firemarshallSummer break is quickly coming to an end and many students will be moving in to dormitories or other college housing. State Fire Marshal Chuck Duffy recommendsthat, “Fire safety should be reviewed as students settle into their new spaces. Understanding the safety features of a building and knowing your escape routes can significantly increase your personal safety.”

The United States Fire Administration reports an estimated 3,800 university housing fires occur each year. The leading causes include cooking, intentionally set fires, careless smoking, unattended candles, and overloaded electrical wiring. State Fire Marshal Duffy suggests the following tips to reduce the risk of fire and increase student safety:

Cooking should only be done in a location permitted by the school’s policies. Never leave your cooking unattended. If a fire starts in a microwave, leave the door closed and unplug the unit.

Alcohol, drugs and fire do not mix. The combination can make an individual sleepy which could result in them falling asleep with a lit cigarette. Smoking outside the building is recommended. Only use noncombustible, deep, wide, sturdy ashtrays to extinguish smoking materials.

Candles may be prohibited from use in college housing. Students should familiarize themselves with the applicable policies regarding open flames. If candles are permitted, never leave them unattended while they are burning. Ensure the container/holder is noncombustible and made of sturdy material. Using a flameless candle is recommended.

Fire sprinklers and smoke alarms are built in safety devices designed to respond quickly if a fire were to start. Never disable or hinder their operation. If a smoke alarm sounds, immediately evacuate the building and do not assume it is a false alarm. 

The Office of the State Fire Marshal is a Bureau of the Washington State Patrol, providing fire and life safety services to the citizens of Washington State including inspections of state licensed facilities, plan review of school construction projects, licensing of fire sprinkler contractors and pyrotechnic operators, training Washington State’s firefighters, and collecting emergency response data.

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