FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, September 08, 2014

New Jersey Division of Fire Safety Joins Campus Fire Safety Advocacy Organizations for National Campus Fire Safety Month

Fire Safety Video, “The Alarming Truth,” Depicts the Danger of Campus Fires

TRENTON, NJ - The New Jersey Division of Fire Safety is joining university fire safety advocacy organizations including the Clery Center for Security on Campus and Campus Fire Watch for September’s National Campus Fire Safety Month. 

The Division, serving as the lead fire agency in the state, has taken steps to communicate the danger that fire can present to college students, especially for those living in off campus housing, through the distribution of the film, "The Alarming Truth" to local fire officials and fire departments. This film was produced by Rowan University in cooperation with the Clery Center for Campus Security, Campus Firewatch and the Philadelphia Fire Department.

The Division of Fire Safety enforces the nation’s first dormitory sprinkler law as a result of the fatal fire that took place in Seton Hall University’s Boland Hall, which killed three students. Since the year 2000 however, there has been a spike in the number of students injured and killed by off-campus housing fires in residences not generally under the supervision of campus public safety officials.

"The number of off-campus housing fire fatalities nationwide is alarming and requires a proactive fire inspection program adjacent to our state universities," said William Kramer, Jr., Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety and State Fire Marshal. "Additionally, an aggressive on-campus public education campaign should be carried out by student organizations to communicate to all students residing on campus, and off, the danger fire represents. Returning students, and those living independently for the first time, need to understand fire risks and preventative measures that could save their lives."

Since 2000 there have been 72 fatal fires that occurred in off-campus housing within three miles of a university that have claimed a total of 122 student lives nationwide.

"For many students, the last time they received any specific fire safety instruction was in grade school," Kramer added.  "We are attempting to address this through our support of the program, "Fire is…," an online instruction program for middle schools."

According to statistical information compiled by FEMA’s US Fire Administration there are precipitating factors that many off-campus fire incidents share:

  • Lack of automatic fire sprinklers 

  • Missing or disabled smoke alarms 

  • Careless disposal of smoking materials 

  • Impaired judgment from alcohol consumption 

  • Upholstered furniture fires on decks and porches 

In addition, the following factors may increase the risk of fire fatalities:

  • Improper use of 911 notification systems delays emergency response. 

  • Student apathy is prevalent. Many are unaware that fire is a risk or threat in the environment. 

  • Evacuation efforts are hindered since fire alarms are often ignored. 

  • Building evacuations are delayed due to lack of preparation and preplanning. 

  • Vandalized and improperly maintained smoke alarms and fire alarm systems inhibit early detection of fires. 

  • Misuse of cooking appliances, overloaded electrical circuits, and extension cords increase the risk of fires. 

To view the film "The Alarming Truth," visit:

The Division of Fire Safety offers a pamphlet entitled: "A Parent and Student Guide to Campus Safety," which offers a comprehensive guide to what students can expect while attending either an in-state college or university, or, one out of state. The pamphlet is available on the Division website for download.

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing public education and firefighter training programs.