Fire Prevention and Safety Education Guide

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How much devastation and loss fires can cause is evident from the fact that each year, firefighters counter an average of 3,810 fires in Greek housing and college residence halls. Since the year 2000, millions of dollars of property has been damaged, and 122 fatalities have been recorded due to campus fires. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), education and awareness about fire prevention and safety among students could have prevented the majority of these fire incidences.

In this article, we have listed various safety tips for school and college students. We have also thrown light on some of the fire safety education programs.

Fire Safety Tips for College Students

Both on-and-off campus, university and college students witness many fire-related emergencies each year, throughout the nation. However, by following the below-given fire safety tips, students can minimize the risk of fire and can save several lives.

1. Avoid Lighting a Candle

Most of the colleges and universities forbid the use of candles, open flames, and incense. If your college permits the use of candles:

  • Choose flameless candles instead of wax candles
  • Keep candles away from linens and curtains
  • Keep candles in sturdy holders
  • Don’t forget to blow out the candle flame immediately after using

2. Avoid Overloading an Electrical Outlet

In order to prevent electrical hazards, take these precautions:

  • Do not overload an electrical outlet with multiple extension cords
  • Refrain from using frayed or cheap extension cords
  • Use approved power strips or surge protectors having in-built overload protection
  • Don’t leave a space heater on while going to bed
  • Never keep fabrics near light fixtures and lamps

3. Be Mindful While Cooking

Follow the below-given safety measures while cooking:

  • Never leave sizzling pans or boiling pots unattended
  • Cook only in the area specified for it
  • Do not accumulate combustible debris around the cooking area
  • Unplug the unit and close the door if microwave catches fire
  • Avoid cooking when you are under the influence of medicine or alcohol and feeling drowsy

4. Smoke with Caution

Most of the universities and colleges are smoke-free and strictly dissuade smoking on their campuses. However, if your college permits smoking, follow these tips:

  • Smoke only in the areas where it is allowed
  • Completely extinguish the ashes and cigarettes
  • Make use of broad, deep ashtrays and put them on some sturdy and non-flammable surface
  • Do not throw hot ashes or cigarette butts in the trash can
  • Do not smoke when in a haze or drinking
  • Avoid smoking in bed
  • Furniture is highly combustible and catches on fire fast; thus, check for cigarette butts under sofas, chairs, and cushions

5. Keep Fire Escape Plan Ready

Each second matters in the event of the fire. Therefore, it’s essential to have a fire escape plan ready in advance. Make sure to:

  • Never ignore a fire alarm
  • Read instructions given on fire extinguishers
  • Keep others informed about what type of aid you will require to leave the site if you have any disability

During the break out of the fire:

  • Call the fire department if you are trapped in the fire and tell them your exact location
  • The best way to escape through the smoke is to get low and go beneath the smoke towards the exit
  • Feel the door before opening it; use your second exit if the door is hot
  • Use stairs instead of an elevator

In case you are trapped in a room:

  • Don’t open the doors; keep them closed
  • Give a call at 911
  • In order to keep out smoke, place a wet towel under the door
  • To signal for help, open a window and wave a flashlight or a bright cloth

FIRE TYPES

Fire Prevention and Safety Education

 

Rules for Preventing Fires

Each college campus has a fire safety department that is responsible for devising and implementing fire safety policies. The International Fire Code and the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code mandate the colleges and schools to have fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and smoke detectors. The safety departments at college campuses organize and conduct fire drills. They also educate students about procedures to prevent fire, using various types of fire extinguishers, evacuating methods, and how to report fires.

The Fire Equipment Manufacturers’ Association supports a balanced approach for fire protection design wherein safety is not subjected to any single component; instead, it includes a blend of fire safety equipment and quick actions. A balanced fire protection design comprises automated systems, emergency lighting, exit signs, fire/smoke alarms, standpipe fire hose stations, and fire extinguishers.

Acts for Fire Safety

1. The Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act (2008)

The Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act, which is an amendment to the Higher Education Opportunity Act, requires each school and college (that are taking part in any program under this Act) to provide yearly fire safety report involving information about their campus fire safety standards and practices. This report must be provided to all the current employees, students, and any applicant upon request.

This Act requires institutes to:

  • Keep a record of all on-campus fires. The file must include information about all false fire alarms as well as location, time, date, and nature of each fire.
  • Disclose such information to public inspection.
  • Report the campus community on such information each year so that preventive measures can be taken to avert such incidences in future.

2. Campus Fire Safety Month (CFSM)

Campus Fire Safety Month is an effort to raise awareness about fire and life safety on campus, throughout the nation. The month of September was declared as the Campus Fire Safety Month by the Congress in 2013. This campaign encourages schools, universities, and colleges to implement applicable fire codes, assess fire safety in off-campus and on-campus student housing, and conduct fire safety educational programs.

Fire Safety on College Campuses

Several factors contribute to on-campus fires, such as:

  • Apathy and negligence on the part of students;
  • Unawareness of the fire safety;
  • Lack of fire escape planning and preparation;
  • Improper maintenance of fire and smoke alarm systems;
  • Misuse of cooking appliances, etc.

Incidences of on-campus fires can be substantially reduced by following the safety guidelines given below:

  • Spot the two closest exits and all other evacuation routes
  • Identify where the nearest fire alarm is located and how to use it
  • Test all fire safety equipment monthly and quickly inform the campus public safety department about the damaged fire equipment
  • Don’t clutter the corridors with flammable materials
  • Never lock fire exit doors

Campus labs are at higher risks of getting fire because of mechanical, electrical, and chemical heat sources. Students must keep these points in mind while working in campus labs:

  • Keep ignitable reagents and substances away from heat
  • Keep an eye on pressure vessels while performing experiments
  • Follow the fire safety guidelines provided by the lab for conducting research and tests
  • Always work under the supervision

Fire Safety for Off-Campus Student Apartments

As per the statistics of the Center for Campus Fire Safety, approximately 80% of fire-related casualties occur in off-campus student apartments. Careless dumping of smoking materials, disabled or missing smoke alarms/fire sprinklers, etc., are some of the significant factors that contribute to such fatalities. Howbeit, the risk of fire-related tragedies can be minimized by taking the following measures:

  • Ensure that each bedroom has working smoke alarms with back-up power sources
  • Identify two exit routes to escape from the building/bedroom
  • Ensure that the sprinkler system is well-maintained and in working condition
  • The address of your building must be visible; it will help emergency services to find you easily
  • Make sure that the heating system is inspected annually
  • The building must be examined by the Fire Marshal every year
  • Ascertain that you can open the windows at once
  • The exit routes must not be cluttered
  • There should be a single-cylinder on the exit doors of each unit

Note: When using a fire extinguisher, keep in mind the word “PASS”-

P – Pull the pin and grasp the fire extinguisher in such a way that its nozzle is away from you

A – Aim at staying low to the ground, towards the base of the fire

S – Squeeze the lever evenly and slowly

S – Sweep the nozzle of the extinguisher from side to side

How to use fire extinguisher

Fire Safety Guidelines for Schools

The incidences of fires in the educational facilities can be minimized by observing the following guidelines:

  • It is the responsibility of the teachers to train students to follow instructions on hearing the sound of the fire alarm
  • Educate students about how to use a fire extinguisher
  • Teachers must practice fire drills with students on a regular basis and instruct them how to stay calm and orderly during an emergency
  • The school building must be regularly inspected for fire safety issues
  • Locations of fire extinguishers and exit routes must be marked clearly
  • Damage and loss of life can be prevented through regular training and practice of evacuation procedures

Fire Safety Education Programs

Many states across the United States of America conduct fire safety classes, training, and education programs. We have discussed some of them here:

1. Fire Safety for Texans

It is a series of fire safety curriculum (K-12) created by the SFMO (State Fire Marshal’s Office). The entire set of burn and fire prevention curriculum can be availed online and free of cost by those who teach fire safety. Each guide has three sections:

  • Lesson Plans
  • Teacher Materials – comprises of all teaching aids and tests
  • Student Materials-Duplicating Masters – includes master copies of study material for students

For different grades, the curriculum consists of various topics such as Fire Safe Together, Fire Safety Power, Responsible for Fire Safety, Fire Safety: Any time, Any Place, etc.

2. Community Risk Reduction Programs

These programs are conducted by the Durham Fire Department to promote safety and prevent emergencies and fires before they happen. The education program includes home escape plans, complimentary home evaluations, fire extinguisher training, fire station tours, etc.

3. Ready-to-Use Educational Fire Safety Presentations and Programs

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) provides Fire Safety Program Toolkits to develop or enhance your fire safety education program. The USFA also provides Fire Safety Trailer Curriculum to take your education program to a whole new level. The curriculum is divided into 3 phases:

  • Before Your Event
  • During Your Event
  • After Your Event

In addition to these education programs, you may find many other fire safety prevention courses in your state.

Resources of Fire Safety and Education

U.S. Fire Administration – A Fire-safe America

Learn about fire protection technologies, and work with the media towards public safety from fire hazards

National Fire Protection Association

All the information and statistics regarding fire prevention and make the country safer

Environmental Health and Safety

Knowledge regarding fire safety, what to do in case of fire, drills to save lives, and detection and protection of fire

Fire Safety Measures for Students with Disability

Detailed information on fire safety by Michael H. Minger Foundation prepared in the form of a pdf file and videos

Fire Protection Engineering Magazine

Fire Protection Engineers share fire safety information and strategic plan for SFPE members

University Housing Fires (2007-2009)

US Fire Administration report mentioning the reasons for university housing fires

Fire Safety Resources for Training of Students

Resources available for the all the students living off or on-campus to save them from fire emergencies

Sources