After two fires broke out in the same Stenner Glen suite two weeks ago, three of the seven female residents have been relocated to other buildings and one has left the complex altogether. The fires, which caused an estimated $60,000 worth of damage combined, kept all residents of building eight out of their rooms on the nights of Jan. 8 to 9.
“Being back in the building after right after it happened has been scary, because you never know when it could happen again,” said architecture freshman and building eight resident Jen Agius.
On Jan. 8 after a mattress caught fire, it was discovered that the battery had been removed from the suite’s smoke alarm. The following night, another fire started due to the placement of a construction lamp near combustible materials.
An informational e-mail from Stenner Glen employees stated that the batteries in the smoke alarms are changed once a year and then they are tested again prior to student move-in day.
Due to the age of the building, the Stenner Glen housing complex is not equipped with emergency fire sprinklers.
“If Stenner Glen had sprinklers, the fire damage would have been a lot less, insignificant,” said Fire Marshall Jim Tringham.
Cerro Vista is the only on-campus student housing to have a full sprinkler system with fire sprinklers in the common areas and all bedrooms. Yosemite and Sierra Madre dorms do not have sprinklers in the student bedrooms, while the North and South Mountain halls have no sprinkler systems.
“I think that all student housing should be equipped with sprinklers, it would create a safer environment,” said Stenner Glen building four resident and animal science freshman Jackie Jacobs.
Adding fire sprinklers to a building like Stenner Glen would cost about $4 or $5 per square foot and they can usually be installed with minimum amounts of construction, Tringham said.
“I would be interested in paying more money to have sprinklers installed while I still live here. I am considering getting fire insurance now because my room contains almost everything I own,” Agius said.
This year, campus housing officials installed new wireless smoke detector systems in three of the South Mountain dorms. If smoke is detected, each device is capable of transmitting that information directly to public safety. During summer quarter the wireless system will be added to the remaining three buildings.
“After we complete the red bricks we will continue on to Yosemite, Sierra Madre and the (North) Mountain halls. Soon all of the student housing on campus will be a part of the wireless smoke detector system; we are on the right track,” said housing and business director Alan Pepe.
All students living in Stenner Glen received e-mails following both fires with information on how to ensure their smoke alarms are functioning properly and encouraging students to report those who tamper with the equipment. Residents of building eight, where both fires occurred, had a private meeting last week to discuss what happened, fire safety and the feelings of the students involved.
“I’m really glad they held that meeting because it reminded me that everyone living there is in the same boat and now we will all be watching for signs to prevent fires in the future,” Agius said.