Ziegler fire sparks history of arson incidents

By Ryan Connelly

Ziegler Hall and Moore Hall are two of the residence builidngs affected by fires on campus.

On March 6, at approximately 2:50 p.m., an unidentified student called Public Safety about a fire in Ziegler Hall. When Public Safety officers arrived, they saw a corner of a flyer ignited on the females’ restroom door and handled the situation, according to Public Safety. 

“[The flame was roughly] three inches by a quarter of an inch on the flyer. No damage was done to the door that the flyer was posted on,” said Public Safety Capt. Jim Flatley. 

Flatley declined to release more information on pending investigations. 

“[When a fire sparks], we contact the fire marshal or the Township of Lawrence and then he requests the police response,” said Flatley. “We have to contact the fire marshal according to the New Jersey fire safety code.” 

On Feb. 1, a similar situation occurred in the same residence hall.

“The call came in at 1:29 a.m. for an activated fire alarm, on the second floor of Ziegler Hall,” said Flatley. “The officers responded over and an unidentified student informed the officers that there was something on fire in the second floor hallway. The officers responded to that area and the detective saw there was smoke but no sign of fire.”

This seems to be a pattern. According to Rider’s annual fire reports within the past eight years, there have been 12 recorded arson cases. 

In 2011, there was one on campus, in 2012 there was an illegal bonfire located in the back of campus and in 2013, a piece of paper was lit on fire in Conover Hall causing $10 in damage. There were no recorded incidents in 2014 or 2015. In 2016, there was one recorded fire, but 2017 was the year it went over the top. Ranging from Sept. 27 to Oct. 13 there were eight recorded fires over a two-week period, according to the 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. The damages added up to $107 at the end of the 16-day span.    

Although Public Safety is investigating, they’re not the only ones who can help. 

“Campus safety is a shared responsibility and we depend on the students to call us and say something,” said Public Safety Director James Waldon. 

Flatley and Waldon are both on the same page when it comes to the campus community.

Flatley explained, “This is now [the students] home, it’s their neighborhood, their residence halls. I grew up in a big city, and everyone knew each other, looked out for one another and took care of one another. That’s the type of atmosphere that we want for our students here. I think we have a relatively safe campus, a lot has to do with the community itself cause people do speak up.”

For anyone with information on the incidents please call Public Safety at 609-896-5029

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