Campus Housing & Dormitories

College and university students experience a growing number of fire-related emergencies. Students living away from home should take a few minutes to make sure they are living in a fire-safe environment. Educating students on what they can do to stay safe during the school year is important and often overlooked.

  • Cooking is the leading cause of fire injuries on college campuses (65%) due to misuse of cooking appliances, overloaded electrical currents, and extension cords; closely followed by careless smoking and arson.
  • Nine percent of fires started in a bedroom, but these fires were responsible for 22% of the injuries. Three percent of fires began in the lavatory, bathroom, or locker room; and 3% began in a hallway or corridor.
  • There is a strong correlation between alcohol and fire deaths. In more than 50% of adult fire fatalities, victims were under the influence at the time of the fire. Alcohol abuse often impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts.

Other Factors That Contribute to Campus Housing Fires

  • Improper use of 911 notification system delayed emergency response.
  • Student apathy–Many students are unaware that fire is a risk or threat in the environment.
  • Evacuation efforts are hindered since fire alarms are often ignored.
  • Building evacuations are delayed due to lack of preparation and pre-planning.
  • Vandalized or improperly maintained smoke alarm and fire alarm systems inhibit early detection of fires.

Safety Precautions

  • Provide students with a program for fire safety and prevention.
  • Teach students how to properly notify the fire department using the 911 system.
  • Install smoke alarms in every dormitory room and every level of the housing facilities.
  • Maintain and regularly test smoke alarms and fire alarm systems. Replace smoke alarm batteries every Fall semester.
  • Regularly inspect rooms and building for fire hazards. Contact the Charleston Fire Marshal at 843-720-1981 for assistance.
  • Inspect doors and windows to make sure they are working properly.
  • Create and update detailed floor plans of buildings, and make them available to emergency personnel, resident advisors, and students.
  • Conduct fire drills and practice escape routes and evacuation plans. Urge students to take each alarm seriously.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets and make sure extension cords are used properly.
  • Learn to properly use and maintain heating and cooking appliances.

Off-Campus Housing 

  • Look for fully-sprinklered housing off-campus housing.
  • Make sure your apartment has smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and on each level. For the best protection, all smoke alarms 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.
  • 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.
  • During a power outage, use a flashlight.
  • Cook only where it is permitted.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
  • Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or alcohol.
  • Check with the Charleston Fire Marshal at 843-720-1981 for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or chiminea.
  • Use a surge protector for your computer and plug the protector directly into an outlet.

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