Several national organizations are joining together to raise awareness of the dangers of residential fires and the life-saving benefits of installing fire sprinklers in dorms and off-campus housing — whether apartments or single-family housing. This partnership is forming following a July 20, 2018 fire in San Marcos, TX where five students died, six people were injured, and 200 were displaced.
“Our hope is to organize a unified response to tragedies like this so that more people may pause to realize the lessons there are to learn,” says Ron Siarnicki, Executive Director of the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation. “By joining forces coast to coast, we can help citizens and firefighters learn the facts before they select college housing and urge local fire officials to support fire sprinkler codes and be active with education about them.”
Many people lose sight of the fact that fires are dangerous not just to residents, but also to firefighters. Today’s new houses are built with big open designs, constructed with modern combustible materials, and they’re filled with synthetic furnishings. When they burn, they fail fast, and that environment places firefighters at risk from fire, as well as toxins that lead to disease. Older housing has its own unique set of challenges, and many times off-campus housing is not up to the current code and may be lacking regular inspections.
“We are seeing too many fire deaths across America that can be prevented,” explained Amy Acton, Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors Executive Director. “We know how to reduce this number and we should all be working together to prevent more fire deaths. Properly installed fire sprinklers, working smoke detectors, and escape planning are key to this issue.”
The organizations that are joining to raise awareness about the need for fire prevention and education on campuses nationwide include:
- National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
- Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors
- National Fire Sprinkler Association
- Common Voices
- Center for Campus Fire Safety
“Our hope is that through tragedies we can unite and educate to prevent the next tragedy,” explains Rob Feeney, a burn survivor and fire safety advocate active with Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and Common Voices. “It’s time for fire safety to be a priority. Lives can be saved if fire prevention is included in our daily lives. We extend our sincerest sympathy to the families of those who died, and we hope the survivors will join our advocacy for fire safety.”