Unfortunately, the desire for fun and games has trumped the memory of a deadly fire at Nebraska Weslyan campus. 4 short years after a 19 year old student was killed in a fraternity fire at Weslyan, fire safety has taken a back seat to good times. Acoording to the Lincoln Journal Star:
Fire Inspector Rick Campos made a surprise visit to Theta Chi, a fraternity on the other side of campus.
He found all of the house's smoke detectors blocked by commercial-grade covers.
The covers were the same kind construction crews use to keep out dust. But the fraternity brothers weren't doing contract work, Campos says, they were smoking inside and didn't want to get caught.
Although the fraternities may consider the fire inspectors to be the bane of their existence, this type of inspection is vital to ensuring the safety of students. While the school and nearly University of Nebraska at Lincoln have been working to improve fire safety and student education, it is clear just how difficult the challenge is.
At UNL's Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house, a student discharged a fire extinguisher in December when there wasn't a fire. The student is set to appear in court this week.
Earlier in the semester, someone set off fireworks in the house. No one was cited, but a similar incident in Iowa recently resulted in felony charges, Campos said.
At another UNL fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, someone set a chair on fire in a second-floor hallway at 5 a.m. on a Monday, when the house was filled with students.
Fire extinguisher vandalism is an epidemic on college campuses, and when you hear about stunts like this, having the first line of fire defense unavailable due to someone goofing around is inexcusable. In addition to the invaluable job that fire inspectors perform, having the fire extinguishers on campus monitored electronically for removal, blockage or lack of pressure will dramatically cut down on expenses associated with vandalism and improve the safety of students.