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Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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Fire Safety 101 for College Students


College living is often the first opportunity for young people to live outside of their home.  With all the excitement and anticipation of school, new friends, and freedom, safety often gets pushed to the side.  Fire safety could not be a more important issue at this juncture in life.

Fires occur all too often on college campuses across the United States.  Often, alcohol or drug use is a factor in the ignition and the inability to escape.  When a fire occurs, many are affected, whether they are directly responsible or not. According to a new report issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's United States Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated average of 3,800 university housing fires occur each year.  Annually, these fires are responsible for 25 injuries and $9 million in property loss. Access the full report here.

Community living comes with certain hazards.  No one is any safer than the least safe person in the building.  While it’s never popular to turn in others for their unsafe behavior, with so much at stake, it is a mind set all residents must share.

Consider the following:

  • Smoke Alarms Save Lives! – Smoke alarms and smoke detection systems are throughout campus residences.  Keep these devices in working order.  The life they save may be your own.  They are your best defense against fire and give early warning when a fire occurs, allowing time to escape.
  • Alarm Systems are There To Be Used – People are conditioned from an early age to “never pull a fire alarm.”  The truth is, they are designed to be pulled and one should never hesitate if a fire occurs.  Too often, a delay in warning residents results in dangerous situations. 
  • Respond To Alarms, Always – When the alarm sounds, always take action.  The fire alarm you ignore may well be the real thing.  It isn’t worth the chance.  Discourage people from misusing fire alarms so when they do go off, you know it’s likely the real thing.
  • Automatic Sprinklers…Not a Towel Rack – If your college residence has Automatic Fire Sprinklers, take care to keep them clear.  Hanging items from them keeps the water spray from controlling a fire.  When working properly, a fire in a room with a sprinkler will be controlled by that sprinkler almost every time.  That saves lives.
  • Cooking in a Dorm??? – Rules about candles, cooking, and other things related to flames and heat are for everyone’s protection.  Remember, you are no safer than the most unsafe person in the building.  Do you trust them with these items???
  • Fire Extinguishers – Fire extinguishers can be a good item, if you know how to use them and have had practice.  Just because an extinguisher hangs on the wall does not mean you need to use it.  Life safety is the number one priority so secure that first.  Only use a fire extinguisher if you feel competent.  The best choice may be to stay out and contact the fire department quickly.

Prevention Tips:

  • Learn your exits as soon as you move in.  Know two ways out of the building (without using an elevator).
  • Smoke alarms are required to be in rooms but you should still test them monthly to be sure they work.  Notify the facility manager if it isn’t and get it fixed immediately.
  • Keep automatic fire sprinklers free and clear to do their job.
  • Take fire alarms seriously, every time.
  • Only use fire extinguishers after all people have been moved to safety.
  • Cooking, the use of candles, and other ignition devices have rules for a reason.  There’s always someone who won’t be safe so respect the rules that have to be in place for everyone.

Portland Fire & Rescue reminds college students that YOUR SAFETY IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.  Remember, smoke alarms provide you time to escape should a fire occur. Fires can spread so quickly, so please understand the difference between safety and tragedy could be just a few minutes and every second counts.

 Portland Fire & Rescue

 We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

 August 11, 2011


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