By Ed Comeau
A resolution recognizing September as National Campus Fire Safety Month has been passed unanimously by the United States Senate. In the past, this resolution was introduced by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), a long-time advocate of campus fire safety, in partnership with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).This year, Senator Collins introduced it on his behalf and was joined in a show of bipartisan support as original co-sponsors by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tom Carper (D-DE).
"This month, millions of students returned to college and university campuses across the country," said Senator Collins. "Designating September as National Campus Fire Safety Month is a timely reminder of the danger that fire can pose and the life-saving importance of fire prevention awareness and education."
First started in 2005, National Campus Fire Safety Month has grown each year with more campuses and communities doing fire safety education programs. Over the past nine years, 259 state proclamations have been issued, in addition to resolutions by the United States Congress, and this has raised awareness about the importance of campus fire safety among students, parents, campus administrators and fire departments.
"Education and awareness are two key components to fire safety," said Ed Comeau, publisher of Campus Firewatch, who worked with Senator Collins on this resolution and organizes the national Campus Fire Safety Month campaign each year. "With the real danger in off-campus housing, it is so important that students know how to prevent a fire and what to do if one should break out. I thank Senator Collins and her colleagues for their continued support and leadership of this important cause."
Since 2000, 162 people have died in campus-related fires across the nation, with four out of five of them happening in off-campus housing where a majority of the students live, according to information compiled by Campus Firewatch. The last fire death in a residence hall occurred in 2005, and the last fire death in Greek housing was 2006, but each year the toll in off-campus housing continues. Last academic year, 7 students lost their lives in off-campus fires, most recently in April when a Boston University senior, who was due to graduate in a month, was trapped in her third floor apartment with only one way out.
"Students have a lot on their minds when they are at school, and if there is one thing I would ask them to remember, it is to know two ways out, no matter where they may be, their dorm, apartment, friendâs house, a restaurant or movie theater," said Comeau. "You never know when a fire is going to happen, and knowing two ways out might save your life and those around you."
To learn more about National Campus Fire Safety Month and to download free campus fire safety resources, including videos, posters and guides, visit Campus Firewatch at www.campus-firewatch.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/campusfirewatch or Twitter @campusfirewatch.