Safety at seminary (and yeshiva)

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    Now that many of our children are going off to seminary (or yeshiva) and Israel, please ask your child to make sure that the dorm has working smoke detectors.

    My daughter recently came back from a year at a well-respected seminary in Israel. I was appalled when I found out that the smoke detectors in her dormitory were disconnected or otherwise did not work. The dormitory was crowded and had a number of cooking areas. It would have been quite easy for a fire to start.

    I suspect that the problem was that the smoke detectors were disconnected because of false alarms. These can be minimized by positioning the smoke detectors further away from cooking facilities. Also, many new smoke detectors have a hush feature that can turn them off temporarily when there is a false alarm. Unfortunately, the seminary administration did not see fit to respond to my respectful e-mails encouraging them to install working smoke detectors, nor did they make any effort to correct the problem. That is why I suggest that your child checks for working smoke detectors.


    I don’t have a child learning over seas yet. But I can tell you that’s not the only saftey concern I would have and probably the smallest. If I was this concernd as you are and rightfuly you are. Go in to any hardware homeware store in your area and buy a smoke/carbon dedector for less then twenty dollars. One set of Batteries will get you through atleast one Zman.

    I wish you a lot of nachas.


    OnlyTheTruth: You may be right that it isn’t the greatest concern, but it isn’t a minor concern, either. And a single smoke detector will not help in a large building. You need many of them, one at regular intervals.

    There is an appalling lack of interest in smoke detectors in residential buildings as well. I have put some up in the stairwell in my building, but I have never seen any of these in any residential building I have visited.

    In the UK, the fire department will install these for free. They should do the same here in Israel.


    dd – It is very disheartening that the seminary did not see fit to respond to your e-mails. You entrusted them with the safety of your daughter! IMHO it was very irresponsible of them.


    In my seminary the smoke detectors were way TOO sensitive it started going off at 6 in the morning quite a few times, and we all had to file out half asleep. We had no doubt it would go off if there was really a need! I guess depends on the seminary though…


    Fire safety in Israel and in America are very different things.

    The buildings in Israel are made of stone and poured cement, and are not flammable. That is why they are not very concerned about smoke detectors.

    Once when I was in yeshiva, the heater in the bathroom started making funny noises and breathing fire on Friday night. So I used a hanger to shut it off with a shinui. When I mentioned it to a rebbi in the morning, he told me I should have let it burn. He said that the buildings are non-flammable, and fires are not considered pikuach nefesh in Israel.


    popa: I’m surprised at that. The building may be non-flammable, but the contents are very much so.


    If you have read the book “Who By Fire” you could find out how flammable the buildings are. In fact a whole family passed last year when a laptop caught fire. Be educated in your answers. Rebbeim may not be the best source for fire safety.


    This past year, a boy at the yeshiva in Mitzpe Yericho died in a fire. That is why I checked the smoke detectors at the seminary when I was visiting Israel and found that they were not working.

    It may be true that Israeli buildings are less susceptible to fire, but in a building packed with girls and their belongings, as well as cooking facilities, a fire could still be very dangerous. I actually think that the difference between Israel and America has more to do with attitudes toward safety rather than differences in building construction.

    In my e-mails I mentioned the tragedy in Mitzpe Yericho. That is part of the reason that I find it so disheartening that they wouldn’t even respond to my e-mails.

    Other than my repeated e-mails to the seminary administration, I’m not sure what else to do.


    We had many, many, false alarms in my Yeshiva due to sensitive alarms, though to make up for it, it detected and blasted the alarm, when a massive fire took over our kitchen.

    popa- Trust me: Israeli buildings are pretty flammable. Also, consider that many Yeshiva and Seminary students do stupid things. In one case, I woke up in the middle of the night choking from smoke. One of my roommates didn’t realize that hookah coals aren’t meant to be disposed into a garbage can…

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