September 2012 marks the 8th annual National Campus Fire Safety Month campaign. First started in 2005 when eleven governors issued proclamations, it has grown each year. A letter, co-signed by 25 people who have lost loved ones in campus-related fires, is sent to the governors each year and, in 2011, 34 proclamations were issued recognizing the month, as well as a resolution in the United States Senate. For 2012, 23 proclamations have been issued so far, bringing the eight-year total to 223 proclamations, with more expected during the month of September. (A continually-updated list of states is available at Campus Firewatch.)
Since 2000, 155 people have died in campus-related fires across the nation with over 85% of them occurring in off-campus occupancies, as identified by Campus Firewatch. The number of fire deaths had been decreasing from a high of 20 fatalities in the 2006-2007 academic year, but, unfortunately, the 2011-2012 academic year saw the first increase in five years to 9 fire deaths.
- Common factors in a number of these fires include:
- Lack of automatic fire sprinklers
- Missing or disabled smoke alarms
- Careless disposal of smoking materials
- Impaired judgment from alcohol consumption
- Upholstered couches and furniture on porches and decks
Schools and communities across the nation are doing more to make students aware of their role when it comes to fire safety, that it is a personal responsibility to know how to prevent a fire and what to do if one should break out. These efforts include teaching incoming freshmen during floor meetings in their residence halls, holding demonstration burns of mock student rooms, fire extinguisher training and much more. Campus Firewatch will be updating the campus fire safety community on these efforts through its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/campusfirewatch and Twitter @campusfirewatch.
List of Campus Fire Safety Resources
To help schools and communities in their outreach efforts, Campus Firewatch has compiled a list of free resources that are available online through Campus Firewatch as well as links to other organizations that are focusing their efforts on campus fire safety. These resources include videos, posters, guides and much more, all freely available. Of particular note is a list of Questions to Ask for students and parents when they are looking at schools and housing.
Campus Fire Safety Tip-a-Day Campaign
In addition, Campus Firewatch will be launching its annual Campus Fire Safety Tip-a-Day campaign on Tuesday, September 4. Each weekday, @campusfirewatch will be sending out a Tweet with a campus fire safety tip that can be re-tweeted by schools, communities and news outlets to their followers. These tips will include information on smoking, candles, cooking, smoke alarms, sprinklers, and many of them will have links to videos and other information. Simply follow @campusfirewatch to receive this information each day.
“Campus fire safety is important during September and throughout the year,” said Ed Comeau, publisher of Campus Firewatch. “This is an opportunity to teach a new generation what they can do to be safe, not only during the time they are in college, but for the rest of their lives. What they learn may save their life today, tomorrow or someday in the future. After all, fire safety, it’s a part of living!”