College meets sprinkler regulations

With the deadline set by the Dormitory Fire Safety Trust Fund Act fast approaching, many schools are working to install sprinkler systems in residence facilities across the state.

The College said it has already met all obligations required by the act.

In July of 2000, former Governor Christie Todd Whitman signed the Dormitory Fire Safety Trust Fund Act, which required institutions of higher education to install automatic sprinklers in student residence facilities.

The act also set a four-year deadline that required schools to install the automatic fire suppression systems installed in the residence halls and insisted that at least 25 percent of the project be completed each year.

The act was developed as a result of the fire at Seton Hall University on Jan. 19, 2000, which killed three students and injured almost 60 others. Sprinklers may have lessened the damage of the fire, which started in a dormitory lounge.

The College announced plans in February of 2000 to install sprinkler systems in Centennial, Norsworthy and New Residence halls by the end of the summer of 2000.

All other residence halls already had working sprinkler systems in place.

“The final three sprinkler systems in TCNJ’s residence halls were installed and complete by the summer of 2000,” Brian Webb, Occupational Health and Safety Officer for the College, said. “All TCNJ residence halls were equipped with sprinklers in advance of the July 2004 deadline.”

Other area schools are working to comply with this deadline. As of July 2003, Rutgers University had 78.4 percent of its residence halls equipped with sprinkler systems. Residence halls in the Livingston, College Ave. New Brunswick and Newark campuses have completed fire suppression systems.

Aside from installing sprinkler systems, the College also put new fire safety rules in effect after the Seton Hall fire.

Halogen lamps, multi-plug adaptors and candles were banned from the College’s residence halls.

John Stafford, director of Residence Life, said the College has done a good job overall in meeting the requirements, but notes that fire safety also relies on the students.

“Fire safety is more than just having a sprinkler system,” Stafford said.

“We know most students don’t pay attention to the fire alarms,” Stafford added. That’s part of fire safety (but) students have to recognize their own responsibility.”