Providence firefighters offer fire safety tips to college students

By April 21, 2016Fire Safety, NFPA

Photo is part of a video produced by WPRI/Providence

Providence, Rhode Island firefighters are urging college students who live in the city to practice fire safety as the school term comes to a close, according to WPRI Eyewitness News. Sources state that Providence has experienced a series of fires recently that have displaced students who are living in dorms and in off-campus housing. The leading cause of all fires? Cooking.

In a recent U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) report, from 2000 through 2015, 85 fatal fires occurred in dormitories, fraternities, sororities and off-campus housing, resulting in 118 student fatalities, an average of approximately seven per school year. More than nine out of 10 (94 percent) fatal campus fires took place in off-campus housing.

The good news is, according to Providence Fire Department Acting Fire Marshal, Peter McMichael, most of the campus housing in Rhode Island is up to code, and colleges and universities have contributed increased resources and funding to keep buildings safe for students. 

Still, the biggest concern for the fire service now is off-campus housing. As the spring terms comes to a close and students leave their dorms to move off campus in apartments that are not overseen by colleges, safeguards may not always be in place. McMichael strongly urges students and their parents to ask more questions before moving into such residences. Questions like:

  • Are there two ways out of the house?
  • Is there a smoke detector outside of the bedroom(s)? 

This fire safety news out of Providence is heartening, and timely as NFPA is partnering with Campus Firewatch, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and USFA to promote a campaign called "See it Before You Sign it" that encourages parents to take a more active role in helping their loved ones choose secure, fire-safe housing in apartments or houses that are not on campus. 

Learn more about the campaign and take a look at the checklists, infographics, social media messages and more that can help students and parents make better informed decisions when looking for that perfect “home away from home” for the fall semester. And don't forget, you can download the resources for free and share them with friends and neighbors, too!