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Fire department deals with water pipe breaks

By Julia Werth
On January 21, 2014

The University of Connecticut Fire Department has been able "to fix everything for this coming semester," according to Fire Department Lt. Heidi Vaughan, despite a 10-inch water main break in the Atwater Pathology Lab and many sprinkler pipe breaks in Husky Village, South, West, Alumni and the Pharmacy Building that caused significant water damage.
Vaughan explained the many sprinkler breaks were a result of "fluctuations in weather" that occurred during the winter break.
"Heaters didn't keep up, so as it thawed the sprinklers let go," said Vaughan.
According to Vaughan, the fire department "takes the sprinkling system very seriously" and thus put in its best effort to ensure safety for students upon their return this past weekend.
This semester, the fire department is looking to continue and expand the training of its employees.
"All of us will be taking a hazardous material technician refresher training," Vaughan said.
The firefighters in UConn's department are trained to a higher level than the average firefighter in order to ensure their competence in dealing with possible problems in many of the science buildings.
The department will also be "improving efficiency of high rise operations," said Vaughan, through a high rise training course.
Additionally, the fire department will announce that they are hiring a new firefighter during the spring semester. Charles Sutton, after 20 years of service, will be retiring, and the department is in search of a replacement.
Although most students may feel confident in their knowledge of fire safety, Vaughan would like to remind students of many important safety tips that have become an issue during the past semester.
"Hair straighteners are a major issue," Vaughan said.
She suggests straightening hair in the bathroom, as opposed to the bedroom, because of potential fire hazards. She also advises students not leave the straightener plugged in after finishing.
Another problem that has become more significant as of late is the "100-calorie popcorn," said Vaughan. These packages are much smaller than the average popcorn package and thus should not be cooked using the popcorn setting on a microwave. It is best to follow the directions on each popcorn package than trust a microwave to have the appropriate setting.
Easy Mac and Raman Noodles, the favorite foods of many dorms, have also become a concern at UConn. "You need to add water to these foods," reminds Vaughan, "otherwise you end up with a burnt noodle mess that smells really bad."

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