Determining Fire Hazards When Educators Decorate Their Classrooms in Clinton, Mississippi   [open pdf - 304KB]

"Elementary schools in the community of Clinton, Mississippi are frequently decorated throughout the year. The amount of combustible materials attached to walls and ceilings for decoration or display purposes in schools can be excessive creating a high fuel load. Over the years Clinton Fire Department (CFD) has faced difficulty in enforcing fire codes that limit or prevent certain decorations and their configurations in the schools. The problem was that the materials, quantities, and configurations of displays and decorations, did not meet fire code standards and therefore may threaten the lives of children and adults. The purpose of this research was to determine what types, quantities, and configurations of decorations are acceptable to meet fire code standards. The results from this research could prevent injuries and death in schools. The descriptive research method was employed to answer the following research questions: What has history taught society concerning fires that are attributed to decorations and furnishings? What materials make up the decorations in the classrooms and in what configurations are the decorations displayed? What are the flammability characteristics for the materials in the classrooms? What are the implications when classroom decorations and configurations do not meet the fire code standards? How are other fire departments addressing the quantity and type of decorations used in areas such as classrooms, corridors, and exits? The results of the Applied Research Project (ARP) were that teachers are often not aware of the implications of placing excessive decorations in schools. This ARP tested common materials found in decorations for their flammability. In order to demonstrate the implications of using excessive decorations a literature review of historical large-loss fires was conducted. In addition, a live fire demonstration was conducted involving a common classroom display to demonstrate the rapid flame spread and intensity of a school decorations fire."

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