UHDPS Encourages Fire Exit Awareness

March 6, 2007

During an emergency, would you know how to best evacuate your office and building?

This is one question University of Houston faculty, staff and students should be prepared to answer, said Bob Bowden, UH fire marshal.

As part of the Texas State Fire Marshall’s Office statewide campaign “Have an Exit Strategy,” Bowden and the UH Department of Public Safety (UHDPS) are encouraging the campus community to be aware of the different exits in the university’s buildings and facilities.

“Everybody should know where the secondary exits are in their buildings,” Bowden said. “In a fire situation, many people tend to head for the same door that he or she uses on a daily basis. When too many people exit through the same door, it can jeopardize an evacuation.”

Bowden said the incident that prompted the “Have an Exit Strategy” campaign was the Rhode Island nightclub fire in 2003 that claimed 100 lives. In that incident, a stampede of people rushed for the club’s front door when a fire broke out although there were additional exits. As a result, the doorway became blocked with bodies, and many of the club’s patrons became trapped.

“I recommend that every office have an emergency evacuation procedure that identifies the exits to be used,” Bowden said.

Bowden and other members of UHDPS are available to faculty, staff and students to discuss evacuation procedures, perform fire extinguisher demonstrations or conduct general fire safety classes. Faculty and staff can contact the fire and physical safety office at 713-743-1635 to schedule a demonstration or class.

For more information on the “Have an Exit Strategy” campaign, visit http://www.haveanexitstrategy.com/.

Mike Emery