MU’s Speakers Circle heated up Wednesday afternoon, as usual. But it wasn’t the kind of heat that usually happens when words and opinions are flung among students and presenters. Wednesday, there was literally a fire in the middle of Speakers Circle as firefighters demonstrated how fire would spread in a dorm room.
A replica of a dorm room was constructed and, in it, firefighters lit a small fire. The dorm, though quite small, was very realistic with three walls- one with a window; a bed with sheets, a comforter and blankets; clothes and shoes on the floor; a small nightstand with a lamp; a desk complete with a laptop and USB keyboard; and an office chair. Posters hung on the walls and a soda can as well as a thermos sat on the desk. It was as real as it gets, for a single suite.
It took the flames only fifteen seconds to trigger the smoke detector in the dorm. Flames rose to the foot of the bed and grew still higher, licking the ceiling. In less than a minute, the flames had damaged everything in the room.
The flames created an intense heat, causing the large crowd to take a few steps back from the scene. After 95 seconds, firefighters stifled the flames with a standard fire hose.
Some ash blew up into the air and fell on the crowd after the fire was doused.
MU freshman Hannah Scavdal thought the presentation was impressive. “It was scary. My brother’s a firefighter, but I had no idea that it only took a minute and a half for the entire room to be in flames.”
Other activites at Fire Factor included an obstacle course, a ride in a fire truck lift and fire extinguisher training.
David Dorth, a safety representative for MU’s Environmental Health and Safety Department gave fire extinguisher training, which took about two minutes per person. People were allowed to extinguish a small fire in a controlled device that looked similar to a small grill. Dorth taught the P.A.S.S. (pull, aim, squeeze and sweep) method of putting out fires. Aiming at the base of the flame is one of the keys to putting out a fire, according to Dorth.
Rachel Moten, a senior agriculture journalism major at MU, learned how to put out a fire. She said every year, she sees the Fire Factor event but this year she decided to give it a shot.
“It was worth the try and worth the experience so I can say now I know how to put out a fire with a fire extinguisher.”