September Designated as Campus Fire Safety Month in Tennessee

Friday, September 08, 2017 | 9:10am

NASHVILLE – September 2017 has been declared Campus Fire Safety Month by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.  The declaration, supported by the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO), aims to raise student awareness of fire hazards and promote the need for fire safety in campus and off-campus residences. 

September is recognized throughout the United States as National Campus Fire Safety Month. Since 2005, nearly 400 proclamations recognizing Campus Fire Safety Month have been signed by the nation’s governors as well as resolutions in the U.S. Congress. Throughout September, the SFMO is stressing the importance of campus fire safety.

“We want all college students in Tennessee to live in a fire-safe environment,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “It’s important to know your fire risks and how those risks can be reduced. Proper awareness and education can prevent a tragedy.” 

According to Campus Firewatch, college-related fire deaths have dropped nationally from a high of 20 in 2006-2007 to two in the 2016-2017 academic year. The decrease is credited to the efforts being made by schools and communities across the country to protect and educate students about the dangers of fire.

SFMO data shows that two students have been killed in campus-related fires in Tennessee since 2000. A fire on the top floor of a residence hall claimed the life of a 20-year-old student at Southern Adventist University (Collegedale) in 2005. The section of the building was not equipped, at that time, with an automatic sprinkler system. In 2012, an early morning fire killed a 20-year-old University of Memphis student living in an off-campus apartment.

Many campus-related fire fatalities have common factors such as a lack of automatic fire sprinklers, missing or disabled smoke alarms, careless smoking habits, and the misuse of alcohol — which impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts.

To help students protect themselves from the dangers of fire, the SFMO is sharing the following campus fire safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Campus Fire Safety Tips

  • Look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.        
  • Make sure you can hear the building alarm system when you are in your dorm room.
  • If you live in a dormitory, make sure your sleeping room has a smoke alarm, or your dormitory suite has a smoke alarm in each living area as well as the sleeping room. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the dormitory suite should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • If you live in an apartment or house, make sure smoke alarms are installed in each sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the apartment unit or house. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the apartment unit or house should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least monthly.
  • Never remove batteries or disable the alarm.
  • Learn your building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
  • If you live off campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
  • When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out of the building quickly and stay out.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
  • Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or alcohol.
  • Check with your local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or chimenea.
  • If you smoke, smoke outside and only where it is permitted. Never discard cigarettes into mulch, vegetation or other things that could ignite easily. Don’t smoke in bed or when you’ve been drinking or are drowsy.
  • Burn candles only if the school permits their use. A candle is an open flame and should be placed away from anything that can burn. Never leave a candle unattended. Blow it out when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Check your school’s rules before using electrical appliances in your room.