Tennessee is joining states across the country in recognizing September as National Campus Safety Month after Governor Haslam signed a proclamation earlier this year.

Tennessee's State Fire Marshal's Office is encouraging students at colleges and universities across the state to practice fire safety.

“Going to college includes many new experiences, like students living on their own and cooking for themselves,” Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (SFMO) Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak said. “We encourage students living both on and off campus to practice fire-safe behaviors in all aspects of their lives as they transition to living on their own.”

Between 2011-2015, the National Fire Protection Association said fire departments were called to around 4,100 fires in dorms, fraternities, sororities and other related properties. Since 2000, 132 people have been killed in fires that occurred in on-campus and off-campus housing and in Greek housing.

Since 2000, two students have lost their lives in campus-related fires in Tennessee, according to SFMO data records. A 20-year-old student was killed in a fire at a residence hall at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale in 2005. A University of Memphis student was killed in a fire while living in an off-campus apartment.

The SFMO has made a list of fire safety tips to help college students:

  • No matter if you’re searching for a dorm or off-campus housing, look for fully sprinklered buildings.
  • Make sure you can hear the building’s alarm system from your room.
  • If you live in a dorm, make sure your room has a working smoke alarm. If your room is part of a suite, ensure there are smoke alarms inside and outside of every sleeping area. For best protection, the alarms will be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • If you live in an apartment or house, make sure smoke alarms are installed in each sleeping area, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the apartment unit or house. For best protection, install interconnected alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least once per month.
  • Never remove an alarm’s batteries or disable an alarm.
  • Learn your building’s escape plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
  • If you live off campus, have a home fire escape plan with two ways out of each room. Practice the plan at least twice a year.
  • When smoke or fire alarms sound, get out of the building as quickly as possible and stay out.
  • Stay in the kitchen while cooking. Never leave something on the stop top unattended.
  • Only cook when you are alert—not sleepy or drowsy from medication or alcohol.
  • If you smoke, always smoke outside and only where it is permitted. Never smoke in bed, when you are drowsy, or when you have been drinking.
  • Abide by your school’s policies regarding candles. If your school permits candle use, place them away from anything that can burn. Never leave lit candles unattended—always blow them out when you leave a room or when you go to sleep.
  • Check your school’s rules before using electrical appliances in your room.

To learn more about fire safety and to download a free home fire escape planning sheet, visit the SMFO's website.