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Campus Life

Safety First: BU Launches Fire Education Campaign

ResLife staff to meet today

“We are going to go beyond routine testing and inspection of our fire and life safety systems,” says Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore.

Boston University’s new fire prevention and education initiative, prompted by two fatal off-campus fires in three weeks, kicks off today with a special mandatory meeting of all Residence Life staff, including resident assistants. 

Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore is also planning a series of discussions about personal safety with the Residence Hall Associations, to begin on Tuesday, March 27, and a forum with the Environmental Health and Safety Office and the Boston University Police Department.

“We need to make sure students have the knowledge they need to live safely,” Elmore says.

The safety and education campaign includes an immediate special inspection of the fire systems in all University buildings, in addition to today’s meeting. The meeting will cover basic fire safety, update Residence Life staff on fire safety equipment and standards in the residence halls, and prepare resident assistants for mandatory meetings with their students, which each RA must do by Monday, April 2. 

While all Residence Life staff receive fire safety instruction at their regular August training, Residence Life director David Zamojski says that the upcoming sessions will both reinforce emergency procedures and offer students a chance to discuss other safety issues that can affect BU students.

“We’re going to continue to raise awareness about the responsibility that each of us has to protect ourselves and our community,” Zamojski says. “We need to talk about some of the risks associated with urban life.”

Special initiatives are also planned for students living off campus. These include a series of public discussions with fire officials in Brookline and Boston and distribution of a standard list of safety tips to apartment buildings in surrounding neighborhoods. University officials are also preparing information packets for this summer’s first-year orientation sessions to educate incoming students and their parents.

The newly enhanced fire safety campaign follows two deadly fires at off-campus apartments near the University. A February 24 fire at 21 Aberdeen St., believed to have started from a candle left burning while students slept, caused the deaths of Rhiannon McCuish (CAS’08) and Stefan Adelipour (SMG’07) and seriously injured Steven Boursiquot (CGS’05, CAS’07). The March 16 blaze at 49 St. Mary’s St., Brookline, killed Derek Crowl, a 19-year-old student from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, who was visiting friends. Brookline fire officials say they suspect it started from embers in a charcoal grill left unattended on the back porch of the third-floor apartment.

Elmore says the probable causes of the fires have emphasized the need to better educate BU students about safety procedures in their own homes.

“We are going to go beyond routine testing and inspection of our fire and life safety systems,” he says. “We need to take an aggressive approach and analyze the safety of all of the members of the BU community — especially our students.”

Jessica Ullian can be reached at jullian@bu.edu.