TDCI, State Fire Marshal Recognize September as Campus Fire Safety Month

Wednesday, August 30, 2023 | 12:07pm

NASHVILLE — As Tennessee students, faculty, and staff members return to universities and colleges this fall, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (“TDCI”) and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (“SFMO”) recognize the importance of fire safety during Campus Fire Safety Month.

Campus Fire Safety Month is a national fire-safety initiative that raises awareness about the threat of fires in both on- and off-campus housing, puts relevant information in the hands of students and parents, and helps students make living spaces as safe as possible from fires and associated hazards. 

"Amidst the hustle and bustle of starting college classes, I remind Tennessee college students to focus on creating a fire-safe environment either on- or off-campus,” said State Fire Marshal and TDCI Commissioner Carter Lawrence. “Through education and awareness, Tennessee students can reduce their fire risks and prevent a tragedy from occurring.”

Fires occurring in on-campus housing can carry a tragic toll. According to figures provided by the National Fire Protection Association , between 2017 – 2021, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 3,379 structure fires each year in dormitories, fraternity houses, sorority houses, and barracks.

 “I urge Tennessee college students and their families to protect themselves from the dangers of fires that could occur on campus,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner Gary Farley. “Students should take seriously the safety instructions they receive from university personnel as they are moving into their homes away from home.”

Many campus-related fire incidents 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:

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 a working smoke alarm.
  • Learn your building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
  • If you live in off-campus housing, create and practice 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.
  • Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or alcohol.
  • Never smoke in bed or when you’ve been drinking or are drowsy. If you smoke, smoke outside and only where it is permitted.
  • 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.