New Semester, New Responsibilities: A Reminder about Campus Fire Safety as Students Head into the New School Year

As the new school year draws closer, college students across the country are gearing up to return to campus, especially with in-person learning in full swing again. No matter if they are new or returning students, the journey back to campus marks new experiences and a new chapter in their lives. However, with new experiences and chapters, comes a set of new responsibilities. Now that they’re living on their own (or with a friendly roommate or two) students will be in charge of taking care of themselves, their living space, and their safety. It’s not nearly as bad or as hard as it sounds though, as there is an abundance of resources dedicated to helping them through this process, such as the annual Campus Fire Safety for Students campaign from NFPA and The Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS).

NFPA and CCFS work together every September for Campus Fire Safety Month to raise awareness about the threat of fires in both on- and off-campus housing. By putting relevant information in the hands of the students, their parents, and campus housing staff and administrators, the hope is to encourage everyone to share this life-saving information and take proactive measures to protect students from fires and make their living spaces as safe as possible upon their return to school.

Data from NFPA research shows that from 2015 to 2019, US fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 3,840 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and other related properties, causing a yearly average of 29 civilian injuries and $11 million in direct damages. The first two months of the school year (September and October) were the peak months for these fires, especially during the evenings between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., with 87 percent caused by cooking equipment.

Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA, and CCFS Advisory Council member, says, “It is important for [students] to review fire safety tips to learn how to prevent fires. The more prepared students are, the more we can do to reduce fire risk. Campus Fire Safety Month provides a great opportunity to share materials and action steps and foster a culture of awareness and preparedness about fire safety on our college campuses.”

Here are some quick tips from NFPA and CCFS to help students reduce the risk of fires and save lives:

  • Know and practice the building’s evacuation plan, as well as alternate routes.
  • Cook in intended areas only, and never leave cooking equipment unattended when in use, even briefly.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly in an apartment or a house. Ensure smoke alarms are installed in all sleeping areas, outside of all sleeping areas, and on every level of the apartment or house. NEVER remove or disable smoke alarms.
  • Keep combustible items away from heat sources and never overload electrical outlets, extension cords, or power strips. Many fires are caused by portable light and heat sources, like space heaters and halogen lamps.
  • Keep common areas and hallways free of possessions and debris. Never block exit routes.

As part of its continuing education about fire safety on college campuses, CCFS will host an in-person Campus Fire Forum, “A Look Back and Forward to the Future of Fire Safety,” from November 1 - 3, 2022. As part of the Forum, a special panel will examine the Boland Hall Fire, a fatal fire that took place in a freshman residence on the Seton Hall University campus in January 2002 and named one of the deadliest college fires in recent U.S. history. It took the lives of three students and injured 58. During the panel discussions, participants will explore and learn about the progression of fire safety education over the last 20 years, including research, advanced technologies, legislation, and more. Learn about the Forum and register to attend today. 

Find shareable videos, checklists, infographics, and additional information about the Campus Fire Safety for Students campaign at or on the CCFS website and its Share! For Students webpage.

Photo by Parker Gibbons on Unsplash

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Kyle Etter
Kyle Etter
Public Affairs Intern

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