Following a wildfire-filled summer that covered over 336,000 acres of California, the UC Davis Fire Department is doing its part to keep fires from becoming a problem here on campus.
Monday marked the beginning of Fire Prevention Week, a national event sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association, said Kim Stephens, the fire prevention assistant for the UCDFD.
“This year’s [Fire Prevention Week] theme is titled ‘Stay Fire Smart –Don’t Get Burned‘ and is focusing more on general prevention of fires,” she said.
The UCDFD held its version of an open house at its “Day on the Quad” yesterday. Students passing by had the opportunity to participate in a number of fire safety activities and to speak with UC Davis firefighters.
Although only 20 percent of their calls are for fire-related accidents, the UCDFD hopes to prevent some of the most common home fires through education, said student firefighter Brent Marriott.
“The number one cause of fires in the dorms is candles,” said Marriott, a junior mechanical engineering major. “There are also oven fires, kitchen fires and electrical fires. Most of these can be prevented simply by knowing where their fire extinguishers are and how to use them, in addition to the number to call when things get out of hand.“
Marriott noted that the correct way to put out an oven fire is with baking soda – not baking flour.
The “Day on the Quad” originally started four years ago, said Wes Arvin, assistant fire chief for the UCDFD.
“We were trying to think of new ways of reaching out to the student population and this was one of our brainstorms,” he said. “It has been really successful … where better to interact with students than on the quad?”
In addition to getting more information about fire safety, students also practiced using a fire extinguisher, put on fire gear and watched the air-lift helicopter make a landing.
Members of the UC Davis student firefighter program were also available to talk with fellow students. The UC Davis student firefighter program is one of only three in the country and will be recruiting new members next year.
“The 15 students in the program live at the firehouse and go out with us on pretty much all of our calls,” said Arvin, who is also an alumnus of the program. “Many of these students go on to pursue a career in the fire service. We are very fortunate to have this program.“
The program also allows students the opportunity to experience the work of a firefighter without as much of the danger that full-time firefighters endure, Marriott said.
“It’s the greatest job,” he said. “It prepares you to do the job of a firefighter but is a lot less stressful.“
Student firefighters respond to on-campus calls and provide mutual aid for accidents in Yolo County. They also ensure that fire safety appliances like smoke detectors are in working order.
In addition to teaching fire safety, Arvin said the UCDFD also tries to emphasize prevention of any situation that can get out of hand.
“We try to get students to think about the impact of their actions on their roommates and other people in the building,” he said. “We also talk about bicycle safety and drinking responsibly … our department responds to a wide range of cases, including many where students have had too much to drink.“
To find out more about fire prevention week or how the student firefighter program, students can visit fire.ucdavis.edu.
ERICA LEE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. LAUREN STEUSSY contributed to this article.