Congress Passes Legislation Containing Key Campus Fire Safety Requirements

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed HR 4137, The College Opportunity and Affordability Act. Contained within this legislation were two key components that will require colleges and universities to report fire safety information that includes how many fires have occurred, deaths and injuries from fire, how many residence halls are protected by sprinklers and fire alarms, and their fire safety policies. In addition, they will be required to report how much fire safety training is provided to students. Another component will provide for the ability for schools to apply for matching grants for the installation of automatic fire sprinklers, fire alarms and other systems. A companion bill passed the Senate in July and the differences in these bills will be resolved by a conference committee before going to the President for signature.

“This legislation is a tremendous leap forward for fire safety across the nation,” said Campus Firewatch Publisher Ed Comeau. “Students and parents will now have access to vital information that will help them make an informed, fire-safe decision when selecting a school. In addition, this will be an opportunity for schools to showcase how they protect our nation’s future.”

The Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act, introduced by Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-8) and the Campus Fire Safety and Prevention Act, introduced by Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones (OH-11), were the basis for the language in HR 4137. “Representatives Pascrell and Tubbs Jones have long been strong advocates for improving fire safety across the nation and I commend them and their colleagues for their leadership,” said Comeau.

“I applaud the House for taking strong action today to address a hidden epidemic afflicting our nation’s college campuses,” stated Pascrell. “If these common sense fire safety disclosure requirements were in place years ago, many lives may have been saved. Fewer families may have endured the pain felt by the loved ones of the Seton Hall fire victims. I thank Ed Comeau and Campus Firewatch for their dedication in helping to move this resolution through both bodies of Congress.”

“I am extremely pleased with the passage of the College Opportunity and Affordability Act,” added Tubbs Jones. “This legislation will help break down the barriers, particularly the ever rising costs of higher education, so that Americans can obtain a college degree. I am extremely excited about the inclusion of a provision from my legislation, the Campus Fire Safety and Prevention Act, which would establish a demonstration incentive program within the Department of Education to promote installation of fire sprinkler systems, or other fire suppression or prevention technologies, in qualified student housing or dormitories, and for other purposes.”

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