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Letter from the Chief-College Campus Fire Safety

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dear Neighbors,

As many of our children prepare to head off to college, we know that no one is more concerned about their safety than you as parents. When they're with you, you make sure your home has smoke and CO detectors and you keep your house safe. But when they're living in a dormitory, frat house, or off-campus housing, it's a very different story. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, from 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 3,810 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks. These fires caused an annual average of 2 civilian deaths, 30 civilian fire injuries, and $9.4 million in direct property damage.

The Center for Campus Fire Safety reports an average of ten students die every year in college-housing fires. Most occur in off-campus housing; usually because such housing does not have to satisfy the same high standards as campus housing such as imbedded sprinkler systems. Most college fires occur at night and 88% are caused either by candles or cooking equipment.

Here are some ideas you should share with your children before leaving them at the dorm:
.Don't use candles. Period!
.Don't smoke (anything) in your room. On-campus housing will prohibit it anyway but frat houses and other off-campus housing may not.
.Be really careful with hot-plates and other cooking devices. Even a microwave oven can cause a fire if the popcorn goes in for 30 minutes instead of 3!
.If there's no smoke/CO detector in their room, go buy one and install it yourself before you leave for the drive back home.
.Make sure they've thought about an escape plan. Can they get out a window? If not, which way do you crawl once you're out the bedroom door? Have them think about this with you before you leave.

And, as you're evaluating potential housing for your "babies", here are some questions you should be asking the landlords/school administrators:
.Does every room and every floor have smoke/CO detectors?
.Are there two ways out of the building?
.Will your child's room have adequate electrical service without having to use extension cords?
.Does the building have sprinklers? This should be a deal-breaker.
.Is the building alarmed and is it connected to the local firehouse?
.Is the address clearly marked outside for emergency vehicles?

Parents have enough to worry about while their kids are away at school, we hope that with this list, it'll be one less thing on your mind! If your child has already gone back to school, be sure to forward this to them so that they can be aware of the steps to keeping their residence fire safe.


Stay Safe!
Dan McConnell
Chief of Department




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