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PC Zach Garmoe

Playing with fire: when fun and safety coincide

With the annual Homecoming Week bonfire happening later that night, the Red Cross Club hosted a fire safety week on campus.

Chenoa Wilson, junior biology major, helped put the event together. “Fire safety is happening all this week, so yesterday we were selling fire-aid kits in the breezeway and we’re doing ‘make-your-own’ kits today,” she said. Kits were sold at $1.50 for small and $3.00 for large.

“We’re supposed to have a fire truck here, and they were here Monday, but they’re on call right now,” said Wilson. “They’re with the Arbutus Fire Department, and are usually really cooperative with our events.”

Students were able to practice using a fire extinguisher, and were given tips on fire safety by professionals. “It’s actually a really good skill to have, and it was intimidating at first but the guys are really helpful and it was fun,” said Wilson. Participants were also given home fire escape plans to graph out their own fire escape routes at home.

Josh VanHouten, environmental manager with Environmental Safety and Health Services on campus, was one of the professionals handling the practice fires and extinguishers. “The Red Cross Club here is always setting up events and this year was fire prevention week. Next year we plan on about three times the size and participation as this year’s event,” said VanHouten. “We hope to actually smoke out a building and create a real-life fire scenario for students to practice escaping. Just a lot more events in the making for next year.”

Paul Harless, another environmental manager with Environmental Safety and Health Services, reiterated how important fire safety is on campus. “We do fire extinguisher training for lots of groups on campus, so basically anyone who wants or needs these lessons or training we can do,” said Harless. “The Red Cross club just definitely asks for our assistance in these types of events, so here we are.”

As the sun went down and giant wood pallets went up, it was time to put newly learned fire safety skills to work at the annual Homecoming Week bonfire. Students and friends gathered on Erickson Field for the (seb) event.

At dusk, the pile of pallets was set aflame and students cheered on the growing fire. “The fire is so big, all of campus just glows,” said Guillermo Pérez, a freshman studying psychology and theatre. “There’s a lot of people so it’s a really nice gathering.”

While students enjoyed the atmosphere and spectacles of the night, the event died out quicker than expected. “It was disappointing they used pallets, because the fire went down really fast,” said Pérez. “It would’ve been so much better if the fire lasted longer as big as it was.” Pérez and friends still agreed the event was successful, and would enjoy more events like this on campus.

These fiery Red Cross Club and (seb) events were both enjoyable and helpful to students. With a growing awareness of fire safety on campus, fun events like the annual bonfire become an even better time. As Pérez put it simply, “It’s lit.”