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Safety Fair with Side-by-Side Burn/Sprinkler Demonstration 9-27-13

As a part of the national campaign for campus fire safety and emergency preparedness, the University of Pennsylvania’s Division of Public Safety and the Philadelphia Fire Department will hold the Campus Fire Safety and Emergency Preparedness Day, Friday, September 27th from 10am to 12:30pm.

As a part of this annual event, representatives from DPS’s Fire and Emergency Services and the Philadelphia Fire Department are stationed at various intersections across campus to distribute literature and answer commonly asked questions like how often to change the batteries in the smoke detector and what to do in the event of a fire.

In addition, the fire department sets up its Fire Safety Trailer on Hamilton Field, East of 40th Street between Locust Walk and Walnut Street, for tours by students, faculty, staff and visitors.  It is designed to promote home fire safety awareness.

But something a little different is happening this year.  

With the help of the Fire and Emergency Services team, under close supervision from the Philadelphia Fire Department, the Division of Public Safety is planning to construct two dorm rooms in the middle of Hamilton Field –to purposely set them on fire.  One dorm room will have sprinklers, while the other will not.

In this live side-by-side demonstration of the effectiveness of sprinklers, firefighters hope to show the public just how quick a fire can move in an environment without sprinklers.

Gene Janda, Chief of Fire and Emergency Services, describes the event, “Side-by-side burns are simulations of actual dormitory room fires.  One fire shows the quick spread of fire in a room unprotected by sprinklers.  The second fire shows how sprinklers control fire in its incipient stage of growth.     The purpose of this demonstration is to highlight the huge contrast between a room with sprinklers versus a room without sprinklers when a fire ignites; sprinklers literally could mean the difference between life and death or serious injury. 

Chief Janda continued, “Fire sprinkler and detection systems are wise investments; they save lives; they conserve property; they prevent tragic endings to college careers.”    

The annual Campus Fire Safety and Emergency Preparedness Awareness Day will conclude with a press conference at noon on Hamilton Field, featuring Lloyd Ayers, fire commissioner of the City of Philadelphia and Maureen S. Rush, vice president for Public Safety at Penn. The conference will be immediately followed by the annual test of the University’s emergency notification system, UPennAlert.

 “A University-wide effort was undertaken with the full support of the Board of Trustees, the President, the Provost and the Executive Vice President to ensure the safety of students in housing.  Over 31 million dollars has been invested to fully sprinkler all College Houses, Fraternities and Sororities on campus. This extra precaution is priceless in the face of a quick-burning fire in a residence hall.” Vice President for Public Safety, Maureen S. Rush explains. 

Additional information about emergency preparedness is available on our website: