New Canaan Fire Marshal on College Fire Safety 


This month many young adults are preparing to travel to college. The student and parents carefully researched the school for the best academic experience. To this point parents have ensured their safety and security living within your home, now they will be asked to live on their own. 

There is an annual average of 4,000 fires in college dormitories. Fire can occur with on-campus housing and off-campus housing. Over 80% of the college student fire fatalities occurred in off-campus housing. Most of the fires occur between the hours of 5pm and 11pm. The most common cause of dormitory fire is cooking. Smoking and unattended candles are the next most frequent causes. 

The best way to prevent a loss of life or property from a fire is preventing ignition from occurring. Second is early detection. Here is a list of some prevention tips. 

Smoke Detection 

  • Ensure there are working smoke detectors on each level and each bedroom of a structure 
  • Do not disable smoke detectors

Cooking Safety 

  • Cook only where it is approved with approved equipment 
  • Cooking in your room with hot plates is not acceptable! 
  • Do not leave cooking unattended. 
  • Leave the door closed on oven or microwaves if there is a fire inside. 
  • Do not use extension cords or overload outlets

Candles and Smoking 

  • Smoke outside of the building and discard smoking materials in approved containers. 
  • Ensure candle holders are sturdy and will not fall over and never leave candle unattended. 
  • Use battery operated candles whenever possible. 

Your Escape 

  • Plan your escape. Identify two ways out of the dorm. 
  • Exit the building when the fire alarm sounds. 
  • Participate in Fire Drills! 
  • Keep bedroom doors closed. 
  • If the door is hot do not open it! 
  • Stay low! Crawl under smoke. 

If you are planning to live in off-campus housing choose a place with a fire sprinkler system, redundant (hardwired and battery) smoke detection, and just good maintenance/housekeeping.

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