Recent campus fires have University of Dayton officials eager to remind students of fire safety precautions and the consequences of starting fires or tampering with fire equipment.
“Fire is a very serious thing,” said Randy Groesbeck, a police major and public safety director of administration and security. “Every year in our nation, students lose their life to fires or are injured in fires.”
Debra Monk, associate dean of students, community standards and civility, explained that UD takes fire safety very seriously.
“For anybody involved in an actual fire, the likely result is suspension,” Monk said. “For anyone involved in tampering with fire equipment, their consequences will range from probation with education to suspension. For anyone involved in arson, the response is expulsion.”
Monk also explained that if a person is responsible for lighting a flame, UD’s policy holds them accountable for the result of that action.
“We want students to be safe,” Monk said. “Students should acknowledge why we have fire safety precautions because there is a reason for the rules that we have. In no scenario is it OK to play with fire.”
According to a 2001 Flyer News article, a fire in a house in the student neighborhood killed a student.
A USA TODAY article from Aug. 30, 2006 explains how UD student A.J. Cohen died in a fire that was started by one of his housemates, Paul Morgan. Morgan was lighting paper towels on fire inside the house with friends. The fire spread the trapped Cohen in his second story bedroom.
Morgan eventually plead guilty to arson and involuntary manslaughter and served a six-month sentence at a community correctional facility.
Monk said she was working at UD at the time of the incident and will never forget how devastating it was.
According to UD policy, students are required to report any fires. Groesbeck and Monk both explained that fires can start from a number of causes and students should be careful in all circumstances involving open flames.
“I think that everyone has to be mindful of their own fire safety,” Monk said. “It is something that we should all be thinking about.”