A presentation in front of the Arts Center (Carriage House) on Oct. 7 reminded viewers of the importance of fire safety and prevention as part of National Fire Prevention Week 2015.
Student volunteers started acting out a situation in which they accidentally started a kitchen fire with terrible consequences such as traumatic injuries and even one death, requiring assistance from emergency first responders.
Those participating in the exercise included student volunteers, the Department of Housing and Residence Life, Public Safety, the South Orange fire and police departments and rescue squad, St. Barnabas Hospital burn unit, and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) volunteers.
Brian Bozzo, junior marketing major, was one of the student volunteers acting as a fire victim. Bozzo said, “It’s more realistic than even I thought it would be. I was swept up in the action and it was all very moving to be a part of it.”
The event struck very close to home for three of the guests present: Shawn Simons, one of the survivors of the 2000 Boland Hall fire, as well as Candy and Joe Karol, parents of Aaron Karol, who died as a result of the Boland Hall fire.
The three took the time to personally thank all those involved after the exercise concluded.
Shortly after, members of Aspiring Kindness Foundation presented a $20,000 check to the University for awareness and education on fire prevention.
The foundation was created in 2010 by friends of Aaron Karol, as a philanthropic tribute to him as well as the other two victims Frank Caltabilota and John Giunta, and all those affected by the tragedy. To date, the foundation has raised more than $100,000 to support emergency responders and service providers and their programs.
The Aspiring Kindness Foundation’s donation allows for fire protection programs such as this exercise and more to be carried out without the use of emergency funds.
“As an institution, we remain committed to remember those we lost in the Boland Hall fire,” Tara Hart, director of Housing and Residence Life said. “But beyond mere memory, we are grateful to work with the Aspiring Kindness Foundation, which also goes beyond remembering and honors both the memory of their friend, Aaron and all we lost that day.”
Jason Tarantino, president of Aspiring Kindness Foundation, voiced mutual support for Seton Hall, saying, “We are honored to partner with Seton Hall University and the community for this significant milestone. The 15th year anniversary of the Boland Hall fire holds a special meaning to our foundation and continues to be our driving motivation.”
Edward Colombo, sophomore political science major and resident assistant in Aquinas Hall, found the exercise impressive, especially after the fire drill that took place at Aquinas Hall around 1 a.m. on Oct. 7.
Colombo said, “I think that if students see this, they can see what’s actually happening and it becomes less of a drill and more of an actual lesson.”
Nicholas Zeitlinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu.