COLUMBUS -- Firefighters lit the contents of a wastepaper basket, then stood back. Twelve minutes later, there was little left of the couch, baby carrier, curtains and other contents of the room.
Realistically, it takes emergency responders at least that long to get to the scene and begin spraying water onto a blaze.
"There's still some hot spots hidden up behind the curtains, (and) this couch is still very hot," said Steve Waltman, fire safety educator for the state, as he pointed to the charred remains. "Do not mess around, get up and get out right away."
Waltman offered the comments to more than a dozen Kent State University student security workers Wednesday as part of a first-of-its-kind training program offered at the state fire academy in suburban Columbus.
The students participated in a full day of classroom instruction and hands-on training, all aimed at helping them understand the dangers of fire and the need for quick response to alarms.
"You, as security people, have to take this seriously," Waltman said. "You have to move our residents out of their dorms and make them take it seriously until we're sure what's going on in the building."
KSU was the first university to participate in the pilot Campus Fire Safety Ambassador Program, which included instruction on maneuvering through smoke-filled rooms and extinguishing smaller fires.
"We talked about how fire extinguishers work, how smoke detectors work, how long it takes for a room to catch on fire," said Carlos Mojica, a graduate student at KSU who works as assistant manager of campus security. "This is something that we want to be proactive about and not reactive. Safety is our main concern."
Frank Conway, chief of the state's fire prevention bureau, said the intent is to expand the program to teach fire safety to more residence hall and campus security workers.
"The goal is to provide this training across Ohio," he said. "I would like to provide to the fire service and to universities a common training program."
State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers added in a released statement, "We have a responsibility to prepare our students to leave the high school environment, where they are living at home, to enter a college environment and living on their own. To keep them safe. This program will go a long way towards improving their safety prospects so that their parents can rest easy."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.