More than 70 students were packed into a Kansas fraternity house this week when a fire erupted on the third-floor living area. More than 30 firefighters responded to the blaze, which was initiated by the improper disposal of smoking materials, according to a story on FireEngineering.com. All occupants escaped safely.
The structure is no stranger to fire; construction on the bulding's interior two years earlier initiated a previous blaze. The residents escaped injury, but others who have encountered fire have not been as fortunate.
The Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS) notes that there have been 86 fatal fires documented in Greek housing, college campuses, and off-campus housing since 2000 that have claimed more than 120 lives. The majority of those deaths occurred in off-campus settings.
CCFS is urging students, particularly those moving out of the dorms and into a house for the first time, to exercise caution and heed the lessons of previous tragedies. Install and maintain working smoke alarms, practice escape planning, and tout the importance of fire sprinkler systems. "CCFS also wants to point out the necessity of fire sprinkler systems," stated CCFS President Paul Martin, who also noted that eight out of 10 fire deaths occur at night while people are sleeping.
Live in or nearby a college town? Now is the ideal time to start an advocacy campaign around residential sprinklers. See if your state has a sprinkler coalition and join forces with other advocates to educate the public on these systems to get them mandated in your community. Garner community support by having residents sign a sprinkler petition. Urge student groups on campus to champion for this issue by supplying them with the plethora of advocacy materials available on the Fire Sprinkler Initiative site. Educate them and yourself on the home fire problem and life-safety aspects of sprinklers. Student activists love a good cause. Let's give them one.