UCO is prepared for large scale fires

Oklahoma City Fire Department battles the five-alarm fire at The Canton apartment complex in Oklahoma City, Feb. 9, 2022. (The Vista/Manuela Soldi)

The fire that destroyed The Canton apartment complex in Oklahoma City last week has sparked many questions, including how UCO would handle a large-scale fire.

The 2020 annual fire safety report states, “UCO’s facilities and buildings were constructed to meet the existing fire and life safety codes when originally constructed.” The report details the buildings that are equipped with fire alarms and fire suppression sprinklers. Most buildings, but not all, have voice-addressable fire alarm systems that work with police services. 

Residential areas of UCO are also heavily equipped with fire alarms and sprinklers. The Broncho 4 Apartments, however, are only equipped with smoke-activated alarms along with Murdaugh Hall, which has no sprinklers but has audio and visual detectors, pull stations, and smoke detectors. 

“In Murdaugh and West Hall, UCO Police are not immediately notified when a room detector alarm sounds,” said the report. If there are any issues regarding these systems, the report states, “Students are encouraged to report any problems with these systems to the Housing Office. Smoke detectors are checked by Housing staff monthly during pest control waves to ensure they are in working order.”

There have been no reported fires in any of the residential buildings on campus between 2017 and 2019. Emergency egress (fire) drills are conducted within the first 10 days of the fall and spring semesters and conducted periodically in non-residential structures and academic buildings. 

“I felt safe in the dorms, we had fire drills a few times that allowed me to know what to do in case something happened,” said UCO student Ruthie Ross.

UCO has many ways of sending out emergency information to students and faculty as well. The Central Alert program sends emails, text messages, and voice calls to inform students of any emergency situations. 

“I feel like I always know what is going on,” Ross said. “As soon as anything happens, I get a text with more information.”

The report also details how residents can receive fire safety training. 

“Residents may receive a half-hour of fire safety training when six (6) or more residents request such training. This training will be conducted by the UCO Police and the Department of Environmental Health and Safety to improve survivability in a fire. Residents may request this training through their RA during the first thirty (30) days as a resident in UCO Housing,” the report said.

More information is available in the 2020 Annual Fire Safety Report. For questions, call the Emergency Management division of UCO Public Safety at (405) 974-2216.

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