September is Campus Fire Safety Month

STOW, MA – State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey reminds us that September is Campus Fire Safety Month. Massachusetts has a large population of college students that fire officials and college leaders want to be fire safe whether they live on-campus, in Greek housing, or in private off-campus housing. State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “Students come to Massachusetts to learn from around the country and the world, and not all of them have received the same great level of fire education in elementary and high school as our students do through the Student Awareness of Fire Education or S.A.F.E. Program.” With COVID-19 related issues, fewer students will be arriving this year, but fire officials want every student to be safe and live to graduate.

Make Fire Safety a Priority When Selecting Housing
The Department of Fire Services is joining forces with The Center for Campus Fire Safety, Boston Town and Gown Association, and the U.S. Fire Administrationduring the month of September to urge college students and their parents to make fire safety a priority when selecting housing, whether they live on- or off-campus.

Keeping College Students Safe in On- and Off-Campus Housing
State Fire Marshal Ostroskey stated, “We need the help of both students and their parents to make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are still working and exits are still clear three months from now. If you’re old enough to live on your own, you’re old enough to take responsibility for the fire safety of everyone in the building.” Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms may be working on move in day, but disabled later by tenants, putting everyone at risk.

It Could Happen to You
In the last five years (2015-2019) there have been 3,019 fires in Massachusetts student dormitories, fraternities, and sororities, with two student deaths, five civilian injuries, five fire service injuries, and an estimated $1.4 million in damages. These tragic deaths occurred in substandard and illegal off-campus housing where there were no working smoke alarms, no working carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, and victims were trapped in rooms that had only one way out.

Ostroskey said, “Parents, talk to your adult children about fire safety, and look at their housing choices, especially if you are footing the bill. Contact the local fire department about any safety issues the landlord won’t address immediately, but don’t leave your child in a home without working smoke alarms for a single night.”

Best Roommates Evah! Smoke Alarms and Two Ways Out
In 2016, a group of fire chiefs, building officials, college safety officials and campus fire safety advocates met to share strategies for enforcing fire and building codes in off-campus housing. They launched a public awareness campaign about the importance of working smoke alarms and two ways out, called “Best Roommates Evah!” Go to www.BestRoommatesEvah.org for more information.

In a Fire Seconds Count
“In a fire, seconds count,” says Ostroskey. “Working smoke alarms can alert students to a fire before it spreads, giving everyone enough time to get out, if they have two ways out and a practiced escaped plan.”

“Remember says Ostroskey, “Best Roommates Evah! Smoke Alarms and Two Ways Out.”

For a quick list of resources and links to educational materials, please go to the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services website www.mass.gov/dfs and search on College Fire Safety.