FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, September 5, 2019

State Fire Marshal Provides Important Information for Students for Campus Fire Safety Month

TRENTON, NJ – As students return to New Jersey colleges and universities and settle into their dorm rooms or off-campus apartments, the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety (NJDFS) joins with administrators and educators throughout the state to caution students about the dangers of fire during National Campus Fire Safety Month.

“Governor Murphy and I join in the excitement of seeing New Jersey’s colleges bustling with activity after summer break as students start returning to campus. We want to make sure this school year is productive, fun and safe,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). “Being on high alert when it comes to fire safety and paying close attention to your surroundings can help save the lives of you and your classmates.”

“New Jersey has the most stringent dormitory fire sprinkler law in the nation. As a result of the tragic dormitory fire at Seton Hall University in 2000, all in-state college dormitories are mandated to have fire sprinkler suppression protection,” said Richard Mikutsky, NJDFS Director and State Fire Marshal. “However, many students opt to reside off campus and thus lose the protection the law is meant to provide for students in on-campus residences and we want to make sure college students on and off campus know and understand basic fire safety to keep them safe throughout the school year.”

Colleges that offer housing nationwide must have a fire safety report in accordance with the Clery Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which are federal laws that require schools to report fire incidents and provide public access to the reports.

Safety Tips from the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.
  • Make sure you can hear the building alarm system when you are in your dorm room.
  • If you live in a dormitory, make sure your sleeping room has a smoke alarm. Dormitory suites must have a smoke alarm in each living area as well as the sleeping rooms. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the dormitory suite should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • If you live in an apartment or house, make sure smoke alarms are installed in each sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the apartment unit or house.
  • As of January 1, 2019, all dwellings, including one-and two-family dwellings, motel rooms, and housing units in rooming houses, are required to have 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms installed.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least monthly and never remove batteries or disable the alarm.
  • Learn your building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
  • If you live off campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
  • When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out of the building quickly and stay out.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking and cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or alcohol.
  • Check with your local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or chimenea.
  • Check your school’s rules before using electrical appliances in your room.

Off-Campus Housing

In preparation for living in off-campus housing, both parents and students should research any residence in advance and have the following questions ready to be answered by building managers:

  • Where are the smoke alarms and/or carbon monoxide detectors located on each level and in adjacent sleeping areas?
  • Are there fire doors?
  • Are there safe fire escapes?  If so, where are they located?
  • Are evacuation instructions posted in common areas?
  • Has the residence had a recent local fire inspection?  Always ask to see their records.

If the building management is unwilling or unable to answer these questions, then it is in your best interest to find housing that will provide this information. You may contact the local fire official located within the municipality of the residence to ask about recent inspections. If the residence is a multifamily dwelling, you should also ask if fires have occurred there in the past.

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in New Jersey. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing community risk reduction strategies and firefighter training programs.

For more information about DCA, visit or follow the Department on social media:     

   DCa on Twitter

Tammori Petty
Gina Trish
Lisa Ryan
(609) 292-6055