Maryland State Fire Marshal
News Release Martin O’Malley Governor
William E. Barnard State Fire Marshal
SEPTEMBER IS CAMPUS FIRE SAFETY MONTH “FIRE SAFETY IS A PART OF LIVING” Some simple steps can keep college students safer from on and off campus fires. PIKESVILLE, MD (August 27, 2012) – The beginning of a new term means classes, homework, friends and parties. With such hectic lives, students often do not pay attention to one thing that could seriously injure or kill them: Fire. As a new semester begins on college campuses throughout the state, the State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard reminds students to take actions to protect themselves and their friends from the devastating effects of fire. An estimated 86% of fire deaths occur in off campus apartments and homes, which is where three-fourths of college students live. This is the primary reason why the State of Maryland has declared September as ‘Campus Fire Safety Month.’ “Unfortunately, most college students do not fully realize how quickly a fire can grow out of control,” said the State Fire Marshal “Studies have shown you have an average of three minutes from when the first smoke alarm sounds to escape the effects of fire. Students need to realize they are not invincible, fires do happen in campus related settings and they can take proactive steps to protect themselves no matter where they live.” 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 disposed of smoking materials are a contributing cause of fatal fires in all residences including rental properties where college students live. Students also fall victim to fires started by unattended open flame devices, such as candles. Page 1 of 4
Missing or dead batteries are the leading cause for smoke alarms not working properly. The influence of alcohol, although not condoned by college administrators, is sometimes a factor in college related activities. Studies show alcohol decreases inhibition and impairs judgment, which can increase a student’s risk of not waking to the sound of a smoke alarm and potentionally not surviving the effects of fire.
The State Fire Marshal offers these safety tips for both parents and students when heading off to college: • Check for the proper installation of working smoke alarms. These devices provide early warning no matter where the fire starts, giving more chance for escape. • Test smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries as needed. • Look for housing that is equipped with automatic sprinkler systems. Not every residence hall or rental property has them. • Know at least two ways out of every room and the building. • If smoking is allowed, designate an area outside. Properly dispose of smoking materials in sturdy ashtrays and ensure they are completely extinguished. Just in case, always check cushions in chairs and sofas for smoldering cigarettes. • If using extension cords, use only approved laboratory listed cords such as UL®, and don’t overload the electrical outlets. • Consider using flameless candles or battery operated lights instead of regular wax candles. • If using regular candles, never leave them or other open flame type devices unattended and keep combustibles away from their location at all times. Always extinguish the flame prior to leaving the room. • Cooking should only occur in permitted locations. Never leave cooking food unattended. • If using a barbeque grill, fire pit, chiminea or other outdoor open flame device, check out the local regulations beforehand. When these items are used improperly, an enjoyable time can quickly turn into a tragedy. For more information about campus fire safety related issues, please see the following websites: www.campusfiresafety.org www.campus-firewatch.com http://www.campusfiresafety.wikispaces.com/ (See signed Maryland Governor’s Proclamation for Campus Fire Safety Month on page 3). ### Media contact: Bruce D. Bouch, Deputy State Fire Marshal; 443-324-6876
Page 2 of 4
The Office of the State Fire Marshal is an agency of the Department of State Police dedicated to helping protect citizens from fire and explosion through a comprehensive program of education, inspection, investigation and fire protection engineering. For more information on fire safety call 1-800-525-3124, log onto our website at: www.mdsp.org/firemarshal and/or http://facebook.com/MarylandStateFireMarshal.
Page 3 of 4
Page 4 of 4