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ASSE Urges Students to Practice Fire Safety
September 16, 2008

Each year many students lose their lives or are injured in preventable fires. As students move into college residence halls, off-campus housing or fraternity/sorority houses for the school year, the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Fire Protection Practice Specialty (PS) urges them to be aware of life-saving fire prevention knowledge. ASSE has prepared and is distributing free fire safety tip sheets and a flier with information on how students can stay safe.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 3,300 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks in 2002-2005. These fires caused an annual average of seven civilian deaths, 46 civilian fire injuries and $25 million in property damage. In addition, fires in dormitories or dormitory-related buildings have increased by three percent from 1980 to 2005.

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. And, according to the USFA, smoke inha­lation alone accounts for 39 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.

With that said, each residence hall should be equipped with properly operating doors with self-closers 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, and equipped where required.

On and off-campus fires can be prevented by implementation of sound fire safety activities such as not overloading extension cords, power strips or outlets; cooking safely; avoiding open flames, and; correctly discarding smoking materials. Injuries and fatalities can be avoided by developing a fire escape plan; having and knowing how to work fire extinguishers, escape ladders and fire alarms and detectors; as well as knowing where exists are located. ASSE is providing free fire safety tips on statistics, prevention tips, fire escape planning, fire safety equipment for off-campus and Greek housing, information on recent incidents, a parents guide to fire safety: what you need to know when your child leaves home for college, a list of key resources, and an on/off campus fire safety flyer. These are available online under on/off campus fire safety tips.

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