Contact: Jenni Smith
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650


Aug. 29, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University students will experience what it is like to escape from a burning building during a fire safety training Thursday, Sept. 13.

Recreating a scene similar to the early morning fire that killed three students at Seton Hall University in New Jersey last year, SMU and the City of University Park Fire Department will use fire alarms, black theatrical smoke and staged lighting to conduct the training from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in SMU's Lettermen Hall, 3115 Binkley Ave.

Once the mock fire is initiated, students on the second floor of the residence hall will need to find their way out of the building through the darkness and smoke.

"This disaster drill will give students a chance to work through a fire experience without being in actual danger," said SMU Fire Safety Coordinator Floyd Phelps. "The purpose is to heighten awareness of fire safety and to make the situation real to them, so that they will know what to do."

Between 100 to 200 student volunteers will be able to take part in the mock disaster, which is the result of coordination between SMU's office of Risk Management and Environmental Health and Safety (RMEHS), the department of Residence Life and Student Housing and the University Park Fire Department.

"I don't think this has been done anywhere else, especially to this magnitude," said University Park Fire Marshal Carl McMurphy. "Safety is our primary objective."

UP firefighters will be inside the building to supervise that no one is injured. Students will be briefed and taken to second floor rooms where they will stay until the fire alarms sound. After the drill, students will be critiqued on what they did right and wrong. Residence Life staff also will discuss the experience with the participants.

The RMEHS office also conducts routine fire safety inspections and presents a Fire Safety Award each semester to the SMU residence hall with the best overall fire safety program. Fire drills are conducted at all residence halls and Greek houses every semester, supervised by the SMU Police Department.