By Ed Comeau
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (Illinois proclamation and Wisconsin proclamation) are the first two governors to sign proclamations in 2013 recognizing September as Campus Fire Safety Month. Since this project started in 2005, 230 proclamations have been issued by governors as well as resolutions in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. These proclamations are in response to a letter co-signed by twenty-seven people who lost loved ones in campus-related fires that is sent to the governors each year.
Since 2000, 161 people have died in campus-related fires across the nation, with 85% of these deaths in off-campus housing where about two-thirds of the students live. Six people have been killed in fires this academic year in Eau Claire, Wisconsin; St. Cloud, Minnesota; Cincinnati, Ohio and, most recently, in Amherst, Massachusetts. By designating September as Campus Fire Safety Month, it helps bring attention to the importance of teaching today’s generation of students about how they can prevent fires and what to do if one should break out, no matter where they are.
These students are in school to learn skills and gain knowledge that will guide them for the rest of their lives. By teaching them about fire safety, they will learn how to prevent fires and the importance of both smoke alarms and sprinkler systems where they live and work, for the rest of their lives. This will help to build a fire-safe generation for today and tomorrow.
Information on Campus Fire Safety Month is available online at Campus Firewatch, including a list of states that have issued proclamations since 2005 as well as a copy of the letter sent to the governors and model language for proclamations.
Proclamation Suggested Language
To express the support of the establishment of September as Campus Fire Safety Month, and for other purposes.
Whereas recent student-related housing fires in Wisconsin, Kansas, Indiana, Minnesota, Maryland, California, New York and Michigan and other schools across the country have tragically cut short the lives of some of the youth of our Nation;
Whereas since January 2000, at least 161 people, including students, parents, and children have died in campus-related fires;
Whereas approximately 85 percent of these deaths have occurred in off-campus occupancies;
Whereas a majority of the students across the Nation live in off-campus occupancies;
Whereas a number of fatal fires have occurred in buildings where the fire safety systems have been compromised or disabled by the occupants;
Whereas it is recognized that automatic fire alarm systems and smoke alarms provide the necessary early warning to occupants and the fire department of a fire so that appropriate action can be taken;
Whereas it is recognized that automatic fire sprinkler systems are a highly effective method of controlling or extinguishing a fire in its early stages, protecting the lives of the building’s occupants;
Whereas many students are living in off-campus occupancies, Greek housing, and residence halls that are not adequately protected with automatic fire sprinkler systems and automatic fire alarm systems or adequate smoke alarms;
Whereas it is recognized that fire safety education is an effective method of reducing the occurrence of fires and reducing the resulting loss of life and property damage;
Whereas students are not routinely receiving effective fire safety education throughout their entire college career;
Whereas it is vital to educate the future generation of our Nation about the importance of fire safety behavior so that these behaviors can help to ensure their safety during their college years and beyond; and
Whereas by developing a generation of fire-safe adults, future loss of life from fires can be significantly reduced: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Governor—
(1) supports the establishment of September as Campus Fire Safety Month;
(2) encourages schools and municipalities across the country to provide educational programs to all students during September and throughout the school year; and
(3) encourages schools and municipalities to evaluate the level of fire safety being provided in both on- and off-campus student housing and take the necessary steps to ensure fire-safe living environments through fire safety education, installation of fire suppression and detection systems and smoke alarms and the development and enforcement of applicable codes relating to fire safety.