September 2013 - Code Compliance

Fire Safety for Student Accommodations

September 1, 2013


Many students attend college or university this fall will be living away from home for the first time. This can be a concern for parents as they try to ensure their children will be safe when they’re not living at home. Here are a few important fire safety rules that parents should discuss with their children before dropping them off at their new residence.



  • Remain in the kitchen when cooking something on the stove.
  • Keep all combustible items such as tea towels, wooden or plastic spoons and paper towels a safe distance away from the stove.
  • Keep a pot lid near the stove to smother the flames if a fire starts in a pot.



  • Tea lights or votive candles in non-combustible containers are a safer choice than tapers.
  • Place burning candles in a location where they can’t be knocked away from combustible items.
  • Refrain from burning candles during parties. They can easily be knocked over or ignite nearby combustibles, unnoticed.
  • Blow out all candles before leaving the room or going to bed.


Social Gatherings

  • Avoid over-crowding, the more people attending the party, the easier it is to lose control of the situation.
  • Encourage guests to smoke outside.  Consider putting up no smoking signs that direct guests to an outside smoking area.



  • Encourage smokers to go outside.
  • Keep large, deep ashtrays on hand that will reduce the risk of ashes and cigarette butts falling onto rugs or upholstery.
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing.


Electrical Equipment

  • Use an approved power bar with a circuit breaker and surge protector to plug in computer and stereo equipment.
  • Avoid the use of extension cords as permanent wiring.
  • Make sure electrical cords are not concealed under carpets or rugs where they can be easily damaged.


Smoke Alarms

  • The responsibility for smoke alarm installation and maintenance lies with the building owner however, it is a good idea for parents to provide their child with a smoke alarm for his or her bedroom.
  • It is against the law for occupants to disable or tamper with a smoke alarm.
  • If a smoke alarm activates due to steam from the shower or cooking on the stove, oven or toaster, ask the landlord to move the alarm to a different location, or to install a smoke alarm with a “hush” feature.


Fire Escape Planning

  • Identify two ways out of every building, if possible.
  •  Make sure all designated escape routes are accessible and free of clutter.
  • Leave the building as quickly as possible. Once outside, don’t re-enter the building for any reason.
  • Call 9-1-1 from outside the building using a cell phone or neighbor’s phone.