By Alice Horner
A school light fixture caught fire in Reid Hall last Thursday, raising concerns about safety in one of Washington College’s oldest residential halls.
Sophomores Jessica Klein and Jamie Greedan were getting ready to go to bed when they smelled something burning. Fellow sophomore hallmate Beilin Zia investigated the smell and saw the flames flickering. “Any second the bed could have caught fire,” Zia said.
Danyelle Martin, RAD and the RA of the first floor, explained that the fire happened on the same night as a fire drill, so most residents did not react as quickly as normal.
“It’s scary for me because it’s my girls, that’s what gets me,” said Martin.
The girls were informed by Public Safety that the plastic covering on the light got pushed in, and caused a shift in electrical wires, which sparked the fire.
“I’m just happy my bedding didn’t catch on fire,” said Greedan. “Because this building is so old, if my bed caught fire, this whole building would have gone down. That freaked me out a little.”
The girls expressed concern at the placement of the light fixture. “It makes me nervous that the lighting is so close to the bed,” said Klein. “Public Safety was very helpful. They were here within a minute, and they were here until 4 a.m.” Klein said.
Although the girls were shaken up, they believe it was most likely an unavoidable accident. “I was upset, but I don’t know how preventable it is,” Klein said. Martin added, “from what I guess, it was just a fluke.” The incident did highlight some concerns about safety education.
Klein did not know how to use a fire extinguisher, but managed to and Martin said that it’s not taught during pre-orientation.