Fire sprinkler safety installed in all UMASS dorms - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Fire sprinkler safety installed in all of UMASS Amherst's residence halls

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AMHERST, MA (WSHM) -

UMASS Amherst is ranked No. 5 in the nation for having the most on campus housing for students, with more than 12,000 students living in the college's 45 residence halls.

Currently, all of these students and their residence halls are safer than ever, because new sprinkler systems have officially been installed in every residence hall on campus.

It was part of a more than six-year, $27.2 million voluntary retrofit program funded in part by the state and also financed through the University of Massachusetts Building Authority.

Fire marshals said effective sprinkler systems are the backbone towards keeping students safe.

"It's like having a firefighter standing right in that room with a hose. When being able to have that activate, it  controls fire, keeps them smaller, keeps them cooler, extinguishes them quicker...it's a life saving tool, " said Stephen Coan, state fire marshal.

In 2005, UMASS Amherst officials said only 11 residence halls had sprinkler systems.

However, as of Wednesday, the technology and fire safety tools that UMASS Amherst has extends beyond the new sprinklers.

"We've upgraded the emergency lighting and exit lighting. The four residence halls that were most recently done got new generators this past summer. We have a very sophisticated fire alarm system that will give us early detection of the fire and get the students moving towards the exit ways," said Michael Swain, the fire prevention services supervisor for the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Thoreau Hall was the last dormitory on campus to get the new sprinkler systems.

Many students who live in there now feel safer just knowing that they have the newest fire safety equipment.

"I definitely feel safer. It's nice to know that we have sprinklers that will put fires out if there is one," said Tanner Houle, a freshman at UMASS Amherst living in Thoreau Hall.

"If anything ever did happen, I'm a heavy sleeper, and if anything did, I would just get covered in water and just head out," said Tom Penfield, a senior and resident advisor in Thoreau Hall at UMASS Amherst.

This July, UMASS Amherst plans to make its campus tobacco-free. It's another measure taken by the school to prevent fires on campus.

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