National Night Out sparks safety and community

By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer, Video by Grace Smith | Broadcast Reporter

A live dorm room burn added some extra heat to Baylor’s National Night Out event, which was filled with a variety of interactive activities and was hosted by Baylor Police Department (BUPD).

Tuesday’s National Night Out brought members of the Baylor community out to interact with the first responders who work to keep Baylor safe. Activities included a model dorm room fire, a cornhole tournament, a dunk tank, free food and a “Firefighter Challenge” involving an obstacle course.

The model dorm room burn served as the evening’s opening attraction. The model, built on a small trailer, contained typical dorm objects like a bed, curtains and furniture. Barely three minutes after firefighters lit a small fire in the room’s back corner, it was completely engulfed in flames.

Keith Guillory, a fire marshal with the Waco Fire Department, oversaw the demonstration. Guillory said he hoped the demonstration served as an example of why fire safety and prevention is important.

“It speaks to dorm room safety, living safety, even at home when they go home… checking on their family making sure smoke alarms are in place,” Guillory said. “And the response time to those fire alarms going off, making sure they’re responsive, they don’t stay in bed. If they do have an incident like a cooking fire or an accidental fire… things do happen, emergencies happen and we want them to respond properly to emergencies.”

Farmington, Conn., senior Mike Ambrosio said the speed with which the fire engulfed the room surprised him.

“It surprised me how fast… it went up in flames. I didn’t really think that it would be that quick,” Ambrosio said. “I’m probably going to check and make sure there’s nothing near my outlets or extension cords since I have a few of those for my apartment.”

BUPD police chief Brad Wigtil said the event’s goal was to cultivate trusting relationships among the Baylor community.

“We really like to get out amongst our community and have them meet us, see us in an environment where … we have fun,” Wigtil said. “The other big reason is to create relationships with our community. When you create relationships, you can create trust and that’s really important in law enforcement.”

Wigtil spent much of the evening getting dunked in what he said was his favorite activity.

“The dunking booth— I love that,” Wigtil said. “I get on there and it’s just a lot of fun. It just shows our community that we like to have fun; we’re people too.”

The Firefighter Challenge tasked participants with the challenge of completing an obstacle course as quickly as possible. Competitors unrolled and rolled up a hose and carried a tire back to the finish line all while wearing a firefighter’s typical safety gear.

Ambrosio set one of the faster times of the challenge at 1:50, and said that the challenge’s difficulty gave him a new understanding of the physical demands put on firefighters.

“It was definitely a little bit more challenging than I thought it would be. I guess I got more of a respect for what these guys do every day because you don’t really think about all the gear and all that weight it adds,” Ambrosio said. “I loved it.”