ASSE Offers Campus Fire Prevention Safety Tips

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 3,570 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks in 2003-2006.

In light of the fraternity house fire at Illinois State University April 20, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the ASSE Fire Protection Practice Specialty (PS) are urging students, campus officials, and parents to be aware of important fire prevention safety tips. They have also made available free fire prevention and safety tip sheets for both on and off college campuses at

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 3,570 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks in 2003-2006. These fires caused an annual average of seven civilian deaths, 54 civilian fire injuries, and $29.4 million in property damage. In August, 2010, a fire at a sorority house at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., caused more than 70 occupants to evacuate, injured one woman, and caused more than $50,000 in damage to the building.

Though a number of student-related fire tragedies occur both on and off-campus, the majority of fatal fires occur off-campus. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), out of the 139 campus-related fire fatalities that occurred from January 2000 to the present, 84 percent occurred off-campus. Thus far in 2010, five students have died in off-campus fires.

“We want students to be able to finish their studies, not die or be injured in a preventable fire. Awareness about fire safety and prevention is critical to ensuring the safety and well-being of students living in on or off-campus housing,” said ASSE Fire Protection PS Administrator Walt Beattie, CSP, CFPS. “Off-campus fires are the most common, but all students need to be aware of the dangers associated with fires and how to react in the event of an emergency. No one wants to lose a child, brother, sister, or friend to a tragic fire.”

USFA notes that there is a strong link between fire deaths and alcohol—stating that in more than 50 percent of adult fire fatalities the victims were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the fires. USFA also states that in cases where fire fatalities occurred on campus, alcohol was a factor.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Fire Deaths and Injuries Fact Sheet, most victims of fires die from smoke or toxic gases, not from burns. Additionally, according to USFA, smoke inhalation alone accounts for 40 percent of residential building fire injuries. Smoke inhalation occurs when one breathes in the products of combustion during a fire. Combustion results from the rapid breakdown of a substance by heat, burning. Smoke is a mixture of heated particles and gases.

To help reduce risk of injury and death, residence halls should be equipped with properly operating self-closing doors that are not propped open, clearly marked exits, corridors that are kept clear and are not blocked, heating and ventilation systems that are routinely inspected and repaired for any deficiencies, and properly operating fire alarm and extinguishing systems, where required.

Simple actions such as not overloading extension cords, power strips, or outlets significantly reduce the risk of fire. Cooking safely, avoiding open flames, and correctly discarding of smoking materials are a few additional ways to reduce the risk of fire. Students should know where all exits are located and develop a fire escape plan for off-campus housing. Students living in on-campus dormitories or residence halls should follow all emergency evacuation procedures and participate in all fire drills. Know how to operate a fire extinguisher, fire alarms, and smoke detectors.

Download Center

  • OSHA Recordkeeping Guide

    In case you missed it, OSHA recently initiated an enforcement program to identify employers who fail to electronically submit Form 300A recordkeeping data to the agency. When it comes to OSHA recordkeeping, there are always questions regarding the requirements and ins and outs. This guide is here to help! We’ll explain reporting, recording, and online reporting requirements in detail.

  • Incident Investigations Guide

    If your organization has experienced an incident resulting in a fatality, injury, illness, environmental exposure, property damage, or even a quality issue, it’s important to perform an incident investigation to determine how this happened and learn what you can do to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of performing an incident investigation.

  • Lone Worker Guide

    Lone workers exist in every industry and include individuals such as contractors, self-employed people, and those who work off-site or outside normal hours. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies, inadequate rest and breaks, physical violence, and more. To learn more about lone worker risks and solutions, download this informative guide.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Download the guide to learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • The Basics of Incident Investigations Webinar

    Without a proper incident investigation, it becomes difficult to take preventative measures and implement corrective actions. Watch this on-demand webinar for a step-by-step process of a basic incident investigation, how to document your incident investigation findings and analyze incident data, and more. 

  • Vector Solutions

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2022

    November December 2022


      The Evolution of Gas Detection
    • OSHA TOP 10
      OSHA's Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for FY 2022
      Enhance Your Fall Protection Program with Technology
      The Future: How Safety WIll Continue to Evolve
    View This Issue