Going to college is an exciting time for students and their parents. Living in a new “home away from home” not only gives young adults more freedom to make their own choices, but it also provides them an increased level of personal responsibility while at school. When it comes to on- and off-campus housing, it’s important for students and parents to keep fire safety top of mind.
Campus Fire Safety Month
September is Campus Fire Safety Month, and that's a great time to review best practices and put these practices into action. Whether you’re a fire safety professional or safety educator responsible for campus safety, a student or parent, NFPA and its partners provide a wealth of resources to help you get started.
Partnerships and campaigns
Campus Fire Safety for Students
NFPA and The Center for Campus Fire Safety are working together to help raise awareness about the dangers of fires among college-aged students who live in on- and off- campus college housing. The campaign encourages students to know the risks including unattended cooking, candles, and the disabling of smoke alarms in rooms, and the preventative actions that can save their lives. Get more information and resources.
See It Before You Sign It
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, NFPA, USFA, and Campus Firewatch are collaborating on a national campaign called "See It Before You Sign It" to encourage parents to see the off-campus apartment or house where their child will be living before signing the lease. Help remind parents that safe off-campus housing includes working smoke alarms and two ways out.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has also created an infographic for this campaign for you to use on your website, blogs and social media sites. Just download the graphic and place wherever you want to use it. Please link to the Campus Firewatch website.
Campus fire safety by the numbers
- From 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 4,100 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and other related properties. These fires caused annual averages of 35 civilian injuries and $14 million in direct property damage.*
- September and October were the peak months for fires in dormitory properties, and they are more common during the evening hours between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.*
- Cooking equipment was involved in nearly nine out of ten reported fires in dormitory- type properties (87%).*
- From 2000 - present, 92 fatal fires have been documented that occurred on a college campus, in Greek housing or in off-campus housing within 3-miles of the campus – claiming a total of 132 victims**:
- 79 fires have occurred in off-campus housing claiming 113 victims
- 7 fires have occurred in on-campus building or residence halls claiming 9 victims
- 6 fires have occurred in Greek housing claiming 10 victims
- Of the 92 documented**:
- 14 were intentionally set claiming 22 victims
- 38 were accidental – includes cooking, candles, smoking or electrical claiming 51 victims ]
- 40 of the fires the cause was never determined – or the cause was not available at press time. These fires claimed 59 victims.
- From January 2000 – May 2015 smoke alarms were either missing or tampered with (disconnected or battery removed) in 58 percent of fatal campus fires.***
- 94 percent of fatal campus fires occurred off-campus***
*Source:NFPA's "Structure Fires in Dormitories, Fraternities, Sororities and Barracks" report
**Source: The Center for Campus Fire Safety
***Source: U.S.Fire Administration
It’s a fact, there’s not a lot of space in your dorm room or apartment but that doesn’t mean you should store your bikes, suitcases, etc. in halls and stairwells – and especially NOT in front of exit doors. You need these areas free and clear so you can make a fast escape in case of a fire. If stuff is blocking your exits, you could easily get trapped inside the burning building.
Candles are one of the leading causes of fire in both on- and off-campus housing and because of this, most colleges and universities won’t allow them in dorms. If you want to use candles off campus try flameless candles. They don’t cost a lot, they’re scented and come in a million shapes and colors. Buy them online or at your nearest home or pharmacy store.
Additional video on campus fire safety:
More campus fire safety information