Three U.S. lawmakers from New Jersey, Senator Robert Menendez and Congressmen Bill Pascrell Jr. and Donald Payne, will introduce a bill aimed at improving fire safety awareness on college campuses across the country. The new bill is called the Campus Fire Safety Education Act.

The bill would create the Campus Fire Safety Education Grant Program to fund fire safety education on college campuses. The goal is to improve students’ fire training and awareness of evacuation and response plans.

The grant program would distribute $15 million, reports The funds would be awarded to colleges that meet certain criteria.

The bill is a response to a deadly campus fire at a dorm on the Seton Hall University campus in 2000. That fire killed three students and injured 58 others.

“The tragic Seton Hall dorm fire in Boland Hall that claimed the lives of three young students and injured dozens more was a preventable disaster triggered by a senseless and reckless act,” said Sen. Menendez, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. Two students said they lit a banner that was draped over a couch on fire. They said it was a prank and that they had been drinking that night.

“This bill protects kids and arms them with powerful information at a time when they are starting to become independent men and women,” said Rep. Pascrell, the chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus and the bill’s sponsor. “This bill recognizes that increased fire safety awareness will save lives, and I’m proud to support it,” added Rep. Payne Jr., a cosponsor of the bill and whose district includes the Seton Hall campus.

Read more about the bill on Sen. Menendez’s website.

Fire Safety on College Campuses

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments in the U.S. responded to an estimated 3,870 structure fires in dorms, fraternities, sororities and barracks every year between 2009 and 2013. The vast majority of these fires were related to cooking equipment. Learn more about campus fires in the NFPA’s report, Structure Fires in Dormitories, Fraternities, Sororities, and Barracks.

New Jersey passed a law after the Seton Hall fire requiring that college dorms install fire sprinklers. Other states have similar laws. The NFPA recommends choosing on- or off-campus housing that includes fire sprinklers. Check out the NFPA’s other campus and dorm fire safety tips. Among them:

  • Make sure dorms and apartments have smoke alarms, and test them monthly.
  • Create a fire escape plan if you live off campus, including two ways to exit every room.
  • Only cook where permitted and stay in the kitchen.
  • Do not cook if intoxicated or drowsy due to alcohol.

If another party is to blame or contributed to a campus fire, and you or your loved one suffer burn injuries, you could be entitled to take legal action. For help finding a lawyer, call our lawyer referral specialists at 844-549-8774.