MHS Hosts Fire Survivors From Seton Hall

MHS Hosts Fire Survivors From Seton Hall
Posted on 06/06/2016

 Robert Ferrara and Yolanda Brandon from MSU; fire survivors Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos; and Deputy Chief Robert Duncan and Chief John Herrmann from the Montclair Fire Department.

(l-r) Robert Ferrara and Yolanda Brandon from MSU; fire survivors Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos; and Deputy Chief Robert Duncan and Chief John Herrmann from the Montclair Fire Department.

Seton Hall Dorm Fire survivors Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simons shared their story on Thurs., June 2 with approximately 350 Montclair High School students as part of the Career Internship Program's Seminar Series. Funding for this presentation was provided through Yolanda Brandon and Director of Fire Safety, Robert Ferrara of Montclair State University. "MHS would like to thank Deputy Chief Robert Duncan of the Montclair Fire Department for helping to bring this program to MHS Seniors, " said Assistant Principal John Jeffries. "We would also like to thank Chief John Herrmann (MFD), Mayor Robert Jackson, Councilor-at-Large Rich McMahon, and Township Manager Timothy Stafford for their participation in today's event. "

In the early morning hours of January 19, 2000, the lives of thousands or maybe even millions were changed as a result of a great tragedy. On the campus of Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, while most of the more than 600 freshman slept, an arson fire was started in the 3rd floor lounge of the 6-story freshmen residence hall, Boland Hall. As the fire alarms wailed, most students thought it was just another false fire alarm, like the 30 or more false alarms that sounded the semester before. No one had any idea that there was a real fire, let alone where the fire was or how to get out of harm's way.

Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simons, 18 year old roommates at the time, thought it was just another false fire alarm as well. As they took their time getting dressed, they had no idea what was simmering down the hall from their room on the 3rd floor. An inferno was brewing at temperatures near 1600 degrees and burning down anything in its path: sofas, carpets, ceiling tile. As Shawn and Alvaro opened their room door, a burst of black smoke forced itself into their room, causing them to quickly shut the door. Reverting to childhood education about fire, they got down on their hands and knees, opened the door and were swallowed by the black smoke in the hallway.

Alvaro and Shawn talk more about their ordeal of being college burn victims nationally at many colleges across the country. They also speak at high schools, as well as fire safety training or firefighting seminars and conferences. Their motive is to be advocates for fire safety and prevention so that no other students will have to endure the pain that they suffered. Also, they strive to be the voice of many burn victims across the country who may feel "trapped in their new skin."

For more information:

http://www.afterthefiremovie.com/

http://www.alvaroandshawn.com/

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