Controlled burn to flare up on campus

The McMinnville Fire Department will set fire to a replica of a residence hall bedroom at 4 p.m. Sept. 30 to demonstrate how quickly a fire can spread.
Students, faculty and the community can gather on the IM Field to watch the event, which coincides with Campus Fire Safety Month.
The controlled burn will include examples of residence hall rooms set up in two side-by-side trailers. One room will contain a fire sprinkler; the other will not.
The fire department intends to demonstrate the effectiveness of a sprinkler in an actual fire.
The rooms will not include any out-of-the-ordinary combustibles, such as gasoline or matches.
McMinnville Fire Marshal Eric McMullen will set fire to a piece of paper in each room’s trash bin, and the flames will grow from there.
McMullen said the purpose of the controlled burn is to give a real-life demonstration of fire and how quickly it can spread.
“We can go into a classroom and meet with groups all day and try to explain to people what it’s all about,” he said. “It gives the option to feel the power of the fire.”
McMullen has been working with McMinnville Fire Inspector Debbie McDermott and Gordon Kroemer, director of Linfield environmental health and safety, to organize the event.
Although this will be the first controlled burn event on campus, Linfield is not the first school in the Northwest to host such an event.
George Fox University has been conducting surprise controlled burns on a yearly basis, leaving the students shocked when they witness a replica of a dorm room in flames.
Kroemer said a tragic event that occurred in 2000 in New Jersey inspired the controlled burns.
“Three students were killed and more than 50 were injured in a fire at Seton Hall University,” he said. “The fire had a dramatic impact on fire safety across the nation. Two students were severely burned in the fire and had to undergo extensive treatment in a burn center.”
After the tragedy, a program, titled igot2know, was developed. The program was created by the People’s Burn Foundation under a Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant to create awareness of fire safety among the public.
People can educate themselves about campus fire safety by visiting
Visit and complete all three modules and view the main fire safety video to automatically be entered to win prizes, including a new iPad, at the Sept. 30 event.
For more information about Campus Fire Safety Month, visit

Lauren Ostrom/Freelancer
Lauren Ostrom can be reached at

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