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Department of Public Safety

Fire Safety

Each year 4,500 Americans die and more then 30,000 are injured in fires, many of which could be prevented.

General Facts about Fire:

  • Fire doubles in size every 30 seconds.
  • Over 2 million fires are reported to fire departments each year.
  • There is over $10 billion in property damage each year due to fire, despite the use of sprinklers and smoke alarms.
  • North America has the worst fire death rate in the industrialized world.
  • Fires kill more citizens than floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes combined.
  • In deadly home fires, 14% had working smoke detectors and alarms.
  • Smoke detectors failed to operate in 44% of reported fires. You should change the batteries in a detector every 6 months.
  • We lose our sense of smell when we are sleeping.
  • Almost 40% of fire victims die in their sleep.

Fires on College Campuses:
In cases where fire fatalities occurred on college campuses, alcohol was a factor. There is a strong link between alcohol and fire deaths. In more than 50% of adult fire fatalities, victims were under the influence at the time of the fire. Alcohol abuse often impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts. Cooking is the leading cause of fire injuries on college campuses, closely followed by careless smoking and arson.

General Fire Information:
Do you know what to do if there is a fire in your dorm?

  • If the smoke alarm sounds and you see smoke, gently drop to your knees.
  • Call "FIRE" to alert everyone. Assist anyone who cannot exit on their own.
  • Crawl along the floor. The most breathable air will be between 12 to 24 inches from the floor. Exit quickly.
  • Check a door carefully before opening. Reach up as high as possible and place the back of your hand over the space between the door and it's frame, then touch the handle. If there is no sign of heat and no smoke around the door, open it carefully. If the door is hot or there is smoke around it, leave it closed and use the second exit. Before opening a window make sure the door to the room is closed.
  • Close the doors you pass as you follow the exit plan. This can help slow down the fire.
  • Go to your planned meeting place as quickly as you can and check in with your RA. NEVER go back into a burning building.
  • Call Public Safety (x4441) from another dorm or an emergency phone. Meet the officers when they arrive. Tell them if anyone is still inside the dorm and where they may be found, and how and where the fire started.

The Fire Triangle:
Four things must be present at the same time in order to produce fire:

  1. Enough oxygen to sustain combustion
  2. Enough heat to raise the material to its ignition temperature
  3. Some sort of fuel or combustible material
  4. The chemical, exothermic reaction that is fire

Oxygen, heat, and fuel are frequently referred to as the "fire triangle." Add in the fourth element, the chemical reaction, and you actually have a fire "tetrahedron." The important thing to remember is: take any of these four things away, and you will not have a fire or the fire will be extinguished.

Essentially, fire extinguishers put out fire by taking away one or more elements of the fire triangle/tetrahedron.

Fire safety, at its most basic, is based upon the principle of keeping fuel sources and ignition sources separate.

If you would like more information about fire safety and prevention, please contact the Pepperdine University Department of Public Safety Fire Department at (310) 506-4997.