Article by Katie Hoogerwerff – Sprinkler Division Contract Sales Representative
Eager students who are returning to their college campuses, and new Freshmen just embarking on the collegiate journeys often consider this time as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. While living in a new dormitory or apartment complex away from home gives young adults more freedom to make their own choices, it also creates for them an increased level of personal responsibility while living at school. It is crucial for students and parents to keep Fire Safety at the top of their minds when it comes to both on-campus and off-campus housing.
Luckily, September is Campus Fire Safety Month, making the start of the new school year the perfect time to review best practices and put them into action! It is important that students know their fire risks, and the preventive actions that could save their lives.
There are several specific causes of fires in both on- and off-campus housing:
- Roughly six out of seven fires in dormitories are started by cooking.
- Other common causes include candles, smoking and overloaded power strips.
- Fires in dormitories are more likely to occur in the evening hours, between 5 – 11 pm, and on weekends.
- Approximately 25% of all campus fire fatalities follow a party.
There are several precautions student can take on their own to prevent fires:
- Never leaving burning candles unattended.
- Be attentive while cooking,
- Practice electrical safety and never overload an outlet.
- Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out (or better yet don’t smoke at all!),
- Additionally, students and parents should look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.
Automatic Fire Protection is essential in college housing for many reasons, the most important being Life Safety. The primary purpose of fire sprinklers is to protect the lives of residents. Fire can spread rapidly in densely populated areas like college dorms. Sprinklers can contain or extinguish a fire in its early stages, reducing the risk of it spreading to other parts of the building and allowing occupants more time to evacuate safely. Sprinklers can respond quickly to a fire, often extinguishing it or keeping it under control until firefighters arrive. When sprinklers activate, they can alert the fire department automatically, leading to a faster response time and potentially minimizing the extent of damage caused by the fire.
In addition to saving lives, sprinklers can also protect property and valuable assets within the dormitory. This can minimize damage and financial losses for both the university and students. Many building codes and regulations require fire sprinkler systems in multi-story residential buildings, including college housing. Compliance is essential to meet legal requirements and ensure the safety of occupants. Some insurance providers offer reduced rates for buildings with fire sprinkler systems in place, which can lead to cost savings for the university and potentially for students.
Knowing that fire sprinklers are installed in their residence halls can provide students and their families with peace of mind, ensuring that there is an added layer of protection in case of a fire emergency. The presence of sprinklers can serve as a valuable educational tool to raise awareness about fire safety among college students, encouraging responsible behavior and fire prevention. Overall, fire sprinklers play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff living in on-campus or off-campus housing.