Urgent Campus Fire Safety: 94% of Fatal Fires Occur in Off-Campus Housing


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Springfield, Ill – Campus Fire Safety Month in September brings a critical reminder to Illinois and campuses nationwide: prioritize fire safety in both on and off-campus housing. 

Governor JB Pritzker has declared September as Campus Fire Safety Month in Illinois, aiming to raise awareness and promote collaboration between universities, colleges, and local fire departments.

For students, college often means the first taste of independent living. This transition underscores the need for understanding and implementing fire safety measures. Establishing fire escape plans, ensuring functional smoke alarms, and adhering to safety protocols are pivotal in cultivating a secure living environment.

Illinois State Fire Marshal James A. Rivera stressed the importance, stating, “Fire safety must be a top priority for students, whether they reside on or off-campus. Parents should diligently inspect their child’s living space to guarantee the presence of working smoke alarms.”

An alarming statistic from the Center for Campus Fire Safety reveals that since 2000, a staggering 94% of fatal campus fires occurred in off-campus housing. Shockingly, Illinois has witnessed seven fatalities in off-campus fires since 2000, emphasizing the urgency of this issue.

At Millikin University, fire safety is paramount, with the annual Nick Project equipping students, fraternities, and sororities with essential fire safety equipment. This initiative, spearheaded by Sophia Schwalbach, who tragically lost her brother in a fraternity house fire in 2000, aims to prevent such heart-wrenching incidents.

Students seeking housing should prioritize locations with functional sprinkler systems, audible fire alarms, and working smoke detectors. Regular testing of smoke alarms and the development of fire escape plans with two exits per room are also crucial. Following safety guidelines for smoking and cooking is imperative, as is avoiding electrical overloads and adhering to local regulations for barbeque grills and fire pits.

For comprehensive campus fire safety information, visit OSFM’s website. Make fire safety a top priority during your college journey and stay safe.


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