Due to budget cuts, demonstration fire burns down Dudley Coe

by WILL HAUSMANN Sep. 23, 2019

Bowdoin College and the Brunswick Fire Department partnered last Wednesday to host a demonstratively smoky and less demonstrative demonstration fire on the Coe Quad. While the fire’s biggest success was asphyxiating everyone in Moore trying to sleep through their 11:40 class, most students seemed nonplussed by the fire, expecting something bigger, hotter, and more fiery. Luckily for the College, the fire “accidentally” engulfed Dudley Coe, a building that had been slated for demolition in 2020.

The actual demonstration fire was quite underwhelming; consisting of a sketchy tractor trailer, some couches and chairs peculiarly labeled “Moore 103,” and a couple of Thorne soda fountains as sprinklers. 

Multiple Harpoon sources reported they were disappointed, hoping to “see 20 foot high flames,” “watch shit blow up,” and “be shaking in my Blundstones out of fear,” at the demonstration fire. One confused student reported that when they returned to their room that afternoon, all the furniture had been removed except for their flame retardant blanket. A sticky note was left on the door, simply saying, “#RollCoeQuad @ 11:30.” Interestingly, the student’s furniture had been replaced with valuables removed from Dudley Coe, as if administrators with offices there knew of Wednesday’s accidental fire in advance.

The missing furniture very closely resembled the furniture incinerated in the demonstration.

In a statement to the Harpoon, the College said that Wednesday’s demonstration was “intended to kill two birds with one stone, teaching students fire safety and eliminating all evidence of the College’s involvement in the 2001 Enron scandal.” Instead, the demo killed many birds by saving money on the Dudley Coe demolition, getting an exciting fire demonstration, destroying the WBOR radio headquarters, and actually catching two birds on fire.

The demolition of Dudley Coe adds to a long and storied tradition of burning down buildings at Bowdoin, including Maine Hall and, most recently, Quinby House. “Burning Dudley Coe seemed like the best and cheapest way to demonstrate to students how dangerous fires in poorly designed, century-old buildings can be,” said a representative from the Brunswick Fire Department. “Just make sure you hide your liquor in a fire-proof box, because BPD can write your ash up for that.”

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