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Campus and dorm fires

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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.

Best Roomates Evah! campaignBest Roommates Evah!
NFPA, together with fire chiefs, building officials, college safety officials and campus fire safety advocates launched this public awareness campaign about the importance of working smoke alarms and two ways out. Get more information and resources.

See It Before You Sign It
The “See It Before You Sign It,” campaign 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 a off-campus housing fire safety checklist, parents and students can make better informed decisions. NFPA is pleased to be partnering with Campus Firewatch, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. Fire Administration for this campaign.

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 (PDF) 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 - 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
  • 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.

When you overload extension cords, power strips or outlets, you are also overloading the circuit, causing it to heat up and catch fire. And don’t even THINK about using a two-prong plug in a three-hole slot either, which not only can cause a fire, but can give you an electrical shock. Play it safe and use only the required number of slots in an outlet or power strip.

See more more videos on campus fire safety: 

More campus fire safety information