In an effort to stress the importance of educating college students about fire safety, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper joined local leaders in Fort Collins last week to proclaim September as Campus Fire Safety Month.
Two Colorado State University employees were instrumental in the process: Veronica Olivas and Nicole Reed of the university’s Fire and Life Safety Office in Housing and Dining Services. They’ve partnered with the Poudre Fire Authority for years to teach students and employees critical life-saving information, engage in annual fire drills and conduct building inspections.
“Across the country every year, people die from fires,” said Madeline Noblett, public affairs and communication manager for Poudre Fire Authority. “Their deaths are heartbreaking. But they are also preventable, which is why education is key in this and every community.”
Developing a generation of fire-safe adults is critical to ensure students take the correct precautions during their college years and beyond to significantly reduce future loss of life from fires. An estimated 86 percent of the college- and university-related fire fatalities across the nation since January 2000 have occurred in off-campus housing, according to information compiled by Campus Firewatch, a fire-safety and prevention organization that runs a website dedicated to improving fire safety in schools.
On Sept. 13, Gov. John Hickenlooper visited the PFA’s Station 1 in Fort Collins after Olivas contacted him last year asking to collaborate with the Campus Firewatch organization to sign the proclamation and show the importance of educating communities on fire safety and prevention services. Campus Firewatch is working to get governors in all 50 states to sign a similar proclamation designating September as Campus Fire Safety Month.
Representatives from PFA and CSU’s Fire and Life Safety Office team up annually to teach the university’s resident assistants, who work directly with students living in the residence halls, how to use fire extinguishers and safely evacuate in the event of an emergency. The two organizations also host annual fire drills at CSU’s residence halls, and coordinate campus FlashPoint Week, which is composed of several days of educational opportunities, including demonstrating fire safety in a smoke-filled room, trivia, virtual reality and firefighting equipment demonstrations.
‘We all benefit’
“Education in fire and life safety makes a difference in a community and empowers individuals and families to engage in safe practices from which we all benefit,” said Olivas. “This proclamation epitomizes the effort that fire and life safety educators put forth to make our communities a safer place to live.”
Students enrolled in a CSU social work course will also partner with PFA educators and firefighters this fall to install smoke alarms in lower-income areas in Fort Collins. In partnership with Campus Firewatch, First Alert donated the alarms to PFA as part of a national effort to get students to work alongside firefighters to improve community safety.
For tips about fire safety, check CSU’s Off-Campus Life handbook at http://col.st/ZjzFv.