Fire and Life Safety in Dorms and Greek Housing

Integrated Fire SystemsFire & Life Safety Updates

Be Safe This School Year!

August is here which means that millions of college students will be making dorms and Greek housing their home away from home for the better part of the next year. Moving into college housing can be an exhilarating change. But, it is important that you make sure to take all of the necessary safety precautions to ensure that you have a safe school year.


While fires in dorms are not every day occurrences, they do happen. These fires most commonly occur on weekdays between 5pm and 11pm, and at all times on weekends. NFPA reports that during 2011-2015 there was a per year estimated average of:

  • 4,100 structure fires.
  • 35 civilian injuries.
  • $14 million in direct property damage.

Out of the 4,100 fires each year, 87% of them involve cooking equipment.

General Safety Tips

For many college students, dorm living is their first experience living on their own. This can bring up a lot of new life lessons to learn. Below are some safety tips from NFPA that will help when picking out and living in college housing:

  • Look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.
  • Make sure you can hear the building alarm system when you are in your dorm room.
  • In you live in a dormitory, make sure your sleeping room has a smoke alarm, or your dormitory suite has a smoke alarm in each living area as well as the sleeping room. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the dormitory suite should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least monthly.
  • Never remove batteries or disable the alarm.
  • Learn your building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
  • If you live off campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
  • When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out of the building quickly and stay out.
  • Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from machine or alcohol.
  • Check with your local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or chimenea.
  • Check your school’s rules before using electrical appliances in your room.
Smoking Safety Tips

If you smoke it is important that you exercise extreme caution while doing so. NFPA recommends that you:

  • Smoke outside and only where it is permitted.
  • Use study, deep, non-tip ashtrays.
  • Don’t smoke in bed.
  • Don’t smoke when you’ve been drinking or are drowsy.
Candle Safety Tips

You should also think twice about burning candles in your dorm rooms. While you may want the ambiance and pleasant smell, an open flame is not ideal. But, if you do wish to burn a candle, NFPA recommends that you:

  • Only burn candles if the school permits their use.
  • Place the candle away from anything that can burn.
  • Never leave a candle unattended.
  • Blow out the candle when you leave the room or go to sleep.
Additional Tips

If you are living off campus in an apartment check out this blog post about Fire and Life Safety in Apartment Complexes.

Have fun and be safe this school year!

-The IFS Team