SUNY Potsdam RAs get hands-on fire safety training

08.28.09

SUNY Potsdam resident assistants recently got in-depth fire prevention and safety training from Fire Protection Specialist Christopher Taylor
Sophomore music education major Jordan Davidson of Philadelphia, NY, practices using one of the fire extinguishers to quash a fire. Davidson will be an RA on the seventh floor of Bowman South this year.

Fire Protection Specialist Christopher Taylor from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control recently gave SUNY Potsdam resident assistants and resident directors a close up look at fire safety protocols as part of their training.

RAs spent a recent morning learning about fire prevention and safety, what to do in the event of a fire and how to effectively use three types of fire extinguishers.

RAs are responsible for a variety of services from informally making academic suggestions to formally enforcing College policy. They provide social and educational programming, emergency response, crisis intervention, conflict mediation and referrals to campus and community resources.

“Fire is a real and constant threat to the welfare of college and university students,” said Taylor. “Residence life personnel have the most direct contact with students and have the greatest potential to impact their fire and life safety behavior.”

RAs served as college representatives while also being peers for the other students on their floors.

“The RAs are not only an important part of our management team; they are another set of eyes to ensure safety in our residence halls and across this campus,” said Calvin L. Smith, SUNY Potsdam environmental health and safety officer. “Increasing the amount of training and the quality of that training is a goal in the overall Health and Safety plan for the entire College.”

“It is a challenge for us to find a balance between allowing students to personalize their rooms and make them comfortable and ensuring that they are safe for others in those areas,” said Eric Duchscherer, director of residence life at SUNY Potsdam.

Elizabeth Lucas, a sophomore Bowman South fifth floor RA from Potsdam, said the training made her realize the seriousness of her position as an RA.

“It was good to think about how I would handle an emergency situation and to practice the scenarios that might arise,” said Lucas, biology major. “It put into prospective for me the reality of fires and I’d like to have my residents get this kind of training too.”

Sophomore music education major Jordan Davidson of Philadelphia, NY, will be an RA on the seventh floor of Bowman South. He said getting to know more about fires and how to fight them was very powerful.

“Before this, I didn’t realize all the possibilities of what a fire can do and the different things that cause fires,” said Davidson. “I feel much more confident and prepared to use a fire extinguisher.”

Knowles South RA and junior politics major Henrique Schembry of Lisbon said he found the training session very informative.

“I never had to use a fire extinguisher before, so it was good to practice to make sure I could do it,” he said. “It was lighter than I expected.”

“The students asked several, well thought-out questions during both the classroom presentation and practical fire extinguisher exercise. I was very pleased with the reception and overall interest in pursuing additional educational opportunities for their students,” Taylor said.

“Members of the campus community must know and practice fire safe behaviors by identifying hazards and using appropriate preventative measures,” said Taylor. “Each member of the campus community must take responsibility for fire prevention as an element of his or her own safety and that of others.”