How many exits do you look for when you enter a building, a restaurant, or your own home? Many people do not take an extra 30 seconds to look left and right for that second or even third exit that can be used in the event of an emergency, no matter where they are. Typically, we exit a building the same way we entered it; and, during a fire or other related emergency that exit may be blocked or gone when you need to get out.
During the week of August 7th, the Office of Fire Safety conducted Smoke-Out training for Housekeeping staff. During these sessions, staff were educated about the importance of knowing multiple exits in the event of a fire-related emergency. Training was conducted in a smoke-filled hallway in Stone Hall, employing the same water-based training smoke used for instructing professional firefighters in low-visibility search and rescue. Each participant learned about the dangers of smoke and how to navigate through this toxic and superheated air. “The smoke was so thick we couldn’t see the hand in front of our faces! Not only did everybody love this training, it opened their eyes to how dangerous fire can be and how it’s the smoke that is the true killer in a fire!” said Assistant Director of Housekeeping Services, Jacqueline Alvarez.
The smoke used during this training was intensified to density and visibility levels similar to those present in a real fire. With the assistance of Fire Safety Specialist John D. Keane, and his eight years of firefighting experience, Housekeeping staff learned to properly navigate a smoke-filled hallway by keeping one hand on a wall and staying as low as possible to avoid thicker and superheated smoke. Participants were also taught basic workplace fire prevention practices, and the redundancies that enhance fire protection in a building, such as smoke or fire doors that protect exit pathways they may need to escape.
The goal of the Smoke-Out training was to ensure that University Housekeeping staff are efficient, professional, and prepared. Through proper education, Fire Safety was able to remind all participants about how much simply taking that extra 30 seconds to look for that second exit can mean the difference between escaping and becoming trapped in a fire.