A University of Exeter student was left shocked when the control box in his shower burst into flames on his first day back from the Easter holidays. First year Phil George’s room was filled with smoke and ashes, following electricity malfunctions.
The Mathematics and Computer Science fresher claimed to have suspected an issue when smoke was detected in his room. When George realised the shower was alight, he immediately alerted his four flatmates. James Owen Court was promptly evacuated and the fire brigade arrived shortly after.
Flames coming out of the shower box didn’t spread past the bathroom, but the damage done meant George had to be moved accommodation, to another room in the block.
Phil George told Exeposé: “Although the whole incident obviously cought me off guard, the university’s response in making sure I was fine afterwards made the whole thing a lot easier. They’ve offered to reimburse me for any damages and I was given a new room as my previous one was filled with ashes and the walls were burnt.”
The fire brigade brought the situation under control an hour after they were contacted. Nonetheless, the shower cubicle sustained 100% heat and smoke damage, whilst the flat itself had 40% of smoke damage. Damage had therefore not just occurred to George’s room, but to the flat as a whole.
When asked about other similar incidents, the fire station admitted to receiving other complaints from student security services at James Owen Court within the past academic year. The fire service was not required to be present at any previous occasions, however they were not required to attend at the time.
Kate Israel, an English student in George’s accommodation block contacted Exeposé with a similar experience that had effected her earlier on in the academic year, during Term Two. The English student had reportedly observed heavy smoke spreading throughout her room, which appears to be the same issues that George was faced with in Term Three.
Phil Attwell, Director of Campus Services said: “There was a small fire on Friday 22 April in our James Owen Court halls of residence caused by a defective shower. The health, safety and welfare of our students living in University accommodation is an absolute priority and we take these matters very seriously. The student living in the bedroom affected was unharmed and has been supported by the Residential Services team and alternative accommodation has been provided whilst the damaged room is restored. A replacement programme for the showers at James Owen Court began last year, and will be completed this year. We had intended to carry out this work after completion of summer term examinations to minimise disruption, but to assuage any anxiety that there may be amongst residents we have brought this programme forward to ensure an earlier completion date. The showers remain safe to use, however we always advise our students to call the fire brigade if they discover a fire in any of our residences or University buildings.”
Naomi Armstrong, VP Welfare and Diversity responded to the incident by stating: “Student safety in residences is paramount and I’m confident the University is working to ensure that this type of incident doesn’t reoccur.”