More Emphasis on Fire/Emergency Pre-Plans for Student Housing

Loyola Sees Benefits of Fire/Emergency Pre-Plans for Student Housing.

Historically, universities have reported thousands of campus fires across the United States, with the majority in student housing. The end result is millions of dollars of property damage, many students injured and numerous lives lost.

As a result of shooting incidents at universities, crisis plans and procedures have been adopted on many campuses which are, of course, important. However, when you consider the number of campus fires versus the numbers of other incidents, it would seem that in addition to the mass notification programs, more emphasis should be given to fire emergencies.

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Loyola University Chicago is the first university to have a comprehensive pre-plan for fire and emergency by CommandScope. It enables emergency vehicles to know every detail of the school’s student housing properties.
Father Michael Garazini, president of Loyola University Chicago — which has two of the larger campuses in Chicago — recognized this. As a result, both Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus and Water Tower Campus, which collectively have more than 70 buildings and 15,000 students, have been totally pre-planned with RealView’s CommandScope Fire/Emergency Pre-Plan Program.

Loyola is proud to be the first university in the country that has been electronically pre-planned. With CommandScope, emergency responders can access a Loyola campus map with addresses, to easily identify the building with the emergency. The pre-plan also includes site plans, floor plans, utility shutoffs, contact information, disabled persons, building construction details, hazardous materials (if any), fire protection and much more. It is the knowledge base a first responder requires to respond to any incident.

The information is on touch-screen computers in the security office and strategically around the campuses at many student housing buildings. An added bonus is that the data is also on the command vehicle computers of the Office of Emergency Management Communication (OEMC) and the Chicago Fire Department. In addition, since authorized personnel can make real time updates to the program — which automatically update all computers — the pre-plans stay current.

The first step in moving Loyola’s data into the system was gathering all the information together. This turned out to be an invaluable process. Like most campuses with multiple buildings, Loyola’s information was spread across structures and departments without a centralized clearinghouse. Security had its own information, and so did the facilities department, student housing and academic department heads.

An electronic pre-plan should be in every student housing facility. In a fire or emergency, information is instantly available and emergency teams can assess the situation quickly and efficiently. This provides for a response with knowledge rather than act by trial and error, which is too often the case. Knowing that the fire safety information is easily accessible, always updated, secure and backed up in an electronic pre-plan should give any student, parent, housing ownership, management, university officials and insurance carriers great peace of mind.

— Randall Shearin

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