Dear Fellow Floridians:
Many of our newsletter readers are parents; many are parents of current college students. As all parents know, the job of watching over your children never ends — no matter how old they get. As the father of four beautiful children, one currently in college, I understand the feeling firsthand.
September is Campus Fire Safety Month, and it offers us a wonderful opportunity to speak to our own students and students across Florida about the importance of fire safety on campus.
What does a conversation about fire safety sound like? For starters, do you know if your student has a fire extinguisher in his/her dorm room or apartment? If so, do they know how to use it? Do they know how to get out of a building using a route other than the elevator? These sound like simple questions, but they are very important ones to ask.
I’m proud to tell you that during the last academic year, no college-related fire deaths occurred in the United States, but we must continue to talk about this important subject in order to keep this critical number at zero.
Just ten years ago, 20 college students in our country died in college-related fires — a fact that is every parent’s nightmare. Since the start of 2000, that number jumps to 170 people — students, parents and teachers — who have died in college-related fires.
Thanks to awareness campaigns, we are starting to see these numbers drop. However, we must never take for granted that our students have the information they need to stay safe. We must always teach, always provide tools, and always encourage them to be aware of their surroundings at all times.
Fire safety education is proven to save lives, yet many college students rarely hear about it and it is rarely discussed. Many students haven’t received formal fire safety education since the "Stop, Drop and Roll" campaign taught in primary school.
It is vital to the safety of our next generation — our future, our best and brightest — that we do what we can to develop a generation of fire-safe adults.
Make sure your kids have extinguishers, make sure they understand their evacuation routes, and ensure that they test their smoke alarms every single month. These simple tips can — and do — save lives.
Let’s work together to accomplish this goal. Let’s combine our resources and amplify our effectiveness to the benefit of our own and all of Florida’s children.
To ensure that this important conversation continues, I presented a resolution during this week's meeting of the Florida Cabinet that officially marked September as Campus Fire Safety Month in Florida. As your Chief Financial Officer, I also have the pleasure of serving as Florida’s State Fire Marshal, and this week, I met again with fire and education leaders to see how we could work together to elevate this important conversation.
If you’re reading this and you have a college student or a student of any age, I hope you will open the lines of communication and talk with them about the importance of fire safety. It might just save their life one day.
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida