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Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  Public Information Officer
Investigative Operations
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office


Des Moines, IOWA --- As thousands of people make their way to campuses all over Iowa, the State Fire Marshal is reminding students to remain vigilant when it comes to fire safety.  "Each year we see students move into dorm rooms all across the state.  Students bring with them cigarettes, extension cords, cooking equipment, and space heaters.  These are major igniters of home fires in Iowa.  Why would we expect anything different in a dorm room?" asks State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds.

Cooking is the leading cause of fire injuries on college campuses, closely followed by careless smoking and arson.  In cases where fire fatalities occurred on college campuses, alcohol was a factor.  There is a strong link between alcohol and fire deaths.  In more than 50% of adult fire fatalities, victims were under the influence at the time of the fire.  Alcohol abuse often impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts.

Some fire safe tips you can live with:

  • Never smoke inside your dorm room.  The American Heart Association encourages you to quit smoking.  If you choose to smoke, do it outside.
  • Never overload circuits or extension cords. Appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet.
  • Never leave items that are cooking unattended; even for a short amount of time. 
  • Be sure your sleeping room has a smoke detector and the batteries are tested monthly. 
  • If you smell smoke or see a fire, call 9-1-1. 
  • When a fire alarm is activated, never assume it is a false alarm.  Leave the building every time!
  • Don't be lulled into thinking you have plenty of time to exit during a fire.  Get out quickly and stay out.  A fire doubles in size every minute it goes unsuppressed.
  • Don't mix fire and alcohol.  Bar stunts involving fire never end well.

Students should feel good about sleeping in university and college buildings.  The State Fire Marshal Division conducts fire safety inspections in all 119 education buildings in Iowa and every single dormitory every two years.  Reynolds states, "We’re doing our part to make sure your dorms are safe to live in.  But much of fire safety is dependent upon the occupants.  Take a few moments to safeguard your dorm rooms from fire and always consider if your actions could produce a fire.”

Click here to view Governor Culver’s Proclamation of Campus Fire Safety Month.


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