Imagine being inside a 40-by-20-foot room engulfed in flames, crawling on the floor to breath and feeling for a door to try to escape while being blinded by smoke.

Imagine being inside a 40-by-20-foot room engulfed in flames, crawling on the floor to breath and feeling for a door to try to escape while being blinded by smoke.

That's one scenario Gahanna Lincoln High School seniors found themselves in May 12-13, when the Mifflin Township Division of Fire hosted Student Government Days at Station 131, 475 Rocky Fork Blvd., in Gahanna.

About 250 seniors participated in a water-relay bucket brigade and learned about dorm safety in an effort to prepare them for life after graduation.

"We want students to be able to understand in emergency situations they have a lot of problems thrown at them all at once, and they have to make decisions quickly," said Chuck Wilhelm, Mifflin Township firefighter/paramedic and Student Government Days coordinator. "We teach them the history of the fire service. We didn't have fire trucks but a bucket brigade. You had to work as a team and take care of each other."

Fire Lt. Mark Hendricks placed masks over three students at a time to show them how difficult it would be to find their way out of a room that's on fire.

"Remember, if you stand up, you're dead," he said.

Students who participated in the May 13 drill couldn't find the exit.

"And there's nothing in this room to hinder your escape," he said. "When you enter a room, look for two exits."

Senior Austin Chrobak tried to find his way out by feeling his way along the wall, but he wasn't even close to the door when the drill ended.

"It was real difficult, high stress and confusing," he said.

Hendricks said 82 fires claimed the lives of 119 college studemts from 2000 to 2013.

"Fourteen of those fires were arson with 22 deaths," he said. "Don't be a victim."

Hendricks cited the U.S. Fire Administration, saying the reason for so many deaths is that students don't care.

"I'm asking you to start caring," he said. "Start asking questions. Your mom cares. Your friends care. I'm not going to tell you what to do. I'm telling you to be responsible."

About 4 a.m. Jan. 19, 2000, two students lighted a couch on fire in the hallway at Boland Hall, a 640-room freshman residence hall at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

"They had 18 false alarms that semester," Hendricks said. "Students became apathetic to the alarm. Many students ignored the alarm. Many student received burns from crawling through melted carpet.

"Picture yourself at home inside a pizza oven, trying to get the door open," he said. "Students had to jump for their lives. There were three deaths, 58 injured and many other students became homeless."

At college, Hendricks said, false fire alarms will occur.

"Be prepared," he said. "Get a duffel bag to put in clothes, meds, car keys and a Snickers bar."

A fire claimed students' lives in central Ohio a decade ago.

"It did happen 10 years ago in a house at off-campus housing," he said. "It was a birthday party. Someone lit a couch on fire on the porch. It killed five students."

Mifflin fire inspector Randy Hormann said about one in three people in the country will have a negative experience from a fire.

"Young folks are the least likely to have a plan in case of an emergency," Hormann said. "A fire starts small and gets big rapidly. Fire doubles in size every 60 seconds. The major causes and contributing factors to a fire in your demographic is alcohol and cooking."

Hormann said this is an era in which people have more distractions.

"We put things on a stove and don't pay attention," he said. "A lot of times, flaming food and beverages don't end well. A lot of people do get hurt."

He said a lot of dorms don't have the infrastructure to support routers and tablets so electrical power strips get overloaded, causing a fire.

"For $10, you can get a nice power strip with a surge protector," Hormann said. "When the draw is too much, a surge protector will trip."

The training ended with a video showing The Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island on Feb. 20, 2003, when 102 people died in six minutes during a Jack Russell's Great White concert.

"It's a video of those who paid the ultimate price because they didn't pay attention," Hendricks said. "Twelve years ago, there was a nightclub with pyrotechnics on stage. The curtains caught on fire. Everyone was thinking it was part of the show.

"In 30 seconds, people were looking for a way to get out," he said. "They're going out the way they came in. You have 300 people in that building. All are saying to get the freak out and panicking. A fire doubles every 60 seconds. It took one person to trip and fall.People behind were pushing to get out. They're scared."

Hormann told students to never ignore fire alarms.

"Don't be complacent," he said. "Know where your exits are; have an escape plan; keep hallway exits clear; and maintain working smoke alarms. A good majority of people would be alive today if they had a working smoke detector.

"Make safe choices and protect others from poor judgment," he said. "Your safety net is going away. You're ultimately responsible for your own safety."

Mifflin Township Division of Fire has partnered with Gahanna Lincoln High School for 30 years as part of the school's state and local government unit.

Mifflin provides fire and emergency medical services to the city of Gahanna and the unincorporated areas of Mifflin Township, responding to more than 8,000 calls for assistance annually.