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Gallagher Urges Fire Safety in Colleges and Universities


CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE-After learning today of an early morning fraternity house fire at the University of Mississippi which killed three students, Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who also serves as State Fire Marshal, is urging public and private colleges and universities in the state to advise students in on-campus housing about the dangers of fire.

In the last two weeks, representatives from Gallagher's office have been hand-delivering instructional materials to schools statewide, including a fire-safety video message aimed at students living in dorms, fraternity and sorority houses, and off-campus housing. Gallagher also urged college officials to include fire-safety instruction in orientation classes.

"Thousands of students across the state are returning to college campuses this month, and fire-safety is probably the last thing they'll think about," Gallagher said. "The unfortunate reality is that fire is a very real danger. That's why we've asked college and university presidents to make fire safety a priority to protect our students."

Fire safety specialists from the State Fire Marshal's Office also will visit university campuses during Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 3-9, to provide information and answer student questions.

Gallagher today offered the following fire-prevention and safety tips:

§ If fire strikes, get out and stay out. Wherever you are, follow directions or plans and go to the nearest exit.
§ Have a fire extinguisher handy in your kitchen, sleeping area, garage, car and boat.
§ Make a fire escape plan. Draw a basic diagram of your home. Consider various fire scenarios and develop actions for a safe escape.
§ Keep exits clear of debris and furniture.
§ Crawl low under smoke to reduce smoke inhalation and go to the nearest exit.
§ Use electricity safely. Replace worn cords and don't overload cords or outlets.
§ Take care with lighted candles and cigarettes. Never leave a candle unattended or near anything that could catch fire.
§ Be careful cooking. Things can easily catch fire in the kitchen. Keep the handles of pots turned inward and keep paper and cloth away from the stove.
§ Give portable heaters plenty of space and keep drapes, sheets and blankets away. Unplug the heater when you leave the room.

The State Fire Marshal's instructional video message can be viewed online at