Senate passes campus fire safety right-to-know bill

The Senate passed legislation Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) sponsored to provide students and families with crucial fire safety records of colleges and universities.   Since 1990, colleges and universities have been publishing crime statistics on campus thefts, assaults, and sexual and capital crimes, but fire-related incidents are not required to be made public.

“There is safety in information.  Parents and students need to know that college campuses are doing all they can to keep students safe.  We must take every step possible to prevent a tragedy like the Seton Hall fire from ever happening again.  This measure would give the public the information it needs to evaluate fire safety at colleges and universities,” said Sen. Lautenberg.

An important first step in increasing fire safety, the measure would require campus fire safety information to be made public and would provide a powerful incentive for colleges and universities to voluntarily upgrade their safety systems.  Highlights from the legislation include:

* Dissemination of statistics on the number of actual fires in each student housing facility, information on deaths, injuries and structural damage over the previous two years; and information about fire safety education, training provided to students, faculty and staff and any planned improvements in fire safety;

* Requiring colleges and universities to maintain a log of all campus fires and make this information available to the public; and

* Directing the Secretary of Education to identify best practices for campus fire safety.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) has introduced the companion version of the bill in the House.

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