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Georgia State Fire Safety Carnival demonstrates the breath of a fire under ordinary circumstances

Published: Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 15:10


A mock-dormitory set up by Dobbins Air Reserve Base Fire Department was set on fire in the middle of Gilmer Street. The demonstration was part of GSU’s Fire Safety Carnival, an event to observe fire safety week.

It takes 25 seconds for a fire to start. It takes six minutes for it to engulf a room the size of a dorm.

And the fire department's average response time is four to six minutes. This was the message Dobbins Air Reserve Base Fire Department gave to students and onlookers at Georgia State first Fire Safety Carnival on Sep. 27. The event featured a variety of activities to teach students more about fire safety in on-campus and off-campus living.

One particular exhibition involved setting a mock dormitory on fire. "We wanted to show how fast a room can burn under ordinary conditions," explained Mike Hodgson, assistant chief of Dobbins Air Reserve Base Fire Department. "As soon as you hear that alarm, you need to evacuate immediately."

The demonstration took place on Gilmer Street, between Courtland Avenue and Edgewood Avenue. The 8-by-12 dorm, encased in a large wooden crate, had the bare minimums found in such a room: a mattress and box spring; a desk and chair; a computer monitor and a TV. They lit the fire with a piece of paper and a flame. Within 90 seconds, the young flame doubles in size, and the room temperature increase to 100 degrees.

At three and half minutes, the fire took over the corner of the room. At five minutes, the crowd backed away from the increasing heat exuded from the fire, swallowing at least three-quarters of the room. Seconds later, the TV exploded. Six minutes in, the room is ravaged by the raging inferno.

A minute later, the firefighters moved in to douse the flames. After the thick grey smoke cleared, the audience gasped in shock at the charred room. The computer and TV were incinerated and only the springs remained on the mattress. "I didn't think the fire would spread that fast," marveled pre-med student Danielle Reid. "Wow." Students living on campus are advised to call the Georgia State University Police in case of a fire. According to the GSUPD's annual fire safety report, damages from dormitory fires from 2008 to 2010 totaled over $42,000.

"For a lot of college students, this is their first time away from home," said Hodgson. "Nobody has taught them much about fire safety, so they need to heed all the precaution to keep themselves safe."

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