UH meets fire code standards

Although the UH Department of Public Safety will have to find the funding to fix the remaining fire code violations, UH has made major improvements since the last Texas State Fire Marshal’s fire inspection in 2003, Joseph Tremont, UH fire marshal’s office safety specialist, said.

The inspection, which started on Sept. 17, took only three days instead of the anticipated week because the University did so well, he said.

"(The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office) was able to get even more of the buildings (on campus) off the inspection report this year. We were right on target where we thought we would be. The (code violation) list is getting dwindled down," Tremont said.

The inspection was to ensure past code violations were corrected and to check additional areas throughout campus.

"Reinspection reinforces the safety of buildings," Tremont said. "We look forward to the Texas State Fire Marshal’s visit, because their inspectors provide a fresh set of eyes. We want the safest possible conditions for the UH campus."

Some major code violations, such as not having the correct numbers of fire alarms or sprinkler systems on campus, will take time to correct because of the expense, Tremont said.

FMO gives some allowance though because it realizes purchasing these items are outside of UHDPS’s budget, he said. As much time as needed is given to the department until enough funds are available, and then the problems should be rectified immediately.

As an example, Tremont said that the fire alarm systems – like the one installed since the last inspection – in the Science and Research 2 building ranged between $325,000 to $350,000.

Since the last state inspection, several code violations have been addressed and corrected, such as the addition of new fire alarm systems in the Science and Research 2 Building and the development of firmer policies for the use of extension cords, space heaters and candles in dormitories and buildings.

"Things like propping open (stairwell and corridor) doors and extension cord use were corrected. (FMO) is really proud of everyone working to fix these code violations," Tremont said of other changes made.

FMO is also part of a statewide campaign called "Have an Exit Strategy" to help better inform UH students, faculty and staff about fire safety, Tremont said. The campaign began after 100 people died during nightclub fire in 2003 because the patrons did not know where additional fire exits were located.

"(The campaign) has helped train over 1,000 students already. I held a class last night at Cougar Place for around 35 students about fire safety and proper exit strategies. I’m always open to giving more presentations," Tremont said.

To set up a possible fire safety presentation and learn more about "Have an Exit Strategy," call FMO at (713) 743-1635.

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