Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office
Nashville, TN – Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office reports that Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has declared September 2018 as Campus Fire Safety Month to raise awareness of fire hazards and promote fire safety for college students who live both on and off campus.
September is recognized across the United States as National Campus Fire Safety Month. Since 2005, over 400 proclamations have been signed by governors from across the nation recognizing September as Campus Fire Safety Month.
“Going to college includes many new experiences, like students living on their own and cooking for themselves,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak. “We encourage students living both on and off campus to practice fire safe behaviors in all aspects of their lives as they transition to living on their own.”
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that fire departments responded to an average of 4,100 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and other related properties from 2011-2015. Additionally, since 2000, 132 individuals have lost their lives in fires occurring in on-campus buildings, off-campus housing, or in Greek housing.
SFMO data records that two students have been killed in campus-related fires in the Volunteer State since 2000. A fire on the top floor of a residence hall claimed the life of a 20-year-old student at Southern Adventist University (Collegedale) in 2005. The section of the building was not equipped, at that time, with an automatic sprinkler system. In 2012, an early morning fire killed a 20-year-old University of Memphis student living in an off-campus apartment.
Many campus-related fire fatalities have common factors such as a lack of automatic fire sprinklers, missing or disabled smoke alarms, careless smoking habits, and the misuse of alcohol — which impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts.
To help students protect themselves from the dangers of fire, the SFMO is sharing the following campus fire safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):
- No matter if you’re searching for a dorm or off-campus housing, look for fully sprinklered buildings.
- Make sure you can hear the building’s alarm system from your room.
- If you live in a dorm, make sure your room has a working smoke alarm. If your room is part of a suite, ensure there are smoke alarms inside and outside of every sleeping area. For best protection, the alarms will be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
- If you live in an apartment or house, make sure smoke alarms are installed in each sleeping area, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the apartment unit or house. For best protection, install interconnected alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.
- Test all smoke alarms at least once per month.
- Never remove an alarm’s batteries or disable an alarm.
- Learn your building’s escape plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
- If you live off campus, have a home fire escape plan with two ways out of each room. Practice the plan at least twice a year.
- When smoke or fire alarms sound, get out of the building as quickly as possible and stay out.
- Stay in the kitchen while cooking. Never leave something on the stop top unattended.
- Only cook when you are alert—not sleepy or drowsy from medication or alcohol.
- If you smoke, always smoke outside and only where it is permitted. Never smoke in bed, when you are drowsy, or when you have been drinking.
- Abide by your school’s policies regarding candles. If your school permits candle use, place them away from anything that can burn. Never leave lit candles unattended—always blow them out when you leave a room or when you go to sleep.
- Check your school’s rules before using electrical appliances in your room.
For more information on fire safety and to download a free home fire escape planning sheet, visit tn.gov/fire