Students at Michigan State University might be able to light up the night sky with couch fires – as long as they’re under control.
Fires throughout East Lansing over the years have provoked discussions about a designated area for students to burn furniture and other items. A liaison committee between MSU and the city of East Lansing discussed the impact of couch fires on the university and came up with several solutions, one of which included a controlled couch burning.
Students would be able to burn couches as long as the couch was in a pre-designated safe area. Captain Jeff Murphy of the East Lansing Police Department was not sold on the idea.
“Environmental problems and student safety are the biggest concerns with this idea,” Murphy said. “I’d hate to see East Lansing be known as the city that celebrates by lighting things on fire.”
CMU students shouldn’t expect to see a controlled burn zone on campus anytime soon. CMU Police Chief Bill Yeagley said he doubts this course of action would be an appropriate way to counteract the numerous couch fires that occur at semester’s end.
“It would not be an approach we would likely take,” Yeagley said. “It’s just not logical to me to designate an area for something like that.”
According to the Mount Pleasant Fire Department, it responded to 21 dumpster fires and 11 outdoor fires, including furniture fires, between April 28 and May 5.
The first fire occurred on Franklin and Gaylord streets on April 28, which drew hundreds of CMU students celebrating former football player Eric Fisher’s No. 1-overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Yeagley said his department was not the only one that was forced to deal with the fires last spring. Not only are the campus police involved, but so are the city and state police.
“The state police and sheriff’s department dealt with the fires off-campus, but our department made the most arrests,” Yeagley said.
Some CMU students have been contemplating whether the new pitch would actually work in Mount Pleasant.
Beal City sophomore Chaz Hook said he is unsure whether the idea could work, because the controlled environment defeats the purpose of burning things in the first place.
“I think it’s a lost cause, (because) people are just trying to start trouble and get the fire department to come,” he said.
Livonia junior Caitlyn Willyard, however, thinks the controlled zone could be beneficial.
“It would give people a good way to get rid of stuff they don’t want,” she said.
During the committee meeting, Murphy mentioned a preventative idea that would allow students to leave their furniture out on the curb for the city to dispose of.
“Bulk items left out on the curb for too long were the biggest contributors to the fires,” Murphy said.
According to Murphy, the bulk trash pickup and a “celebrate responsibly” campaign has already decreased the amount of fires in the East Lansing area.