Stillwater News Press

Local News

September 12, 2013

Fire marshals, Oklahoma State fire safety students to begin inspecting homecoming decorations

STILLWATER, Okla. — Stillwater fire marshals are pairing with fire protection safety students at Oklahoma State University to begin inspecting the Greek community’s homecoming decorations this month.  

Fire Marshal Trent Hawkins met with the OSU students at 5:30 on Tuesday at the Solar Building on campus to discuss what to expect in the days leading up to the annual Oct. 18 Walkaround.

Crowds are expected to be anywhere between 57,000 and 80,000 this year.  

Hawkins outlined a few things that are considered safety regulations:

• No extension cords out of doors or windows.

• No storage piles in doorways or hallways.

• Make sure that whatever is done outside of the house does not affect exiting the building

Every year, the OSU Alumni Association meets with the fire department and Greek community. Each house presents its decoration ideas and is given homecoming safety guidelines. They are also given a building permit by the fire department.

Hawkins said they began “pomping,” or building the paper mache into chicken wire, on Aug. 27 and officially construct the frames beginning Sept. 4.

“There are rules and regulations,” Hawkins said. “My office has a lot going on and we can’t always be on campus. It gives them field experience. If they come across something they don’t know, I’m easily accessible.”

Tyler Recek, intern at the fire department and student of the fire protection and safety technology program, said in order to do the inspections, students have to pass a basic fire safety course and understand Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.

“The fire department really benefits from our involvement and we benefit from doing the work,” he said.

This year, Recek took over organizing the 25 to 30 student volunteers who are also members of the Fire Protection Society.

Volunteers will monitor all the 12 houses, which are split into six teams, and inspect them each week.

On the Thursday before Walkaround, fire marshals and student volunteers will be inspecting from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.

“We’re looking for anything that stands out and could cause a fire like electrical wiring in front of panels,” said Austin Allen, a senior in fire protection.

In the last three years that Allen has inspected, he said there have been no major issues. His group is assigned Sigma Nu and Alpha Tau Omega.

Hawkins said he wishes he could do more for the volunteers, but the experience is invaluable for them.

Fire Station No. 2 will provide the volunteers with a free meal on Oct. 17.

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