When William Woods University junior Megan Tolias got up Wednesday morning, she was a criminal justice student.
But by the end of the day, she also was a firefighter.
Fulton Fire Department officials came to the college Wednesday and burned down a dorm room. There were a couple of twin beds, some laundry and posters on the wall — just a typical student hovel.
By the end of the exercise, the fake dorm room was no more. It only took a couple minutes before flames were impossible to stop.
Tolias wore 75 pounds of gear including a breathing apparatus. She was assisted by firefighter Scott Peterson in how to dress and use the equipment.
The fire was lit, and Peterson and Tolias waited five minutes before turning on the powerful water hose. That's about how long it takes for firefighters to arrive — maybe a minute less on a good day, but still long enough to kill someone.
"It usually takes four or five minutes before the fire department gets there," Lt. Todd Gray said. "A fire will double every minute. That's why it's important to call 911 right away."
Tolias, a junior, said she accepted when Peterson asked her to join the exercise. She listened intently and followed every instruction.
"As you can imagine, it was really hot as we got closer," she said. "My hands started to burn. My knees started to burn. You have to get out of there, guys."