TOPEKA - On Aug. 24, Governor Jeff Colyer officially proclaimed September as Campus Fire Safety Month in Kansas. The Kansas Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM), along with representatives from Washburn University, University of Kansas, Wichita State University, Topeka Fire Department and Emporia Fire Department attended the proclamation signing ceremony in Topeka.

Campus Fire Safety Month is a nationwide effort to raise fire and life safety awareness on campus. Unfortunately, some students do not realize how quickly a fire can occur, and most have not received fire safety education since elementary school.

“Campus Fire Safety Month is a chance for us to highlight the importance of fire prevention in a campus-related setting,” Doug Jorgensen, State Fire Marshal, said. “Students can have the attitude that they are invincible and that a fire, serious injury and/or death will never happen to them. Unfortunately, many will find out that is not the case. We want them, as well as their parents, to have the tools and knowledge to protect themselves no matter whether they live on campus or off.”

Student-related housing fires in college towns across the country have tragically cut short many lives and caused millions of dollars in property damage over the past 10 years. Since 2008, there have been 222 fires on college campuses in Kansas, not including the many more which occurred in off-campus occupancies. Approximately 87 percent of campus-related fire deaths in the United States have occurred in off-campus occupancies.

“Something as simple as making sure your apartment has working smoke alarms and/or automatic sprinkler systems can save lives and property,” Jorgensen said. “And many off-campus occupancies are not adequately protected. Students and parents need to make sure their housing, whether on campus or off, is fire safe. Campus Fire Safety Month provides us the opportunity to have important discussions about fire prevention on college campuses and surrounding areas.”

Fire safety education has proven to be an effective method of reducing the occurrence of fires and reducing the resulting loss of life and property damage due to the downward trend of these fires over the past several years. It is vital to educate the future generation of Kansans about the importance of fire safety behavior so that these behaviors can help to ensure their safety during their college years and beyond.