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Fire safety

Meld Magazine

Tue Aug 10 2010

Rice Bar fire

Firefighters attended the blaze which broke out at Rice Bar on Swanston St, Carlton, just before midnight on June 9. Photo: Ian Lau

ABOUT two months ago, I had the most unexpected birthday surprise. Along with 200 other residents from my apartment building, I celebrated my birthday out in the cold and wet night of Melbourne.

As the clock struck 12, the fire alarm in our apartment block went off as smoke began seeping into our corridors.

We were all evacuated as fire fighters battled the flames. A fire had broken out at the ground floor Rice Bar restaurant. Fortunately, the fire was contained and damage was restricted to the restaurant’s kitchen.

Looking back, I smile as I recall the sight of students streaming out of the apartment block in their pyjamas. Some were carrying their textbooks – suggesting an interruption in their study time; others clutching their pets.

Me? My teeth chattered as I was caught out in the cold dressed in nothing more than a T-shirt, jumper and shorts.

But laughs aside, an ignorance about fire safety among international students is quite alarming  (no pun intended). As I write about this, I speak for myself as well.

Protocols and safety procedures – often overlooked and deemed a hassle – is essential and we only realise it when a situation like the one I experienced occurs.

Perhaps more could be done to educate students, such as through fire drills, to familiarise themselves with the safety procedures in the event of an emergency.

You don’t want to be a deer caught in headlights when the fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night. Familiarise yourself with the protocols and know the drills.

It’s better to be cold but safe.