Campus and dorm fires

The number of reported fires in the dormitory occupancy group increased 18% from 3,200 in 1980 to 3,780 in 2011. Fires fell in the range of 2,300 to 2,700 from 1982 through 1995, and then declined further in 1996 to 1998. Since 2003, annual estimates have ranged from 3,350 to 4,220.

Facts & figures

  • In 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 3,810 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks. These fires caused an annual average of 2 civilian deaths, 30 civilian fire injuries, and $9.4 million in direct property damage. Note: Dormitories include school, college and university dormitories; fraternity and sorority houses; monasteries; bunk houses; barracks; and nurses’ quarters.
  • Between 2007-2011, cooking equipment was involved in 84% of the reported dormitory fires; this includes confined or contained fires.
  • Structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks are more common during the evening hours between 5-11 p.m., as well as on weekends.
  • Only 7% of fires in these properties began in the bedroom, but these fires accounted for more than one-quarter (27%) of the civilian injuries.

Source: NFPA's "Structure Fires in Dormitories, Fraternities, Sororities and Barracks," by Richard Campbell, August 2013.

Also see: Fact sheet on dormitories, fraternities, sororities and barracks. (PDF, 39 KB)  

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Other resources

  • Campus Firewatch is an electronic newsletter focusing exclusively on campus fire safety.
  • The Center for Campus Fire Safety provides a place for those interested in campus fire safety to share ideas and learn from their peers.
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