Firefighters reminding students of fire safety on and off campus

Hampshire County
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AMHERST (WWLP) – Fire officials are reminding college students about the dangers of fires on and off campus.

While students are gearing up for another school year, so are firefighters. Students are heading back to college, and UMass Amherst will once again be inundated with thousands of students which will increase the fire risk dramatically.

The Amherst Fire Department is reminding students to be aware of the dangers of fires on and off campus. The fire load here is significant,” Amherst Assistant Fire Chief, Jeff Olmstead said. “We don’t always have as much staff as we would like to take care of it.”

The most common cause of fires includes unattended candles and cooking. There have been nearly 3,000 fires on Massachusetts campuses in the last five years. However, as Olmstead pointed out, it’s not just on campus.

“We see that in the off-campus housing environment where it’s less regulated and less control over that so off-campus housing is always a big concern for us,” Chief Olmstead said.

While most colleges work to make sure dormitories have fire alarm systems and sprinklers where required, officials are most concerned about the safety of off-campus housing.

Every campus-related fire death in the past five years nationwide has been off-campus. In Massachusetts, two students died in off-campus housing fires in the last five years.

The first day of classes at UMass is September 3.

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