Rooftop partying not worth social media glory
Students are advised by public safety officials to think carefully before participating in rooftop partying.
Public safety officials are saying that it’s only a matter of time until someone in London is killed by engaging in rooftop partying during celebrations like Western’s fake homecoming [FOCO].
“I was boots on the ground at [this year’s] FOCO,” said deputy fire chief of the London Fire Department, Jack Burt. “I saw about 30 people on the roof of a shed, and that roof was bowing. I could literally see that the roof was in a position that there was potential for an imminent collapse, and there were still people trying to get up on that roof. We ordered everybody down, people were compliant, they got down, but the reality is, if somebody hadn’t had said something, we could have had a serious injury.”
For years, rooftop partying has been synonymous with “brewfing”, a word originally coined during a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at a California university where a roof collapsed under the weight of dozens of people. The term describes individuals or groups consuming alcohol and/or drugs on rooftops during gatherings.
Recently, videos and photos of the activity have spread through social media accounts such as Instagram’s “Canadian Party Life”, which features imagery of reckless post-secondary student behaviour from across the country.
“I believe it has been increasing due to social media,” Burt said. “I think more people see it and everybody wants to have their moment of glory. But the reality is this is a very dangerous activity and has the potential to hurt and harm many people if not kill somebody.”
Western’s fake homecoming sees thousands of students crowding throughout residential neighbourhoods near the university to party with abandon at the beginning of the school year. It was at last year’s event that one student suffered a serious head and spinal injury after falling off a roof.
This year, three partyers sustained injuries in the same way, the most serious being after a young man was urged by a crowd to jump off a roof only to have no one catch his fall.
According to both Burt and Roxanne Beaubien, manager of communications and public relations at the London Police, the dangers of rooftop partying are two-fold.
“It’s incredibly dangerous to be out consuming alcohol on a roof for the obvious reason of falling off, and also roofs are not built to be able to sustain and hold up dozens of people,” Beaubien said.
In March 2017, London City Council passed a motion amending its public nuisance bylaw to include brewfing. Since it has been in effect, municipal bylaw enforcement officers can give out warnings or issue fines when they determine that a public gathering, including those on rooftops, is a nuisance party.
For Burt, the issue should be taken as seriously as possible.
“As a public safety professional, I just want to say if you introduce alcohol or narcotics, the potential for injury increases,” said Burt. “Literally somebody will die here in this municipality from brewfing at some point if it’s not corrected.