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San Marcos Fire Tragedy Highlights Need for Fire Safety Prevention Planning for Campus Housing


National Fire Sprinkler Association 

Jul 26, 2018, 13:27 ET

SAN MARCOS, Texas, July 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Several national organizations are joining together to raise awareness of the growing 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 happening following the July 20thfire in San Marcos, Texas 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 together 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, and 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."

For more details about the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation's Life Safety Initiatives, please visit NFFF was created by Congress to lead a nationwide effort to remember America's fallen firefighters. Since 1992, the tax-exempt, non-profit foundation has developed and expanded programs to honor our fallen fire heroes and assist their families and coworkers.

About Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors: Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors is the leading non-profit organization helping burn survivors meet their challenges with the community support and tools they need to thrive again, and to ensure that no survivor ever has to make that journey alone. Working with survivors, families, healthcare professionals, fire service professionals, we are uniting the voice of the burn community across the globe to profoundly advance lifelong healing, optimal recovery, and burn prevention.

About the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA): NFSA was founded in 1905 and wants to create a more fire safe world, and works to heighten the awareness of the importance of fire sprinkler systems from homes to high-rise and all occupancies in between. The Association is an inclusive organization made up of dedicated and committed members of a progressive life-saving industry. This industry manufactures, designs, supplies, installs, inspects, and services the world's most effective system in saving lives and property from uncontrolled structural fires. For more information about fire sprinklers, how they work and access to additional resources and information, visit for the latest material, statistics and a dedicated team of fire safety advocates ready to serve all stakeholders in order to fulfill the vision of a safer world.

About Common Voices:  Common Voices ( is an advocates' coalition of members who all have been directly affected by fire. By bringing their voices together, they hope to educate others regarding fire and its devastating impact. Their mission is to create a fire-safe America by sharing their stories, creating resources that educate and sharing fire statistics.

About Center for Campus Fire Safety: The Center for Campus Fire Safety ( is a non-profit, member focused organization devoted to reducing the loss of life from fire at our nation's campuses. The mission of The Center for Campus Fire Safety is to serve as an advocate for the promotion of campus fire safety. The Center serves as the focal point for the efforts of a number of organizations and also as a clearinghouse for information relating to campus fire safety.

Contact: Vickie Pritchett


SOURCE National Fire Sprinkler Association

Related Links


Breaking News

Texas State sets up Student Emergency Fund for apartment fire victims - FOX 7 Austin

FOX 7 AustinTexas State sets up Student Emergency Fund for apartment fire victimsFOX 7 Austin110 units were impacted by the fires and more than 200 people have been displaced. Officials say search and recovery efforts continue. While it's still not officially clear if those who died are students, Texas State University officials say students ...


Read Full Article

Body of San Angelo College Student Killed in San Marcos Apartment Fire Identified - San Angelo LIVE!

7/24/2018 11:53 AM

Read Full Article 


Breaking News 

Burning candle caused Colby College dormitory fire, officials say ... - Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 

7/05/2018 11:03 AM

Follow this link for the complete story

Fire blazes at UVM's Torrey Hall - 

8/3/2017 9:23 AM

Follow this link for the complete story.

CCFS Lifetime Member, Shawn Simons, speaks with NBC reporter Sarah Wallace about the disappointment of more states not making fire sprinklers mandatory on college campuses. WATCH VIDEO  | MORE ABOUT SHAWN & AL

5 University of Maryland Students Displaced after House Fire -CBS Baltimore / WJZ

Follow this Link

The New York Post Reports on Ph.D. student studying abroad who dies in house fire 
May 2, 2017 | 2:56pm | Updated
A bright, Long Island-raised student living in Ireland was killed in a tragic house fire that may have been sparked by a phone charger, according to a report Tuesday.
Modal Trigger
Grace McDermott, a 26-year-old Ph.D. candidate originally from East Islip, died in a blaze that ripped through her friends’ three-story home in Limerick on Monday — a day after she ran a race for charity, the Irish Mirror reported.
“Words cannot express my shock and sadness in this moment,” one of her friends, Tony Sheridan, tweeted. “May you rest in peace. Heartbreaking.”
McDermott, who attended East Islip High School and was studying in Dublin, was in a bedroom on the second floor when the fire broke out around 3:20 a.m., fire department sources told the Mirror.
Three male members of the University of Limerick’s rugby squad, who were renting the home, and a female friend escaped the inferno without injuries, according to the paper.
Fire officials were investigating whether an electrical fire from a cellphone charger had caused the blaze, according to the Limerick Leader.
Friends and colleagues were crushed by McDermott’s untimely death, posting condolences on Twitter.
“Absolutely devastated to hear this. Grace gave some the most interesting lectures I attended in DCU and she was an inspiration to us all,” tweeted @AoifeRM.
Another tribute read, “Brightest star, your passion for life & movement & change & justice was awe inspiring. So proud to have known you.”
McDermott, who had studied at the University of Limerick and lectured at Dublin City College, competed in Barrington’s Hospital Great Limerick Run on Sunday, posing “here we go!” on Twitter along with a photo of the event.
McDermott got her master’s in international tourism before studying for a doctorate in communications at the city college. She also co-founded the website Women Are Boring, which showcases outstanding research by women.
Her parents were likely en route to Ireland on Tuesday, according to the Irish Mirror.
McDermott is listed as living in Dublin on her Facebook page and records show she also lived briefly in Manhattan’s Chinatown.
She was visiting pals in Limerick, posting “The long weekend begins!” on her Twitter page Friday.

17 Years After Seton Hall Fire, Feds Announce Campus Safety Bill - 1/30/2017 11:19 AM

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Catholic University of Ammerica Fire Extinguisher Training

 University Staff and Faculty Participate in 2018 Annual Fire Extinguisher Training:


Campus Fire Watch and the Center for Campus Fire Safety 

One national resource we use is the Minger Foundation  founded after the death of Michael Minger in 1998 due to an arson fire at Murray State University in Kentucky. The foundation is a leading free resource and advocate for campus fire safety. It is user friendly and provides numerous tools from local and national sources as well as legislative initiatives.

Campus Firewatch is a great resource we find helpful in informing both parents and students about practicable application of safety principal and legislative measures impacting their lives.

Campus Firewatch started out as a monthly, electronic newsletter focusing on the complex issues of campus fire safety. In publication since May 2000, it is read by campus fire officers, state and local fire officials, insurance professionals, equipment manufacturers and all 50 state fire marshals and their staff. it provides a similar service much as The Minger Foundation, however, the leadership possesses extensive practicable fire service experience and is dedicated to improving overall application of fire and life-safety principles. Its founder ED Comeau states its current capacity is most like..."a social enterprise where, with the help of a lot of people and organizations, we are working to improve fire safety at schools and in the communities..."  

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Campus Fire Watch's Ed Comeau and the Minger Foundation additional resources have been identified for fire safety instruction of university Resident Assistants (RA'S). Follow the links below:

9-Fires excerpt from the Minger Foundation Website

...There has been an overwhelming response to the release in October, which is why it is now being made available for free download, besides streaming, and in three segments, which allows for more versatility in using the documentary during student training and education.

"I am amazed at the reception we have had for this documentary," said Gail Minger, president of the Michael H. Minger Foundation.  "We were able to produce it in a very short time because of very generous donations, and by making it available for download, we hope to expand our message about campus fire safety even farther."
The full documentary and the three segments are available for viewing online and download at
The Michael H. Minger Foundation was formed after the death of Michael in a residence hall fire. The foundation focuses on fire safety on our nation’s campuses with an emphasis on fire safety for students with disabilities.  For more information go to or

Campus Firewatch Provides Updated Fire Information related to Incidents at Higher Education Communities

Follow the link below:

Michael H. Minger Foundation | PO Box 721 | Niceville, FL  32588 | 850-621-5161 | Twitter @mhminger |

In addition to these resources, EHS conducts  Annual Fire Safety Trainng for designated Staff and Faculty. New and Transfer Students. RA's,  and support staff are encouraged to review EHS Safety Training via the university Blackboard Online Learning.   


About The Center for Campus Fire Safety

  The Center for Campus Fire Safety (The Center or CCFS ) is a non-profit, membership based, organization devoted to reducing the loss of life from fire at our nation's campuses. The Center serves as the focal point for the efforts of several organizations and also as a clearinghouse for information relating to campus fire and life safety. We also hold membership status with this organization. You will find breaking news and associated articles from there on this web page.

The Center for Campus Fire Safety has been documenting specific campus related fires deaths since Year 2000.  Current and more detailed statistics, along with the definition of how “campus related fires” are tracked can be located in via the lnks provided below. There are a host of fire safety resources and tips for fire safety professionals and students in both universitie and off-campus housing. The heart and soul of CCFS focuses on vigilance, education, and advocacy for anyone associated with campus life & higher education.You are encouraged to review and use these resources often.To learn more about The Center and its programs, visit

For additional information:

Fire Fatality Statistics and Definition:
Continuous e-news -campus fire & safety:
Campus Fire Safety Resources:

Media Contacts
                The Center for Campus Fire Safety | 978.961.0410                  Michael J. Swain,
Cathy Tabor, Director of Marketing Communications,  

Promoting the safety and welfare of others is conducive to the successful achievement of everyone, so let's stay involved. 

 National Fire Protection Association Off Campus Checklist

The NFPA has developed a safety checklist for students seeking off campus housing accommodations. Follow this link 

The following provides information specifically for off-campus housing related issues. We will be adding additional topics and supporting resource links in the future. If you have questions regarding health or safety issues that are not currently posted here, please email us at and a staff member will contact you. You can also check out our "About Us" page for specific staff members' contact information.

CUA's Office of Housing Services has an Off-Campus Housing Resource Center devoted to issues and information specifically for students living in, or moving into, off-campus housing. 


Important Links to University Resources

Here is a general listing of essential resources. Follow the links below for access:

Quarterly Fire Protection Inspection Testing and Maintenence

Our next Quarterly Inspections for the 2018 Fire Protection Systems Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM) will take place during August.

Environmental Health and Safety, Baltimore Fire Protection and Equipment International, Facilities Maintenance Operations and our Department of Public Safety assist discreetly as possible in this endeavor.

As always this fundamental safety activity may only be accomplished with the support and participation of every aspect of our Campus Community. We appreciate your Excellent Spirit!!!

Thank you for your cooperation and please direct any concerns to EHS at ext. 6112 or 


Environmental Health and Safety, partnering with our Department of Public Safety, Facilities Maintenance and Operations, and other dedicated personnel- will continually conduct the "Emergency Evacuation (Fire) Drills." Our objective is to maintain compliance with all local DC and International ordinances. The university routinely performs these drill procedures as required by local, federal, and international mandates. Environmental Health and Safety in also in conjunction with Facilities Maintenance/Operations, Res-Life, Housing, and Faculty, help to ensure the university remains in compliance with both university policy, related safety requirements, regulations, and best practices.

This activity is a controlled function purposed to facilitate our approved Emergency Response Plan (ERP) and may entail various types of emergency responses including Evacuation, Shelter in Place, and Active Shooter Drills.

In addition to the use of fire alarm notification devices. The university utilizes other measures to get our emergency response messages out as well. You may receive instructions via designated staff, the university mass communication "Blue Light” system, emails, DC and Rave Alerts, digital message boards, phones, and even social media with oversight from CUA administrators.

Once again, because drills are controlled activities, advanced notification will generally be limited on a need to know basis. Also from time to time there are occasions where local and federal officials may assist with particular operations. 

As always we rely upon the support of our campus community and the Brookland area proper to conduct these exercises. Our objective is the promotion of a more beneficial safety culture here so... "Be Prepared."

Looking for a little Inspiration???

Got just the thing for ya!! This is somewhat a departure from our usual fare here, but, change can be a good thing. Please follow the link to Fun with Nuns 

Are you Ready for The Next Generation?? There's one thing better than a little inspiration and that's more... Fun with Nuns II

EHS Department Engages in on going Facility Safety Inspections

Members of the Department of Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities Maintenance are continually conducting  campus Facility Safety Inspections for university academic and administrative halls. These procedures are not intended to be an exhaustive review of all possible unsafe conditions.

Members of the University community should promptly report unsafe conditions to Facilities, their Building Administrators, immediate supervisors,  and, or to EHS. 

Our intent is to uphold compliance standards as noted in CUA/EHS Environmental Safety Handbook, Catholic University policy and “Best Practices.” All listed violations are subject to current DC Municipal Regulations, International Code Council, DOT, DDOE, EPA, NFPA, OSHA Standards, and applicable State/Local/Federal Standards. Should you need clarification please contact (EH&S) at xts. 6112, 5500 or refer to the Environmental Health and Safety website (EHS.CUA.EDU).

How to Prepare for and Conduct Yourself during an Inspection  

  • Housekeeping, housekeeping, housekeeping. Appearances do matter.  If things look good, there is less temptation to look further. 
  • If you are required by regulations to do inspections or keep records, make sure they are organized and readily available. 
  • Be courteous to the inspector. 
  • Answer all questions truthfully. 
  • Do not argue with the inspector. 
  • Do not downplay the regulations and their importance.  

An Environmental Health and Safety staff member will escort all regulators, however,  Building Administrators or designees are welcome to accompany the inspection team and encouraged to forward this information to the staff members throughout their buildings.  

Please contact EHS at ext. 5500 or the Facilities Service Center (ext. 5121) if you have questions or concerns.   

The US Fire Administration's Fire Prevention Tips for Higher Education & Residential Properties

For quite sometime now the Media and Publications arm of the United States Fire Administration has continually provided their expertise to promote good basic Fire Safety practices. The normal focus for these notifications are for the general public welfare. Clearly this information can be applied to university settings as well. Here are some helpful tips to avoid common causes of fire. Follow the link below:

Safety Reminders  


CUA Rave Guardian Personal Safety Initiative

A recent change impacting how phone services -particularly how cell phone service can be enhanced to make emergency response times more efficient. This technology could be of interest to colleges and universities situated in urban communities.The tool and instructions are available at the Department of Public Safety Web page. Students may register for this initiative free of expense. For more information follow the link Rave Guardian 

Time to develop your personal escape plans

FEMA The Federal Emergency Agency/US Fire Administration has provided  a great escape plan for residential dwellings. If you have not given this consideration you will find this simple and straight forward video (follow the link above) a wonderful resource. 

To learn more about The Catholic University of America's specific Emergency Response Plan please follow this link (How We Manage Emergencies) to the Public Safety Website.  

The National Fire Protection Association

This organization has been at the forefront of Fire Safety Awareness in this country and Internationally for quite some time. In addition to it's far reaching impact upon national fire code regulations, standards and codes- NFPA also champions the cause of Public Fire Safety Education.  


As you can tell from the link below, EHS has an ongoing partnership with our Housing Services Department, Resident Life Programs and local safety officials. We also participate in the CUA Off-campus housing fair each spring semester.

Please refer to the following link for more details on  the fair and dedicated Housing Services Staff. 

Too frequently students and parents a-like fail to properly investigate off campus dwellings. There are a few simple measures that can be taken to help ensure better safety outcomes: 1) insist on sprinklered residences with at least 2 ways out, hardwired smoke detectors and, integrated fire Alarm systems for apartment buildings; 2) At the very least single rooms or existing houses should be equipped with hardwire smoke alarms which are interconnected throughout the building; 3) Verify that each dwelling is legally sanctioned by the municipality or agency responsible for the issuance of Rental licenses or Property Leases; 4) Check with the local Building Authority and Fire Marshal to determine what kind of track record your potential landlord has; 5) Always read your lease and know your rights; 6) Exercise good judgment; 7) Not sure? ASK!!! 

Take the time to follow this link for ED Comeau's Campus Fire Watch and FireHouse Magazine's article by Susan Nichol

See Heart-rending Personal Testimonies

  Fire Safety Tips

Over 85% of all campus related fire deaths occur in off-campus housing. With that in mind, consider the following safety tips and information when living off-campus: 

Tips for Avoiding Off-Campus Housing Fires

  • Make sure there are working smoke alarms  in all sleeping areas and hallways, stairwells, etc. Test the alarm to make sure it is working. If the dwelling does not have a smoke alarm, contact the DC Office of the Fire Marshal at 202-727-1600 to report no smoke alarm, or any fire code violation.
  • Know two ways out of every room. Make sure all windows will open. If bars are installed on the windows they must be releasable, or removable, from the inside. This must be accomplished without the use of a key, tool or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the window.
  • Have and practice an escape plan, and make sure all occupants understand. Have a common meeting point outside the dwelling. DO NOT re-enter the building once you have left. If you must leave your meeting area for any reason, ensure that the other residents know that you are out of the building and safe.
  • If your home uses gas or oil burning appliances (heating units, ovens, etc.) a Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm should be installed to alert residents to dangerous carbon monoxide levels.
  • Keep candles  away from flammable items and never leave one burning unattended.
  • Don’t overload extension cords and only used UL approved extension cords and power strips. Don’t "daisy chain" multiple power strips together (plug one into another).
  • Keep a UL-listed multipurpose fire extinguisher  in the home (Class ABC). Extinguishers should be mounted near an exit to avoid having to pass a fire in order to get to the extinguisher or exit the room/building. In an apartment, an extinguisher should be mounted in a cabinet or mounted on the wall in the hallway. Make sure extinguishers have a current inspection (commercial) or are not expired (in date) and fully charged.
  • If you use a space heater make sure it is UL approved and is not operating too close to combustible items including bedding and clothing. Maintain a minimum of 3 feet of clearance around space heaters when in use. Use only electric, or oil-filled electric heaters. Kerosene heaters are illegal to use in the District of Columbia.
  • The CUA Campus is a "Smoke Free" campus,but If you smoke (not within 25 feet of campus buildings) make sure all cigarettes are placed into ashtrays. Before dumping ashtrays, pour small amount of water to cover all smoking materials.
  • If your home has a fireplace, make sure all ashes are cleaned and place in approved containers.
  • Never put ashes in paper bags or dispose of close to dwellings.