The beginning of a new term means classes, homework, friends and parties. With such hectic lives, students often do not pay attention to one thing that could seriously injure or kill them: The effects of fire. As a new semester begins on college campuses throughout the state, State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci reminds students to take actions to protect themselves and their friends from the devastating effects of fire. An estimated 87% of college related fire deaths occur in off campus apartments and homes, which is where a majority of college students live. This is the primary reason why the State of Maryland has declared September as ‘Campus Fire Safety Month.’ “Unfortunately, most college students do not fully appreciate how quickly a fire can grow out of control,” said the State Fire Marshal “Studies have shown you have an average of three minutes from when the first smoke alarm sounds to escape the effects of fire. Students need to realize they are not invincible, fires do happen in campus related settings, and they can take proactive steps to protect themselves no matter where they live.”
Campus fire safety by the numbers:In 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 3,870 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks*
In 2009 – 2013 86% of the reported structure fires involved cooking equipment. 83% of fires were specifically reported as contained or confined to cooking equipment*
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
Some simple steps can keep college students safer from on and off campus fires.
College students living away from home should take a few minutes to make sure they are living in a fire-safe environment. Educating students on what they can do to stay safe during the school year is important and often overlooked.
Look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.
Make sure your dormitory or apartment has smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on each level. For the best protection, all smoke alarms should be interconnected so that when one sounds they all sound.
Test all smoke alarms at least monthly.
Never remove batteries or disable the alarm.
Learn your building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
If you live off campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out of the building quickly and stay out.
During a power outage, use a flashlight.
Cook only where it is permitted.
Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or alcohol.
Check with your local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or chimenea.
Check your school’s rules before using electrical appliances in your room.
Use a surge protector for your computer and plug the protector directly into an outlet.
For more information about campus fire safety related issues, please see the following websites: