According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments respond to approximately 5,690 fires at education buildings each year. These fires caused an annual 85 civilian injuries and $92 million in direct property damage. Almost a quarter of all school fires are started intentionally. Safety education and preparation should be a priority for every family and school official.

E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety offers these tips to play it safe as children and adolescents return to school:

  • Fire drills should be held at least once a month while school is in session (weather permitting).
  • Principals, teachers or other school staff must inspect all exits daily to ensure that stairways, doors, and other exits are working properly and are unblocked.
  • On the day of the drill, the emergency drill alarm should be sounded on the school fire alarm system. Make sure everyone can recognize the sound of the alarm and knows what to do when it sounds.
  • Teachers, officials, and staff should be familiar with the school’s fire protection system, including the location of fire alarms pull stations and sprinklers.
  • Every room in the school should have a map posted identifying two ways out. In schools with open floor plans, exit paths should be obvious and kept free of obstruction.
  • On the day of the fire drill, everyone in the school should participate.
  • Students with specific needs should be assigned an adult or a student buddy to assist them. Fire drills are a good opportunity to identify who among the student population requires extra assistance.
  • While it’s important to make sure that students leave the building as quickly as possible, order is more important than speed when it comes to conducting a safe fire drill.
  • Use the class rosters to ensure every student is accounted for.
  • Fire drills should be held both at expected and at unexpected time, and under varying conditions in order to simulate the conditions that can occur in an actual emergency.
  • School fire drills are a model for students to use in their homes. Encourage students to practice their escape plans at home – just as they do at school

If a student engages in firesetting or other negative high risk taking behavior, contact your local fire department or visit for a list of West Michigan Fire Department based Youth Firesetting Prevention and Intervention programs.

College Fire Safety

While the above tips focus mostly on elementary, middle and high schools, they can also apply to college buildings, where firefighters respond to about 3,810 fires each year – 88% of which are due to cooking mishaps. Here’s a college-level course in fire prevention:

On-campus precautions

  • Cook only in designated areas
  • Keep cooking areas clean and free of clutter
  • Never leave cooking unattended
  • In case of a fire inside a microwave, close the door and unplug the unit

Campus lab precautions

  • Never leave lab experiments or pressure vessels unattended
  • Keep flammable gases and chemicals away from heat

Off-campus precautions

  • Be sure each bedroom has a working smoke alarm
  • Make sure the building sprinkler system is well maintained
  • Building heating and fire-prevention systems need to be checked annually by fire officials

General precautions

  • Identify the two closest exits and all possible evacuation routes
  • Know locations of fire alarms and how to use them
  • Report vandalized fire equipment to campus security

Fire Prevention Week is recognized each October. However, fire safety should be practiced 365 days a year. Whether you’re at home, in the office or at school, safety should come first. Do your part to protect yourself and those around you Where You Live!



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – The City of Grand Rapids Fire Department wants to make sure you’re safe in your home!  Carly Munoz, WOTV 4 Women crew member, recently took the time to schedule an appointment to have them come and install free smoke detectors in her Grand Rapids home.  It was such an awesome experience for her and her kids!   Her kids were delighted to see a big red fire engine pull up next to their driveway and to have several firefighters come inside their home.

The firefighters were professional, fun and great with the kids.  Munoz said, “I know what you’re thinking. Firefighters are coming inside my home?  EEK!  I’d have to clean up and what if they see something that maybe we’re doing wrong or is installed wrong… then what?”  It wasn’t like that at all.  They were coming in with the sole intent to keep her family safe.  They talked with the kids, they determined where they alarms needed to be placed and asked for the family’s input on installation locations and options.


They didn’t care about stepping over the kids toys, or the major pileup of clutter in my furnace room.  They did run through some tips and safety pointers with Carly at the end, which she appreciated.  Quick little bits of information that are good for homeowners to know to prevent a fire.  They told her to make sure to consistently clean her lint trap on her dryer, to maybe push that “clutter pile” back away from the furnace so nothing catches fire, and to make sure the grill is away from the garage when her family barbecues so nothing goes up in flames other than the steaks.  She actually found it really helpful!

They didn’t charge her or expect anything in return.  They even let the kids come out to the fire truck for a tour and pics when they were done!  Bonus!


How to sign up:


Reside within the City of Grand Rapids
Be a home owner, residing within the dwelling.
Rentals do not qualify at this time.
Homeowners can ensure their safety by scheduling an appointment. Contact us at 311

Not a GR resident? Call to set up an appointment within your area through Operation Save A Life: 1.844.978.4400

LIST: West Michigan Smoke Detector Installation Programs

An Ottawa County fire chief has a warning for all West Michigan residents, after responding to multiple fires sparked by the same mistake.

“What we’ve been starting to see out here is the discarding of fire pit ashes into trash cans,” said Georgetown Township Fire Chief Dan Hamming.

Hamming said a July 23 fire that gutted a home on Briar Lane was one of eight blazes his department handled this year that was caused by ashes that were improperly disposed of.

“We had one resident say that I put my hand on it and it was cool,” Hamming recollected.

Ashes that appear cool on the surface can remain hot at their center.

“Those type of ashes can lay there dormant for 24, 36, to 48 hours,” explained Hamming.

Dumping those ashes into a garbage can made of a petroleum-based plastic and filled with other plastic and paper products is a recipe for fire. Since many homeowners keep their garbage cans in the garage or alongside their house, the fire has time to grow before a homeowner notices it.

Hot grills positioned close to a home also pose a risk; the radiant heat can ignite vinyl siding.

“What we want to do is get the word out to not only Georgetown Township residents, but to West Michigan: be careful with your fire pit, fireplace ashes,” advised Hamming.

The fire chief says the safest way to dispose of ashes is to dump them in a bucket filled with water and let the mix sit outside for a couple of days. Another method is to dig a hole and bury the ashes, Hamming said.


Fire Safety Online Resources:

National Fire Protection Association – Overall fire problem

National Fire Protection Association – Home grill fires