Campus and dorm fires

Life on a college campus 

Going to college is an exciting time for students and their parents. Living in your new “home away from home” not only gives young adults more freedom to make their own choices, but it also puts upon them an increased level of personal responsibility while at school.

Whether you’re looking for a place to live or as you move into your new space, when it comes to on- and off-campus housing, it’s important for students and parents to keep fire safety top of mind.

Partnerships and campaigns

Campus Safety BannerNFPA and The Center for Campus Fire Safety are teaming up to promote on- and off-campus fire safety for students. Throughout the school year, we’re asking students to raise awareness around the hazards of fire and take action on their own campus. 

The 2016 campaign, which launches September 1 in honor of Campus Fire Safety Month, focuses on cooking fire safety and asks students: What kind of cook are you in the kitchen? Through an interactive quiz, students will have the opportunity to recognize unsafe practices and learn the appropriate way to cook meals that will reduce the risk for injuries and damage caused by fire. Two winners will be randomly selected to receive an American Express gift card for participating in the quiz.

Off Campus Housing Fires InfographicNFPA is pleased to be partnering with Campus Firewatch, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. Fire Administration to promote “See It Before You Sign It,” a campaign that encourages parents to take a more active role in helping their loved ones choose secure, fire-safe housing in apartments or houses that are not on campus. With checklists, infographics, social media messages and more, parents and students can make better informed decisions when looking for that perfect “home away from home” for the fall semester.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has created an off-campus fire safety infographic (PDF, 527 KB) for you to use on your website, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Just download the graphic (PDF, 527 KB) and place wherever you want to use it. Please link to the Campus Firewatch website.

Campus fire safety by the numbers
  • Structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks are more common during the evening hours between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m., and on weekends.*
  • In 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 3,870 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks*
  • In 2009 – 2013 86% of the reported structure fires involved cooking equipment.  83% of fires were specifically reported as contained or confined to cooking equipment*
  • From 2000 - 2015, 89 fires that killed 126 people have occurred on a college campus, in Greek housing or in off-campus housing within three miles of the campus. Of these:
    • 76 off-campus fires caused 107 deaths
    • 7 on-campus building or residence hall fires claimed 9 victims
    • 6 fires in Greek housing took the lives of 10 people
  • Of these 89 fires, 38 of them resulted from unattended cooking, unsupervised or improper candle use or from an electrical problem.**
  • From 2000 – 2015, more than nine out of 10 (94 percent) fatal campus fires took place in off-campus housing***. Three factors contributing to the majority of off-campus fires are:
    • Missing or disabled smoke alarms
    • Improper disposal of cigarettes (on couches and other flammable furniture)
    • A student’s impaired judgment due to alcohol

*Source: NFPA's Fire Analysis & Research Division
**Source: The Center for Campus Fire Safety
***Source:  U.S. Fire Administration

Also see: NFPA's fact sheet on dormitories, fraternities, sororities and barracks. (PDF, 39 KB)  

More campus fire safety information

For more great tips and resources, visit The Center for Campus Fire Safety’s student Web page

Follow us on the Campus Fire Safety for Students Facebook page and NFPA’s Facebook page.

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)
1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169-7471 USA
Telephone: +1 617 770-3000 Fax: +1 617 770-0700