NFPA, Campus Firewatch, CPSC, and USFA promote See It Before You Sign It fire safety campaign to reduce off-campus fire deaths at U.S. colleges

94 percent of fatal campus fires occurred in off-campus housing from 2000-2015

April 4, 2016 – As part of an effort to help reduce fire deaths on U.S. college campuses, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Campus Firewatch, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) are teaming up to promote See It Before You Sign It, a campaign aimed at parents and college students to raise awareness about off-campus housing fire hazards. The campaign provides information and action steps for families currently searching for off-campus housing for the fall term.

“The spring is when students are looking for off-campus housing for the upcoming fall semester,” said Ed Comeau, publisher, Campus Firewatch. “They talk to friends and scour online resources to find that perfect place to live. The only problem is, that “perfect” place may not be the ‘safest’ place.”

Having important fire safety features in the home is often overlooked by students who are more interested in finding housing that is inexpensive, close to campus or provides them with their own bedroom. The See It Before You Sign It campaign encourages parents to bridge that knowledge gap and take a more active role in helping their loved ones choose secure, fire-safe housing. Recommendations include visiting locations before any lease is signed or if parents can’t physically be present at a site visit, taking a virtual tour of the apartment or house to ensure that the most informed decision is being made with fire safety in mind.

In a recent USFA report, from 2000 through 2015, 85 fatal fires occurred in dormitories, fraternities, sororities and off-campus housing, resulting in 118 student fatalities, an average of approximately seven per school year. More than nine out of 10 (94 percent) fatal campus fires took place in off-campus housing. USFA identified three factors contributing to the majority of off-campus fires:

  • Missing or disabled smoke alarms
  • Improper disposal of cigarettes (on couches and other flammable furniture)
  • A student’s impaired judgment due to alcohol
Campus Firewatch, NFPA and The Center for Campus Fire Safety have created free, easy-to-download checklists to help guide parents and students when choosing housing for the school year, including how to evaluate a potential location, and questions to ask landlords and school officials about fire safety on- and off-campus.

Visit the See it Before You Sign It webpage for more information about the campaign. Additional information including off-campus and dorm fire safety tips infographics, social media messages and images, and checklists, can be found on the Campus Firewatch, Consumer Product Safety Council, U.S. Fire Administration and NFPA websites. Follow the campaign on Twitter at #OffCampusFire.

About Campus Firewatch
Campus Firewatch is a social entrepreneurship focused on helping save lives at our nation’s campuses. Facebook | @campusfirewatch

About the Consumer Product Safety Council
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to help ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals -– contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

About the U.S. Fire Administration
As an entity of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency, the mission of the U.S. Fire Administration is to provide national leadership to foster a solid foundation for our fire and emergency services stakeholders in prevention, preparedness and response.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information visit All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at

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Campus Firewatch
Ed Comeau
+1 413 296-1982

Consumer Product Safety Commission
Patty Davis
+1 301 504-7601

National Fire Protection Association
Lorraine Carli
+1 617 984-7275

United States Fire Administration
Timothy Patrick O’Dowd
+1 301 447-1091