• 86°

Fire threat is all too real

If Dr. Jimmy Jenkins grew as indignant about violations of the fire code on the Livingstone College campus as he did about the city manager’s public discussion of them, the college would not have racked up more than 1,000 violations over the past four years.
Let’s be clear. All but eight of the college’s violations were addressed as of last Tuesday, when City Manager Doug Paris dramatically presented City Council a box full of files concerning code violations at the college. Livingstone has worked on the problem. But the college owes the city some $63,000 in fines that piled up as violation after violation went unaddressed for some time.
Considering how serious the consequences of ignoring the fire code could be, Jenkins should be chagrined for the public and his board of trustees to know how often the campus was found in violation. Fines are nothing compared to the tragedy a dorm fire can bring.
Just ask the people who were on the Catawba College campus in October 2001, when a student died in a dorm fire. Students had disarmed fire alarms that had gone off twice that evening. So when a fire of undetermined origin started near student Andrew Grooms’ room, no alarm went off. Grooms became trapped and suffered fatal burns. It was a traumatic experience all around — for the student’s family, the college and the community at large. The Groomses sued the college; Catawba settled out of court.
Fires on college campuses are not rare events. From 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 3,810 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Each year, campus fires caused an annual average of two civilian deaths, 30 civilian fire injuries and $9.4 million in direct property damage.
Just in the past month, there have been fires at the University of Nebraska, Howard University, Marist College, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and several other college sorority houses and off-campus apartment — none fatal, fortunately.
Some people are calling for the city to waive Livingstone’s fines, since they’ve accumulated to such a high level. If the city drops its primary enforcement tool, though, what leverage will it have to enforce the fire code at Livingstone going forward? Student safety should be paramount. If fire brought tragedy upon the college as the result of fire code violations, fingers of blame would surely point to the city for poor enforcement as well as to the college for lax adherence. Let’s hope that never happens.

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

Blotter: July 29

Local

Downtown residents, business owners say noisy construction is A-OK, sign of progress to come

Business

County unemployment rises in June, positive job growth seen in leisure and hospitality sector

Local

NC poet laureate will speak during historical marker celebration, talks about life, race

Local

Spencer moves back public hearing on longer, staggered terms

Education

High school fire academy lets seniors jump start a service career

News

Country Club of Salisbury unveils renovated clubhouse, plots additional upgrades

David Freeze

David Freeze: Biggest adventure day coming next

Local

South Ellis Street in for improvements because of $100,000 grant for BlockWork

Local

Little League softball: Rowan drops regional final, but moves on

Education

Catawba students, grads make it out to the ballpark for summer of baseball

Education

Education briefs: RSS Teacher of the Year gets Phillip J. Kirk Scholarship

News

North Carolina requiring state health workers to get vaccine

Nation/World

Infrastructure deal: Senate suddenly acts to take up bill

News

State briefs: North Carolina woman charged after 4-year-old shoots himself

Coronavirus

Rowan County among communities where CDC recommends masks indoors

Crime

Blotter: Shooters mistakenly fire bullets into woman’s West Kerr Street house

Local

Light installation could delay Bell Tower Green opening, but formal event still set for Sept. 10

Kannapolis

Kannapolis restroom listed among top 10 in the country, vying for top spot

Business

Mixed-use development planned near Atrium Health Ballpark

Local

Little League softball: Rowan plays for regional championship, qualifies for World Series

Nation/World

CDC changes course on indoor masks in some parts of the US

Nation/World

Racism of rioters takes center stage in Jan. 6 hearing

News

State briefs: Woman accused of taking baby to break-in