout the structures. Sure enough, the sprinkler-ready structure was extinguished within 33 seconds, while the adjoining mock-up dorm had to be put out with the help of Charlotte Fire Department’s Ladder 27 after being engulfed in flames.
It was F.I.R.E. and the brothers of Sigma Tau Gamma who helped set up the structures. The materials inside of each mock-up dorm were provided through campus surplus. Austin Edwards, president of F.I.R.E., estimated that the supplies cost them about 500 dollars.
The Wayne Sprinkler representative who set up the sprinkler system for the mock-up dorm was Ryan Brewer. Brewer is a graduate of UNC Charlotte as well as a graduate of the F.I.R.E. Association.
For any further information about the event or for anything fire safety related, contact Kyunda McKnight at 704-687-1111.