The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently released its Structure Fires in Dormitories, Fraternities, Sororities, and Barracks report, which analyzed fires reported in the these facility types in the United States during the five year period of 2007 through 2011. During this time period, fire departments responded to an annual average of approximately 3,810 fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks, which resulted in an annual average of two civilian deaths, 30 injuries, and $9.4 million in property damage.

The research found that the months of September and October were peak months for reported fires in dormitory properties. Fires were also more commonly reported between the hours of 5 pm and 11 pm and less common between 3 am and 9 am. Fires were more common on Saturdays and Sundays, with 33% of fires taking place on these days.

The NFPA report found that 84% of reported dormitory structure fires involved cooking equipment, which continues to be a leading cause in residential fires. NFPA has developed many tools and resources, which are available for free to help educate the public regarding cooking fires and cooking safety tips. In addition, NFPA has developed campus fire safety tools that you might find helpful if you or a loved one is currently residing in a dormitory-type facility.

The NFPA report also found that the presence of automatic fire suppression equipment in dormitory-type facilities nearly doubled from 29% in 1994-1998 to 57% in 2007-2011. Wet sprinkler systems made up 95% of the type of automatic fire suppression equipment present in these facilities, which have helped to decrease property damage by 65% over those facilities where no automatic fire suppression equipment had been installed. To see how much difference a sprinkler system can make in regards to suppressing fire, please see this Dorm Room Burn Demonstration video.

Also, if you are interested in learning more about the devastating impact of campus-related fires, check out 9 Fires, a recent documentary developed by the Michael H. Minger Foundation. The video details nine campus-related fires that occurred just three weeks within each other between January and February 2012 and stresses the importance of the presence of fire prevention systems, as well as fire and life safety education.


By Jeff Harrington