Campus Fire Safety

Safety tips for students

Candles

  • Make sure candles are in sturdy holders and put out after each use.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.
  • Keep candles away from draperies and linens.
  • Use flameless candles which are both safe and attractive.
  • Learn About Candle Safety »

Cooking

  • Cook only where it is permitted.
  • Keep your cooking area clean and uncluttered.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • If a fire starts in a microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the unit.
  • Learn About Cooking Fire Safety »

Smoking

  • Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.
  • Use deep, wide ashtrays. Place ashtrays on something sturdy and hard to ignite.
  • After a party, check for cigarette butts, especially under cushions. Chairs and sofas catch on fire fast and burn fast.
  • It is risky to smoke when you have been drinking or are drowsy.
  • Learn About Smoking Safety »

Escape planning

  • Get low and go under the smoke to escape to your safe exit.
  • Feel the door. If it's hot, use your second way out.
  • Use the stairs; never use an elevator during a fire.
  • Practice your escape plan. Always have two ways out.
  • Learn About Escape Planning »

Off-campus fire safety

Good questions to ask before moving in or signing a lease

  1. Are working smoke alarms installed? (Preferably in each bedroom, interconnected to sound all if any one detects smoke)
  2. Are there at least two ways to exit your bedroom and your building?
  3. Do the upper floors of the building have at least two interior stairs, or a fire escape?
  4. Is a sprinkler system installed and maintained?
  5. Are the existing electrical outlets adequate for all of the appliances, computers, printers and electronics that you are bringing – without the need for extension cords?
  6. Are there EXIT signs in the building hallways to indicate accessible escape routes?
  7. Does the building have a fire alarm system installed and maintained?
  8. Has the buildings heating system been inspected recently (in the last year)?
  9. Is the building address clearly posted to allow emergency services to find you quickly in the event of an emergency?
  10. Does the sprinkler system or fire alarm system send a signal to the local fire department and/or campus security?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are approximately 18,000,000 students enrolled in 4,100 colleges and universities across the country. Since the 2000 academic year, 86% of the campus-related fire fatalities have occurred in off-campus housing where approximately two-thirds of students live.

There are five common factors in a number of these fires:

  • Lack of automatic fire sprinklers
  • Missing or disabled smoke alarms
  • Careless disposal of smoking materials
  • Impaired judgment from alcohol consumption
  • Upholstered furniture fires on decks and porches

Source: Campus-Firewatch

On-campus fire safety

In cases where fire fatalities have occurred on college campuses, alcohol was a factor. There is a strong link between alcohol and fire deaths. Alcohol abuse often impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts.

Many other factors contribute to the problem of dormitory housing fires including:

  • Improper use of 911 notification systems delays emergency response.
  • Student apathy is prevalent. Many are unaware that fire is a risk or threat in the environment.
  • Evacuation efforts are hindered since fire alarms are often ignored.
  • Building evacuations are delayed due to lack of preparation and preplanning.
  • Vandalized and improperly maintained smoke alarms and fire alarm systems inhibit early detection of fires.
  • Misuse of cooking appliances, overloaded electrical circuits, and extension cords increase the risk of fires.

Safety precautions for colleges and universities

  • Provide students with a program for fire safety and prevention.
  • Teach students how to properly notify the fire department using the 911 system.
  • Install smoke alarms and an automatic fire sprinkler system in every dormitory room and every level of housing facilities.
  • Maintain and regularly test smoke alarms and fire alarm systems. Replace smoke alarm batteries every semester.
  • Regularly inspect rooms and buildings for fire hazards. Ask your local fire department for assistance.
  • Inspect exit doors and windows and make sure they are working properly.
  • Create and update detailed floor plans of buildings, and make them available to emergency personnel, resident advisors and students.
  • Conduct fire drills and practice escape routes and evacuation plans. Urge students to take each alarm seriously.
  • Make sure electrical outlets and power strips are not overloaded and extension cords are used properly.
  • Learn to properly use and maintain heating and cooking appliances.