The U.S. Fire Administration reviews and collects resources that can be used in public outreach activities to keep college students safe from on- and off-campus housing fires. Explore these materials to learn more about discussing fire safety with students, their parents, and campus housing administrators and staff.
Statistics to share
Since 2000, 86 fatal fires have occurred on college campuses, in Greek housing, or in off-campus housing within 3-miles of the campus. These fires claimed 123 lives.
More than 80 percent of campus fire fatalities occur in off-campus housing. This has a direct impact on the prevention, planning and response activities for fire and emergency services departments located near colleges and universities.
Where the fires occurred
What caused the fires
Source: The Center for Campus Fire Safety – Fire Fatality Data, 3/20/2014
Outreach materials from the U.S. Fire Administration
Download these free handouts on preventing on- and off-campus fires to reproduce and distribute in your community.
There are several specific causes for fires on in on- and off-campus college housing, including cooking, candles, smoking and overloaded power strips. For most students, the last fire safety training they received was in grade school, but with new independence comes new responsibilities. It is important that both off-campus and on-campus students know their fire risks and prevention actions that could save their lives.
Cook only where it is allowed.
Keep your cooking area clean and free of anything that can burn.
Keep an eye on what you are cooking, especially if you are cooking at high temperatures.
If a fire starts in a microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the unit.
Place candles in sturdy holders.
Never leave a burning candle unattended.
Keep candles away from anything that can burn.
Use safe flameless candles.
Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out. Never toss hot cigarettes butts or ashes in the trash can.
Use deep, wide ashtrays. Place ashtrays on something sturdy and hard to burn.
After a party, check for cigarette butts, especially under cushions. Chairs and sofas catch on fire fast and burn fast.
Don’t smoke when you have been drinking or are drowsy.
Keep lamps, light fixtures, and light bulbs away from anything that can burn.
Never use an extension cord with large appliances, like a refrigerator.
Do not overload outlets.
Use only surge protectors or power strips that have internal overload protection.
Safety tips to share with colleges and universities
Provide students with a program for fire safety and prevention.
Teach students how to properly notify the fire department using the 911 system.
Install smoke alarms and an automatic fire sprinkler system in every dormitory room and every level of housing facilities.
Maintain and regularly test smoke alarms and fire alarm systems. Replace smoke alarm batteries every semester.
Regularly inspect rooms and buildings for fire hazards. Ask your local fire department for assistance.
Inspect exit doors and windows and make sure they are working properly.
Create and update detailed floor plans of buildings, and make them available to emergency personnel, resident advisors and students.
Conduct fire drills and practice escape routes and evacuation plans. Urge students to take each alarm seriously.
Public service announcement
Social media messages
Copy and paste these messages to your social media accounts and ask your followers to share.
College students: take a moment to watch this campus #firesafety video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMQQhMztyuw - these tips can save your life!
Parents of college students: how fire-safe is your child’s off-campus housing? According to Campus Firewatch, four out of five campus-related fire deaths occur in off-campus housing. Two common factors in off-campus housing fires are no fire sprinklers and no working smoke alarms. We’ve prepared a list of 10 questions that all parents should ask about fire safety in off-campus housing. Please take a moment to review this life-saving information and learn more about campus fire safety at http://www.usfa.fema.gov
College students: take a moment to watch this campus fire safety video. These tips can save your life as well as the lives of those around you! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMQQhMztyuw
Fire Prevention and Public Education Exchange
The Exchange serves as a centralized location for national, state and local fire prevention and life safety practices and public education materials that organizations may wish to share with other communities. Visit the Exchange
Outreach materials from other organizations
The U.S. Fire Administration recommends the following organizations as trusted and reliable sources for free outreach materials you can use to help increase awareness about campus fires in your community.
Michael H. Minger Foundation. Downloadable resources to increase awareness about campus fire safety, including posters, handouts, videos, lesson plans and guides for fire safety educators and resident advisors. The Michael H. Minger Foundation works to raise the awareness and standards of campus fire safety for all students and also address fire safety issues specific to students with disabilities.
National Fire Protection Association. Statistical reports, fact sheets, a safety checklist, and tips to help prevent campus fires. The National Fire Protection Association helps to reduce fire loss through consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.