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Mississippi Colleges Stress Fire Safety

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 26 Sep 2011 05:21pm | comments
A fire alarm at Jackson State University.

Every year, several college students around the country die in campus fires. September is campus fire safety awareness month in Mississippi and, as MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports, colleges are having to reach off campus to make students safer.

'We can't have toasters or hot plates or anything like that in the building because of fire safety I guess,"

That's Jackson Statefreshman  Darione Bornwell explaining what restrictions her school has in place to reduce the likelihood of a fire in the dorms.

Colleges and Universities around the state are using the start of a new school year to teach their students...many of whom are living on their own for the first time......about fire safety.

To help students prepare for and prevent fires, Jackson State Director of Support services Curtis Johnson says the school provides education seminars and materials on fire safety....especially to students in off campus housing.

"There are some other factors that come into place, such as knowing, outside of education, making sure that you have the right connection and making sure you live in a facility that meets all of the safety standards and fire standard codes. So it is combination of education and making sure that you are in a safe place," Johnson said.

In 2004, three students at the University of Mississippi died when their fraternity house caught fire. That fire was ruled accidental but the tragedy sparked a new state law allowing state officials to inspect fraternity and sorority houses.

Campus Fire safety expert Ed Cameau says more fires happen off campus because schools have no control over the quality of the housing.

"The house tends to be older, shall we say tired. Students don't have as much supervision there. Alcohol is certainly an issue. Missing and disabled smoke alarms. And we are seeing a real issue with couch fires on front porches, where they catch fire and spread into the house," Cameau said.

During the last school year, there were six fatal fires on college campus nationally... since 2000 more then 150 students have died in fires.

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A fire alarm at Jackson State University.


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