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Monday, September 25, 2023


Officials launch campus fire safety program

There are multiple fire exits in each building, like the UC Satellite back exit, that students are encouraged to become familiar with. | Hiba Adi/The Daily Cougar

From now until October, Bob Bowden, the UHDPS Fire Marshal, is working to increase the knowledge of fire safety and exit strategies within UH.

This campaign is a part of ‘Have An Exit Strategy’, a statewide program to inform the public about the importance of knowing where exits are located in case of an emergency.

“The State of Texas Fire Marshal’s Office HAES program was developed from a study of the Rhode Island Night Club Fire that occurred in 2003. The program began as a pilot project at the University of Texas in 2006 to provide incoming freshman with a packet of fire and life safety information,” Bowden said. “The program was expanded this year due to a $565,500 FEMA grant to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.”

The program has been at UH since the 2007-2008 academic year. Promotion on campus have included posters, button pins, magnets, brochures, informative CDs and even student groups such as the Student Government Association, Staff Council, Cougar First Impressions, and more have all worked together to spread the word.

The Cougar First Impression tables gave out HAES promotional items to students during the first two days of class in August.

While people usually use the exit staircases during a fire, those with a disability may not be able to do the same, and the program considered this factor for their campaign.

“If a fire develops to a point that a student in a wheelchair needs to be relocated, a move to a stairwell may be in order,” Bowden said. “The stairwells are typically a minimum of a one hour fire separation and in some cases a 2 hour separation. In addition a number of buildings have additional areas of refuge available.”

Sometimes a fire alarm may be confused with an ambulance, police siren or a harmless bell sound. But Bowden said there is ways for people to know difference because fire alarms have a unique sound.

“Fire alarms have a distinct sound that is entirely different from simple bells and an ambulance siren,” Bowden said. “In addition, a large portion of the buildings on campus now are equipped with voice systems which when activated produces a voice message to begin evacuation followed by the more typical alarm sounds.”

Bowden encouraged people to take higher precautions in a case of a serious emergency.

“911 should be called first in any true fire emergency,” Bowden said. “The UHDPS Dispatch contact number is 713-743-3333 and the UHDPS Fire Marshal’s Office contact number is 713-743-1635.”

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