Fire Safety Strategies

Know Two Ways Out

One of the most basic fire survival skills is knowing how to get out of wherever you may be. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that the vast majority of people will attempt to exit a building through the door they are most familiar with and routinely use – even when other exits may be closer or a better choice. State fire inspectors often ask people during an inspection “How would you get out if your primary exit was not available?” and the answer is all to often, “I don’t know.”

Take a minute right now to locate and familiarize yourself with a second (and third) exit from wherever you are. It could be time well spent. Each of us shares in the responsibility for our personal safety. Learning how and where to get out is a significant part.

§F406.3.2 Evacuation Training – “Employees shall be familiarized with the fire alarm and evacuation signals, their assigned duties in the event of an alarm or emergency, evacuation routes, areas of refuge, exterior assembly areas, and procedures for evacuation.”

Safety for Portable Heaters

Portable electric heaters have grown in popularity over the past two decades. While they can be an efficient way to warm a room or supplement central heating, portable electric heaters can also be a fire or electrical shock hazard if not used properly. Many of the fires and resulting damage can be prevented by moving portable heaters away from nearby combustible materials and then turning the heater off when not in the room or area.The 2010 Fire Code of New York State addresses the installation, operation, and maintenance of portable electric space heaters in §605.10:

  • 605.10.1 – Listed & Labeled
    • “Only listed and labeled portable, electric space heaters shall be used.”
  • 605.10.2 – Power Supply
    • “Portable, electric space heaters shall be plugged directly into an approved receptacle.”
  • 605.10.3 – Extension Cords
    • “Portable, electric space heaters shall not be plugged into extension cords.”
  • 605.10.4 – Prohibited Areas
    • “Portable, electric space heaters shall not be operated within 3 feet of any combustible materials.”

Off-Campus Fire Safety

Since 2000, 85% of fatal fires on college campuses have occurred in off-campus housing. A high priority should always be placed on fire safety when looking for a new place to live off-campus.

Fire Safety Statistics

  • 94% of fatal campus fires occurred off-campus.
  • Alcohol was a factor in 76% of fatal campus fires.
  • Smoke detectors were either missing or tampered with (batteries removed) in 58% of fatal campus fires.
  • Fire sprinklers were not present in any of the 85 fatal campus fires.
  • 70% of fatal campus fires occurred on the weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
  • 73% of the fatal fires occurred between midnight and 6 a.m.

Practice Safe Cooking

  • #1 cause of fires in student housing is cooking.
  • NEVER leave food cooking unattended.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing and reaching over open flames .
  • Keep the stove area free from clutter and flammable items.
  • Never throw water on a grease fire. Keep a lid handy to smother flames.
  • Keep the area underneath and around the burners clean and clear of grease.
  • Never cook while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
  • If there is a fire in the oven, close the door and turn off the heat.
  • Always turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen.
  • It is best to have a fire extinguisher mounted in your kitchen within reaching distance of the stove. Make sure you know how to use before you attempt to extinguish a fire.


  • Make sure candles are in sturdy holders and put out after each use.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.
  • Never fall asleep when burning a candle.
  • Always use a flashlight — not a candle — for emergency lighting.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
  • Use flameless candles, which are both safe and attractive.


  • DO NOT overload electrical circuits.
  • Avoid using extension cords.
  • Consider using a power strip with a breaker.


  • If smoking is allowed in your apartment, ensure it is done in a safe manner.
  • NEVER smoke in bed or if you’ve had too much to drink.
  • Use a deep, sturdy ashtray. Place it away from anything that can burn.
  • Before you throw away butts and ashes, make sure they are out (dousing in water or sand is the best way to do that).

Smoke Detection

  • The first thing you should look for when looking at a potential apartment is if it has smoke detectors.
  • New York State fire code requires your landlord to provide and maintain the smoke detectors in your apartment.
  • Make sure there is a working smoke detector on every level and in bedrooms.
  • TEST THEM REGULARLY! At least monthly.
  • Never disable or tamper with the smoke detectors.
  • If your smoke detector goes off, take it seriously, leave the building and call 911.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection

  • Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is created when fuels burn incompletely.
  • If you have fuel burning or gas appliances, your landlord is required by New York State law to install and maintain CO detectors in your apartment.
  • A CO detector should be installed on every floor and near every sleeping area.
  • If your CO detector goes off, get to fresh air ASAP and call 911.

Sprinkler System

  • The most effective fire loss prevention and reduction measure for both life and property is the installation and maintenance of fire sprinklers.
  • Fire sprinkler systems offer the greatest level of fire safety because they control the fire immediately in the room of origin, help limit the spread of fire, and often extinguish the fire before the fire department arrives.
  • The combination of working smoke detectors and fire sprinklers reduces the likelihood of dying in a fire by more than 82%.