Returning students, accustomed to draping their dorm rooms with string lights or plastering the walls with posters, need to rethink their decorations this year.
The 2015-16 FGCU Housing Community Guide prohibits several decorative items that students may be accustomed to using.
Brian Fisher, the director of Housing and Residence Life at FGCU, said that the changes, which prohibit the use of string lights, window decorations and posters that covers more than 25 percent of a rooms wall space, are part of annual fine-tuning to the community guidebook.
“We’re just trying to reduce the risk of fire,” Fisher said. “We have a committee in our office that makes changes to the community guidebook every year. These changes are sometimes made at the recommendation of the state fire marshal, who annually inspects every building on campus.”
Joe McDonald, assistant vice president for Business Operations at FGCU, said the state fire marshal inspects exits, signage and fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers.
“Because were a state university, the state fire marshal sets rules,” McDonald said.
String lights have been banned from dorms because of the possibility that people exiting the building in an emergency could get tangled in them, or the wiring could catch fire.
“Decorative lighting around doors could catch fire and fall on someone, as they’re trying to exit the building quickly,” McDonald said.
Window decorations were banned for a similar reason, because a decoration may get in someones way if they need to exit through a window in an emergency, and could catch on fire.
The poster rule was enacted to reduce the risk of fire spreading to the ceiling. McDonald said that a wall covered in posters could spread fire straight from the source of the flame to the ceiling more quickly than a bare wall. When the ceiling catches on fire it can more easily spread to the rest of the rooms in the hallway.
McDonald noted that posters and bulletin boards in dorm hallways are often enclosed in glass to reduce the risk of that material being used to start a fire.
Some dorm rules that have remained in the guidebook this year forbid keeping storage boxes on top of cabinets and hanging decorations from the ceiling. Both of those rules are in place to reduce the risk of a fire spreading to the ceiling.
Employees of the Division of the State Fire Marshal have already visited campus this school year but not for a regular inspection. Employees of the division are investigating the cause of a fire in Everglades Hall that occurred Aug. 16. McDonald said the unofficial cause was that a hoverboard charger overheated. The students whose rooms were affected by the fire have been moved to temporary on-campus housing so their rooms can be cleaned for smoke damage.
“Hoverboards are not banned from campus at this point in time,” McDonald said. “The risk safety officer will check, along with the state, to check if there are any defects with the charger. If that’s the case, they may look for a recall on the charger.”