Building on fireFirefighters from Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) recently gave students an early wake-up call to highlight the importance of evacuating their halls of residence when a fire alarm sounds as part of an exercise with student accommodation providers Unite Students.

At 09.00hrs on 22 October students living in the Orchard Heights halls of residence heard the fire alarm activate and once clear of the building were given information and advice on the importance of ensuring they take all fire drills and activations seriously.

The exercise took place just a week after a fire, which was caused by an unattended pan of oil, devastated students halls in Bristol and Group Manager for Risk Reduction Matt Peskett says its crucial to ensure students remain vigilant upon hearing an alarm.

"The aim of the exercise was to highlight to students the importance of fire safety. We know students can sometimes be complacent on hearing a fire alarm, but the [recent kitchen fire] incident on Colston Street was a dramatic reminder that fires can happen anywhere," he said.

"The alarms activated allowing all the students inside to safely evacuate and staff to follow their well-managed fire evacuation plan. Although the building was badly damaged the presence of the alarms undoubtedly saved lives that day. We want to make sure that all students living in the city are safe and they take the necessary steps to ensure they reduce the risk of a fire starting in the first place, but also to make sure they know that when the fire alarm goes off, they need to leave the building immediately."

Firefighters also used the opportunity to speak to the young people about the importance of fire safety measures, including taking care when cooking, keeping fire doors closed and not setting off the fire alarm unnecessarily.

Unite Students Area Manager Richard Brenner added: "I’m very proud that our staff at Orchard Heights offered immediate support and shelter to University of Bristol students left temporarily homeless in the aftermath of the Colston Street fire.

“That fire served as a very unfortunate reminder of the need for constant vigilance.There is literally nothing more important to Unite than the safety of our students, and we wholeheartedly support this very timely fire drill.”

Since the start of the new university term, AF&RS has been working with the universities in order to highlight fire safety issues.

The campaign has focused on encouraging students to ensure they don’t leave cooking unattended. Kitchen fires account for more than 50% of all accidental house fires.