DFS Encourages Higher Education Institutions to Utilize
Prepared Public Service Announcements

TRENTON, NJ – September is recognized as National Campus Fire Safety Month. To encourage increased fire safety and prevention at higher education institutions in the Garden State, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Fire Safety has issued a fire safety reminder to college campuses and provided public service announcements that schools, campus radio stations and student centers can use free of charge. The public service announcements address escape plans, smoke alarms, matches and lighters, and stop, drop and roll.

“For many college students, this may be their first experience with independent living. Our Division of Fire Safety is providing general tips in the hope that students will pay attention and take the necessary precautions to avoid fire-related injuries,” said DCA Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III. “We are also encouraging parents to speak directly with their college-age children about the importance of being aware at all times of potential fire dangers.”

New Jersey has one of the most stringent on-campus dormitory fire sprinkler codes in the nation as a result of the state’s Dormitory Trust Fund Safety Act. However, approximately two-thirds of the nation’s college students reside off campus, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Also, many college students had their last real session in fire safety as students in grammar school.

“Young adults are often unaware of the real risk that fire poses. Misusing cooking appliances, leaving candles unattended, and overloading electrical circuits and extension cords can all lead to fire,” said Division of Fire Safety Acting Director William Kramer. “The good news is fire safety is easy to learn. Students can begin by listening to the public service announcements and reviewing campus fire safety tips.”   

The following fire safety cautions are a staple for college students:


  • Avoid using lighted candles. Consider LED alternatives instead.
  • Never leave candles unattended.
  • Keep candles away from curtains and bed linens.


  • Learn to properly use and maintain heating and cooking appliances.
  • Cook only where it is permitted.
  • Keep the cooking area clean and uncluttered.
  • Don’t overload circuits with electric appliances.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • If a fire starts in a microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the unit.


  • Smoke outside.
  • Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.
  • Check for cigarette butts after a party, especially under cushions. Chairs and sofas catch on fire fast and burn fast.
  • Put your cigarette out if you are sleepy or have been drinking.

Escape Planning

  • Never ignore fire alarms.
  • Get low and go under the smoke to the nearest exit in the event of a fire.
  • Before opening a door, feel the door. If it is hot, find a different exit.
  • Never use an elevator during a fire. Use the stairs.
  • Call the fire department and tell them where you are if you are trapped. Seal your door with rags and signal from your window. Open windows slightly at the top and bottom; shut them if smoke rushes in from any direction.

The Division of Fire Safety also advises that New Jersey colleges and universities conduct continual audits of their own on campus fire safety public education campaigns for students living both on and off campus. Administrators should:

  • Teach students how to properly notify the fire department using the 911 system.
  • Install smoke alarms in every dormitory room and every level of housing facilities.
  • Maintain and regularly test smoke alarms and fire alarm systems.
  • Replace smoke alarm batteries every semester.
  • Regularly inspect rooms and buildings for fire hazards.
  • Inspect exit doors and windows to make sure they are working properly.
  • Create and update detailed floor plans of buildings, and make them available to emergency personnel, resident advisors and students.
  • Conduct fire drills and practice escape routes and evacuation plans.

Attached to the press release are MP3 files of the free public service announcements, which were produced by The Idea Bank, a non-profit fire safety education organization.

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for developing and enforcing the State Uniform Fire Code; certifying and training all New Jersey firefighters; and implementing public education programs. For more information, log on to www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dfs/ on the DCA website.