By Ed Comeau
Legislation has been introduced by United States Senator Frank Lautenberg, Representatives Bill Pascrell and Peter King that will provide grants to schools to deliver fire safety education to students. The focus of S750 and HR 1609 is to encourage schools to provide education to students for their entire academic career, not just while they are living in the residence halls.
Over 85% of campus-related fire deaths identified by Campus Firewatch since 2000 have occurred in off-campus houses, where most students live. Reaching these students with education about what they can do to live a fire-safe lifestyle will help protect them, not only while they are in school, but for the rest of their lives.
“I am proud to reintroduce the Campus Fire Safety Education Act with Congressman King and Senator Lautenberg,” said Congressman Pascrell in a prepared statement, a member of the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees. “This vital legislation will work to prevent tragedies like the catastrophic fire at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, in 2000. That fire killed three young freshmen and wounded 58 other students in a dorm on campus. This legislation creates a new competitive grant program at our institutions of higher education that will increase fire safety awareness among college students, help improve their fire training, and save lives. It gives colleges and universities the resources they need to educate their students about the importance of fire safety and help ensure fire-safe behavior during their time in college and beyond.”
“It is critical that college students have the tools they need to prevent fires and react swiftly and confidently when they happen,” said Senator Lautenberg. “This legislation will ensure colleges have the resources to equip every student with important fire safety training. Our hearts were broken after the fire at Seton Hall, and I’ve been proud to partner with Representatives Pascrell and King to help make sure such a tragedy never happens again. We’ll keep working hard so that when parents send their kids off to college, they know they are safe from fires.”
“It is important that our colleges and universities have the necessary resources to provide essential fire safety and fire-behavior education to ensure the safety of all our students,” stated Congressman King.
In March, 40 students, parents, fire officials and advocates met in Washington for the sixth-annual Campus Fire Safety Capitol Hill Day and visited almost 80 Congressional offices, advocating for these bills and others. This is a key effort in moving legislation forward, as well as having students, parents, fire and campus officials now contact their Senators and Representative, asking them to support these bills.
Information on the bills and links to contact legislators can be found at Campus Firewatch www.campus-firewatch.com/resources/legislation/.