SPRINGFIELD – The Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) and Governor Pat Quinn urge college students and their families to pay attention to fire safety in student housing as they head off to College. Parents and students who may be signing apartment leases or moving into college dorms need to identify emergency exits and make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are properly installed and in working order.
“As parents, we expect our children to live in safe environments while in college. It is our responsibility to continue reminding them about fire safety and prevention,” said State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis. “Properly installed smoke detectors in good working order save lives and that’s the essence of the annual Look Up! safety campaign.”
Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed September 22, 2012 as the “LOOK UP!, Pay It Forward” Day in Illinois and September as Campus Fire Safety Month. Each year the campaign strives to inform college students about fire safety and to prevent serious injuries and fatalities caused by fires.
Students must look for working smoke detectors and CO alarms in their housing units, and exercise caution while cooking, grilling or using candles. Sofas and other pieces of flammable furniture should not be placed on porches, especially where grilling takes place.
Last month Governor Pat Quinn signed HB4757, a bill that requires fire sprinkler protection in on-campus dormitories at public, private colleges and universities across the State of Illinois. The plan, under the jurisdiction of the OSFM, will require all dormitories to be retrofitted with operational fire sprinklers by September 1, 2014. Facilities that violate the requirement could be fined up to $1,000 per day.
LOOK UP! was created in 2005 by Kathleen Moritz after her 22-year-old son, Tanner Osborn, along with two other students during an off-campus apartment fire in Chicago. In 2010, the tragedy inspired state officials to pass legislation requiring the installation of sprinkler systems in fraternity and sorority housing units.
The Governor’s proclamations highlight safety information related to smoke detectors, cooking, use of candles, and electrical outlets used by college students. Once a year, OSFM and LOOK UP! work in cooperation with Illinois colleges, universities, and Illinois fire departments to help spread the message of fire safety to college students.
This year the OSFM and LOOK UP! volunteers will be working with Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville on September 20th to distribute free smoke detectors to off-campus housing students, and they will canvass off-campus housing areas with fire safety information. Over the course of this program, more than 3,500 posters and other materials have been distributed to Illinois colleges, universities, fire departments and high schools.
Anyone interested in getting Look Up! posters and other informational materials should contact Jessica Blackford at Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org.
To obtain information about fire safety and prevention, please visit www.state.il.us/osfm or www.nfpa.org.