Author(s): Lisa Braxton. Published on July 1, 2012.

Team Effort
The 2011 Jensen grant winner

NFPA Journal, July/August 2012 

On a Friday afternoon last April, the College Station Fire Department in Texas responded to a blaze at Cripple Creek Condominiums, a housing complex that was home to several Texas A&M University students. High winds fed the rapidly moving fire, which took firefighters hours to get under control. Fourteen of the complex’s 16 units were badly damaged, with property damage in excess of $600,000. One person was cut by broken glass. Investigators traced the fire to discarded smoking materials.


2011 Jensen grant winner: College Station (Texas) Fire Department.


May - June 2012
Using focus groups to determine a community’s fire safety needs

March - April 2012
A new partnership with LEGOLAND Florida brings fire safety to the masses

January - February 2012
Things to consider when teaching young children about fire safety 

November - December 2011
A “social media holdout” urges us to follow along on Twitter 

September - October 2011
Fire Prevention Week is the longest-running U.S. public safety observance

July - August 2011
Why firefighters need to know if they are responding to persons with developmental disabilities

The fire occurred just a month before the department was awarded the 2011 Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant, to support its Rental Housing Fire Reduction Education Program for the college community. Off-campus rentals provide housing to more than 40,000 students who attend Texas A&M University and Blinn College. The fire department teamed up with the Bryan-College Station Apartment Association, the Texas A&M Department of Student Life, and more than a dozen other project partners, including Cripple Creek Condominiums, to develop the program.

The $5,000 Jensen grant is presented each year by NFPA to a local fire department in the United States or Canada to support a community-wide fire and life safety education program or campaign. The College Station Fire Department used the grant to create fire safety education training for property managers, landlords, and building owners using NFPA website videos, DVDs, brochures, tip sheets, and talking points. Rental managers and off-campus leaders, such as sorority and fraternity house directors, took the training to students.

A public service announcement aired on local television. In the spot, a talking smoke alarm with a low battery encouraged renters to check him once a month and change his battery if needed. In addition, educational messages were posted on social networking sites. During “walks and talks” coordinated with the Texas A&M Department of Student Life, fire safety information was distributed in rental neighborhoods.

Cindy Giedraitis, public education officer for the College Station Fire Department, assembled giveaways for students that included fire department contact information and catchy fire safety messages. Emery boards and sticky-note pads read, “You check facebook. Do you check your smoke alarm?” Bandage dispensers stated, “We make house calls. Is your smoke alarm working?” Drink coasters with an illustration of a crossed-out lit cigarette read, “Just because you’re done smoking doesn’t mean it’s out.”

Through this multifaceted, cooperative campaign, the fire department’s PSA program has reached more than 2,500 students in person at student conferences, fire safety events, and fire drills, and more than 40,000 households. College Station Fire Department officials say they look forward to developing statistics indicating the long-term impact of the rental housing PSA program.

The application deadline for the next Jensen grant is February 8, 2013. For more information, visit To get a Campus Safety Tip Sheet (PDF, 1 MB) that covers both on- and off-campus housing, visit and click on “safety tip sheets.”

Lisa Braxton is project manager for NFPA's Public Education Divison.