State Fire Marshal’s Office Urges Care in Selecting Off-Campus Housing

Monday, August 17, 2015 | 03:59pm

NASHVILLE – Each year, college and university students living both on- and off-campus experience fire-related emergencies nationwide.

Since January 2000 through June 2015, there have been 170 college/university fire fatalities across the U.S. with a majority of those fire deaths occurring in off-campus housing, according to information compiled by Campus Firewatch. Those off-campus housing fire deaths had common factors including 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.

The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) is urging students and parents to choose fire-safe off-campus housing in order to reduce the risk of a fire hazard and prevent potentially life-threatening situations.

“The start of each new school year is always an exciting time for families and students,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak. “We urge families to keep the school year safe by choosing off-campus housing with proper fire protection before moving in or signing a lease.” 

To help parents and students through the process of selecting fire-safe off-campus housing, the SFMO is providing a handy list of questions that renters should ask before moving in:

1. Are working smoke alarms installed? (Preferably in each bedroom, interconnected to sound all if any one detects smoke)

2. Are there at least two ways to exit your bedroom and your building?

3. Do the upper floors of the building have at least two interior stairways or a fire escape?

4. Is a sprinkler system installed and maintained?

5. Are the existing electrical outlets adequate for all of the appliances and equipment that you are bringing – without the need for extension cords?

6. Are there “EXIT” signs in the building hallways to indicate accessible escape routes?

7. Does the building have a fire alarm system installed and maintained?

8. Has the building’s heating system been inspected recently (in the last year)?

9.  Is the building address clearly posted to allow emergency services to find you quickly in the event of an emergency?

10. Does the sprinkler system or fire alarm system send a signal to the local fire department or campus security?