SPRINGFIELD – As thousands of college students are heading out to different campuses across the state, the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal is reminding parents and students to keep fire safety awareness in their list of priorities, even after they completed their fall 2011 housing contracts. To build awareness about campus fire safety, Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed September as Campus Fire Safety Month and September 22, 2011 as the “LOOK UP! Pay It Forward” Day in Illinois.
Administered through the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM), the awareness campaign seeks to inform all college students about fire safety and to prevent serious injuries and fatalities.
“LOOK UP!, Pay It Forward” Day was created in 2005 by Kathleen Moritz after her 22-year-old son, Tanner Osborn, and two other students died during an off-campus apartment fire in Chicago. The tragedy inspired state officials to pass legislation last year requiring the installation of sprinkler systems in fraternity and sorority housing units.
“College life could be a very busy period for students; therefore they need to be reminded about fire safety and prevention,” said Larry Matkaitis, Illinois State Fire Marshal. “Students and parents need to ‘LOOK UP!’ to ensure that smoke detectors are properly installed and operational in every single unit.”
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 fire departments to spread the message of fire safety to college students.
This year the OSFM and LOOK UP! have designated September 22, 2011 as the “Pay It Forward Day” at DePaul University in Chicago. Part of the day includes distribution of free smoke detectors to off-campus housing students. Volunteers will canvass all off campus housing areas with fire safety information. Over the course of this program, more than 3,000 posters and additional information have been distributed to Illinois colleges and universities.
The OSFM will again this year be distributing LOOK UP! posters to Illinois colleges and universities, fire departments, and high schools. Those interested, please send an email with the number of posters needed, name, agency, mailing address and phone number to Jessica Blackford at Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org.
To obtain information about fire safety and prevention, please visit http://www.sfm.illinois.gov.