New Project Gathers Fire-Related Statistics
November 18, 2009
The Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS) has created a data-collection service-The Campus Fire Data Project-to provide colleges and universities with statistical information that will help them improve fire safety and make other life safety improvements on their campuses. The online tool, which gathers data on fire-related incidents, also helps institutions comply with the new federal Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act and serves as a starting point for a nationwide campus fire-reporting program.
The Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act, passed as part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) in August 2008, requires colleges and universities to maintain data on fires in student housing and report such information to the federal government. Specifically, under HEOA, colleges and universities that provide on-campus student housing must maintain a fire log with details about all on-campus incidents and must issue an annual fire safety report. Final regulations issued on October 29 allow an institution to combine the fire safety report with its annual campus security report.
Currently, little is known regarding the nature of fires at colleges and universities across the country. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that approximately 3,300 fires occur annually at schools, but it has few details on the circumstances surrounding those fires. Information is often obtained from media sources, such as television reports or newspapers, rather than from the institutions themselves.
The Campus Fire Data Project will collect incident information directly from the institution or local fire department, using an all-inclusive report form to ensure greater accuracy. Officials at colleges and universities that participate in the project can store incident records in a national database, where the data will be reviewed, sorted, and analyzed. Reports are stored online and are easily accessible for printing or downloading. Institutions can use the data to help identify potential fire problems, ensure compliance with fire safety plans and policies, and assess the performance of protective systems.
To maintain the privacy and integrity of the data, CCFS does not release campus-specific incident information and makes the full database accessible only to CCFS program administrators. In addition, CCFS will not release detailed institutional information; only broad criteria-such as national, regional, campus size and type, and demographic characteristics-will be disclosed. The national data will be evaluated in early 2011 to identify emerging trends or areas of concern.
The Center for Campus Fire Safety is a nonprofit, membership organization devoted to reducing fires on college and university campuses and serves as a clearinghouse for information on fire safety. Development of the Campus Fire Data Project, funded by the Department of Homeland Security's Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Program, began in 2008, with the official launch on May 1, 2009.
To date, more than 100 colleges, universities, and fire departments have agreed to participate in the data-collection project. CCFS welcomes increased participation from all colleges and universities, fire departments that serve higher education institutions, and other related organizations. For more information or to register your institution or organization, please visit the Campus Fire Data website or read the full article in the November/December 2009 issue of the NFPA Journal.
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