Each year college and university students, on- and off-campus, experience hundreds of fire-related emergencies nationwide. There are several specific causes for fires on college campuses, including cooking, intentionally set fires, and open flame. Overall, most college-related fires are due to a general lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention. According to information compiled by Campus Firewatch, the great majority of student fire deaths occur in off-campus housing that lacks sufficient exits, missing or inoperative smoke alarms, and automatic fire sprinklers. Also, use of candles, careless smoking habits, and the misuse of alcohol -which impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts -contribute to off-campus housing fire deaths.
As the Fall semester approaches, colleges and universities are busy preparing for the arrival of new residents to their campus communities. Some will be first year students moving into the residence halls. Other arriving students will be moving off-campus and living on their own, some for the first time. For most of these students, the last fire safety training they received was in grade school, but with new independence comes new responsibilities. It is important that both off-campus and on-campus students understand fire risks and know the preventative measures that could save their lives.
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In cases where fire fatalities have occurred on college campuses, alcohol was a factor. There is a strong link between alcohol and fire deaths. Alcohol abuse often impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts.
Many other factors contribute to the problem of dormitory housing fires including:
According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are approximately 18,000,000 students enrolled in 4,100 colleges and universities across the country. Approximately two-thirds of the students live in off-campus housing.
There are four common factors in a number of these fires:
Questions to Ask Before Moving in or Signing a Lease - regarding Off-Campus Fire Safety