On January 22nd, an email with an updated Fire Safety Policy Notice was sent out to all students who live in Seton Hall residence halls.
The guidelines of the policy states that string lights are no longer permitted in the residence halls (including LED lights, battery operated, etc.), and flags and tapestries cannot be on walls/suite doors, including room doors and bathroom doors.
These guidelines were determined through collaboration with the South Orange Fire Department and the SHU Housing & Residence Life Department Staff.
According to Eric Mochnacz, Assistant Director for Training and Development in the Housing and Residence Life Department, these guidelines are not new. They were first introduced after the Boland Hall Fire incident in 2000 occurred, and have been in effect ever since. The fire safety guidelines, included in SHU fire safety manual, prohibit string lights as well as tapestries.
Mochnacz said, “In discussing our health and safety inspection procedures as a department, we realized some of the wording may have been ambiguous and open to interpretation by students and our in-hall staff.”
As a result, the department decided to send out an email to serve as a reminder to all SHU residents.
The Housing and Residence Life Department staff annually reviews SHU fire safety policies and procedures with the SOFD, and updates the Fire Safety Manual as needed. Additionally, as other issues become apparent, they work to notify students of changes in the interest of their safety.
The staff periodically reviews the policies and procedures to ensure students are receiving clear messages and are having a consistent experience, no matter where they live on campus.
Each year, the staff also look into new products introduced on the market that do not meet the fire safety standards. However, the staff does not learn of these products until they see them in a residence hall room. For instance, a few years ago, a number of retailers began selling lamps with outlets in the base. The staff only became aware of its existence after they published the Fire Safety Manual, thus they had to update students via e-mail that keeping that particular lamp would be subject to confiscation and/or a potential fire safety violation documentation.
Despite the fact that the fire regulations were not altered, most students were caught off guard by the email of the Fire Safety Policy Notice and were not aware that these guidelines had been in place.
However, some students agreed wholeheartedly with the fire safety guidelines and understood that these guidelines were set in place for their safety.
Taylor Epps, a sophomore Criminal Justice major says, “Even though everyone knows about the Boland Hall incident, I don’t think it’s fully registering in many students’ that another incident like that could easily happen again if these guidelines were not put into effect.”
Alyssa Hawkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.