Don’t Light a Cigarette While Applying Hairspray

Now I know what you’re all asking yourselves,

“Is that picture going on the cover of a charity firefighter’s calendar?”

I feel the same way. Unfortunately, the fire department has refused to include the picture… because I’m not a firefighter. Far from it, in fact.

I have poked around with fire before. And it’s done a fair share of poking back at me. I’ve seen my brother microwave soup for 10 minutes. I’ve lit a grill after letting the gas run for too long. I’ve fallen asleep making a pizza. I’ve lit fireworks too close to my house. I’ve started bonfires with things you don’t start bonfires with. As you can can probably tell, I’m not qualified to be firefighter. That’s why I’ve chosen to educate myself and pass the information along to you.


I didn’t have experience with house fires growing up. It was something that happened to other people–people I didn’t know. After beginning college, it was people I knew personally, on a couple occasions. A sorority house caught fire during a school break and caused over $1mm in damage. Thankfully, no one was hurt. The following year, a Chi Psi Brother’s apartment burned over a long weekend. The cause: a neighbor tossed a cigarette off the balcony, and it blew back onto the lower level. Brother Lanz lost everything he owned because of that fire, the greatest loss, in his opinion, was his ski boots. Since it was John Lanz, he managed to see the positives of the loss and became excited about new clothes and deadline extensions in class. While there is no doubt he’s a burden to everyone’s’ bar tab, except his own, we’re all glad he is safe.

Fire safety is something we all think about this time of year as we learn about the tragedy at the Cornell Lodge. It’s important to actively stay prepared because fires aren’t waiting for you sober up in the morning or being mindful of your stress level during finals. Fires occur whenever we allow oxygen, heat, and their jackass friend, fuel, to hang out unsupervised.

Let’s go over some facts regarding fires around college campuses:

  • Firefighters respond to an average of 3,800 calls a year in fraternities, sororities, and dormitories.
  • These fires account for an average of 2 deaths per year.
  • Each year, an average of 30 civilians are injured.
  • There is an annual average of $9mm in property damage, due to fires.

Simple rules to follow that can minimize the risk of fires:

  1. Have your smoke detectors, sprinklers, and fire alarms tested regularly.
  2. Develop and teach evacuation plans to residents.
  3. Have live fire drills each semester.
  4. Stop propping the fire doors open with cinder blocks and crushed beer cans.
  5. Make sure kitchen equipment is turned off after use.
  6. Monitor electrical setup in each bedroom.
  7. Provide a safe disposal area for smokers.

Here are some ways to better educate Brothers and develop a relationship with your local fire department:

  • Invite fire inspector to speak at an Alpha Meeting.
  • Host a BBQ for your local fire department.
  • Have Exec board, Risk Manager, and Lodge Manager participate in a ride along program with the fire department.
  • Hold a fire safety seminar where Brothers can learn how to use a fire extinguisher, put out an oil fire, and how to react in an emergency.
  • Expand these opportunities to the rest of the Greek Community.


You are the key defense against fires in your home. Stay prepared with evacuation plans. Test emergency equipment regularly. Immediately address and fix high-risk areas. Remember, we are not all wired in the same way as John Lanz, some of us would struggle to see the positive light in a house fire. Let’s be safe and avoid fires.

-Maxwell Greene, Self-Appointed Director of Flame


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s