I just read the article “How Safe are You?,” (March 6) by Kent Brockwell, in your paper. I understand how the student body (and everyone else) is concerned about their welfare and safety during such trying times, particularly with recent fire/evacuation tragedies fresh in our memory. Brockwell’s article was factual enough; however, the accompanying photos are quite misleading and frankly sensationalize fire safety at VCU. The first photo, a picture of an empty fire hose container, is not a safety hazard whatsoever. When Oliver Hall was built, the hoses were installed. However, since the building has been fitted with an automatic sprinkler system, the hoses are no longer required. Furthermore, because of their lack of use, the hoses crack and become defective and can be more of a hazard to one who tries to use them. So, in accordance with the state fire marshal, they were removed and are in full compliance with the state’s fire code.
Secondly, there was a picture of an exit sign not functioning properly. This does happen occasionally, much like a light bulb burning out. When our inspectors find any life safety equipment not functioning properly, they immediately report it to physical plant for repair. Feel free to contact us (828-0040) if you notice any equipment not functioning properly.
We appreciate student interest in fire safety and encourage dialog with students whenever there are concerns or questions. Many times students don’t understand our procedures or what the codes require. We would be happy to explain if we were asked. When Brockwell called our office, we tried to answer any and all of his questions as thoroughly as possible. Had he asked us about the fire hoses, or the exit signs, we would have been happy to tell him the facts. The last thing we need is to spread inaccurate rumors that cause panic among students, staff, and faculty. VCU fire safety prides itself and cares deeply in having a safe campus for staff and students to work and enjoy. Please get your facts straight before falsely accusing our department of negligence.
Safety Training Coordinator
Fire and Occupational Safety Section
Office of Environmental Health and Safety