Fire Safety on Campus

Make Fire Safety a Priority When Heading Back to School
The beginning of a new semester means classes, homework, friends and parties. With such busy schedules, students often overlook one thing that could ruin their college experience and kill them: accidental fires. The Manhattan Fire Department and Kansas State University Public Safety Chief Ronnie Grice encourage students to take action to protect themselves and their friends from the loss and injury associated with accidental fires.
Nationwide, 89 people have died since 2000 as a result of on- and off-campus fires and hundreds more have been injured, according to the Center for Campus Fire Safety, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing campus-related fire issues.

Campus Fire Safety Month
August and September are two of the deadliest months for these fires, and almost 80 percent of the deaths occur in off-campus apartments or homes, where 75 percent of college students live. This is one reason why the Manhattan Fire Department and Kansas State University have declared September as Campus Fire Safety Month.

Unfortunately, most college students do not realize how quickly fires can start. Studies show that you have three minutes, on average, from the first sound of the smoke alarm to escape a burning structure. Students are not invincible; fires do happen in campus-related settings, and students can take steps to protect themselves no matter where they live.

Common Factors in Student-Related Fires
Many fatal fires involving college students have four common elements: missing or disabled smoke alarms; careless disposal of smoking materials; alcohol consumption; and a lack of automatic sprinkler systems. Carelessly discarded cigarettes are the leading causes of fatal fires in all residences, including rental properties where college students may live, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Students also fall victim to fires started by open flames such as candles.

Drinking alcohol is common among college students. Studies show alcohol consumption impairs judgment and inhibition, which increases a student’s risk of not waking to the smoke alarm and perhaps not surviving a fire. The NFPA also found that more than 60 percent of adults killed or injured in smoking-material residential fires were either asleep or possibly impaired by alcohol. The NFPA also reports that while most homes and apartments - including rental properties - have smoke alarms, nearly 40 percent don’t work, often due to dead or missing batteries.

How to Help Prevent Fires
The Manhattan Fire Department and Kansas State University urge parents and college students to remember these fire safety tips when heading off to school:
  • Install UL-listed smoke alarms in every room of an apartment or rental home. Battery-powered wireless smoke alarms use radio frequency technology to link together so that when one alarm sounds, all of the alarms sound. This immediate response helps provide early warning no matter where the fire starts, giving more time to escape.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries as needed.
  • Look for housing that is equipped with automatic fire sprinkler systems. Not every residence hall or rental property has them.
  • Know two ways to exit every building. A fire escape ladder can provide an alternate way out from second- or third-floor rooms.
  • Properly dispose of smoking materials in ashtrays. After parties, check the cushions on couches and chairs for smoldering cigarettes.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it BEFORE a fire breaks out.
  • Use only UL-listed extension cords and electrical appliances-and use them properly. Don’t overload electrical outlets.
  • If the residence has fossil-fuel burning appliances, such as a gas stove or furnace, install UL-listed carbon monoxide alarms on every floor and near sleeping areas.
  • Candles are not allowed in any of the residential halls at Kansas State University.
  • Never leave candles unattended and keep them away from items that could easily catch fire. Be sure to put out candles before going to bed.
More Information
For more information about campus fire safety, including a safety checklist, visit the Campus Fire Safety website or contact the Manhattan Fire Department at 785-587-4504.