"Most college campus fires are tragic accidents that could have been
prevented with just a little knowledge and some common sense," said
Illinois State Fire Marshal David B. Foreman. "As students return to
college, I urge them and their parents to be mindful of fire safety
and hazards in their new surroundings."
Later this month, the
Office of the State Fire Marshal will officially kick off the "LOOK
UP!" fire safety campaign with visits to several college campuses
across the state. The campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the
importance of working smoke alarms in both on- and off-campus
Many fatal fires involving college students have four common
elements: missing or disabled smoke alarms, careless disposal of
smoking materials, alcohol consumption, and lack of automatic
Over the past eight years, 129 people have died in campus-related
fires across the country, according to Campus Fire Watch. In
Illinois, a Bradley University student was killed in August 2007 in
an off-campus fire in West Peoria.
Since taking office in 2003,
Blagojevich has signed several new laws to protect college students
from fire hazards, including:
A new law enacted
in 2004 requiring dormitories at all public and private colleges
and universities in Illinois to have fire sprinkler systems
installed in new and existing dorms by 2013.
A ban on smoking in college dorms, as
well as sorority and fraternity houses that are owned and
operated by a university, which was signed into law in 2006.
According to a recent National Fire Protection Association study,
carelessly disposed of cigarettes are the leading cause of fatal
fires in dormitories, fraternities and sororities. Fires started by
candles are the second major cause of fatal campus fires in the
Alcohol consumption contributes to fire deaths because it
decreases inhibition and impairs judgment, which can increase a
student's risk of not waking to the sound of a smoke alarm and
perhaps not surviving a fire. The National Fire Protection
Association 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. In addition, the association says that
while most homes and apartments, including rental properties, have
smoke alarms, nearly 40 percent don't work, often due to dead or
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Tips for staying safe in on- and off-campus housing:
smoke alarms in every room of an apartment or rental home.
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 out
of every building. A fire escape ladder can provide an alternate
exit from second- or third-floor rooms.
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.
Always notify the fire department before attempting to
extinguish a fire on your own.
extension cords and electrical appliances 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. Under Illinois law, all residences are
required to have a carbon monoxide detector within 15 feet of
any sleeping area if the structure uses fossil fuels.
candles unattended, and keep them away from items that could
easily catch fire. Be sure to put out candles before going to
Office of the State Fire
Marshal file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]