August 22, 2018

Burning building
Campus Fire Safety
Across the nation at institutions of higher education, students have already begun to arrive on campus for the start of this academic year. Established in 2005, and proclaimed annually by several states, September is Campus Fire Safety Month (CFSM), a time to raise awareness among parents, students, administrators, and legislators about the importance of fire safety. Between 2000 and 2016, 150 college/university-related fire fatalities (PDF) occurred off-campus: 10 in residence halls, 10 in Greek housing, and 2 in other locations. The annual number of fire fatalities in the academic year dropped from double to single digits in 2008-2009 and for the first time since 2000, there were zero fire-related deaths in the 2015-2016 academic year, a tremendous achievement and one to strive for every year.
Through the Town/Gown Fire Safety Community Service Project, First Alert, Campus Firewatch, and the Michael H. Minger Foundation partner with fire departments and universities across the country to raise awareness about fire safety among students and community members. The initial pilot project series proved successful across the country in 2017 leading to the continuation of the project this year. The project centers around students working with firefighters to perform home safety visits and install smoke alarms donated by First Alert. The project page includes a video of how one student was inspired by the project as well as several resources from various fire safety organizations.
In addition to Campus Fire Safety Month, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sponsors a public observance of Fire Prevention Week and has been doing so since 1922. This year's campaign, "Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere," works to educate people about three basic but essential steps to take to reduce the likelihood of having a fire, and how to escape safely in the event of one:
  • LOOK for places fire could start. Take a good look around your home. Identify potential fire hazards and take care of them.
  • LISTEN for the sound of the smoke alarm. You could have only minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Go to your outside meeting place, which should be a safe distance from the home and where everyone should know to meet.
  • LEARN two ways out of every room and make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.
Additional resources are available from these leading campus fire safety organizations: 
  • Campus Firewatch - What started out in 2000 as a monthly, electronic newsletter focusing on the complex issues of campus fire safety evolved into Campus Firewatch, a social enterprise working to improve fire safety at schools and in communities.
  • Michael H. Minger Foundation - Founded after the death of Michael Minger in an arson fire at Murray State University in Kentucky, the Minger Foundation has developed many fire safety projects, including a Resident Assistants or RA Guide to Teaching Fire Safety (PDF) and a series of short videos featuring students with disabilities talking about fire safety from their points of view.
  • National Fire Protection Association - NFPA's Campus and Dorm Fires web page lists CFSM partnership and campaign information and resources, safety tip sheets and infographics, statistics, and videos about keeping exits clear and extension cord/power strip safety.
  • The Center for Campus Fire Safety - Their CFSM web page includes several safety tip sheets as well as a video of campus fire safety tips for students from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
  • U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) - USFA provides information resources in many formats, including books, pamphlets, and DVD's, free of charge. Specific to colleges and universities, they have created a campus fire safety pamphlet, flyers on 10 topics, and a poster
Visit to access a college student's guide to fire safety and education that outlines risk factors and examines school and student responsibilities for students living on campus, off campus, and in Greek housing.

OVC and IACP Partner to Enhance Response to Victims
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) announced a new effort this spring, Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims (ELER). The ELER strategy, which requires no additional staff or funding, addresses the seven critical needs of victims that are safety, support, information, access, continuity, voice, and justice. Law enforcement has learned over time that placing victims' interests at the center of response to crime helps all parties: law enforcement develops trust with residents in neighborhoods, victims who are treated with sensitivity and respect are more likely to cooperate in the investigation of crimes, and a victim who is comfortable and therefore cooperative with law enforcement can increase the likelihood that perpetrators are arrested and successfully prosecuted. For the purposes of this project, the following definition of a victim is used: A victim of crime is a person who has been injured either physically or emotionally due to the occurrence of a crime. Victims include individuals who have been direct targets of violence or property loss or damage, their family members, and people who experience emotional trauma as a result of witnessing such an incident.
Four volumes of information were developed by the project advisory group and were informed by four national information-gathering forums and three agencies that piloted the strategies. Eight additional sites validated the strategies and were supported by project consultants as well as OVC and IACP staff and leadership. An overview of the project can be viewed on video.
Volume one is Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims:21st Century Strategy (PDF). This document discusses the evolution of enhanced victim response, summarizes its four core elements (leadership, partnering, training, and performance monitoring), identifies the seven critical needs of victims, and illustrates the potential of community partnerships.
Volume two, the ELER Implementation Guide (PDF), consists of four instructive sections that outline the steps to implement the strategy. It instructs law enforcement agencies how to identify their goals and measurements of success, gather pertinent information, develop action plans and performance monitoring approaches, and sustain the effort in the long term.
Volume three is the ELER Resource Toolkit (PDF), which is designed to aid in the implementation of the steps in the Implementation Guide. It includes sample documents, templates, mission statements, action plans, and more that can be modified for your department's use. It also contains links to numerous victim-related resources.
Volume four is the ELER Training Supplement (PDF). The Training Supplement provides law enforcement agencies with content that can be customized to provide every agency employee, from recruit to executive, with specific knowledge, skills, abilities, and tools to better respond to victims of crime. It outlines victim response enhancements that can be integrated into all existing basic and advanced law enforcement curricula and utilized with a minimum investment.
IACP also provides an introductory webinar, downloadable resources, implementation tools, and a series of four victim response videos on its victim response website. For additional question, please contact IACP directly via email.

Professional Development Opportunities
Title: Victim Safety and Offender Accountability: The Intimate Partner Violence Interventions
Organization: Battered Women's Justice Project
Date: August 28, 2018 at 1:00 PM CT
Location: Online
Fee: Free
Title: Leave No Victim Behind: Best Practices for Mass Violence Response and Tribal Communities
Organizations: University of Oregon Police Department, California Victim Compensation Board, and Oregon Department of Justice
Dates: September 5-7, 2018
Location: Eugene, OR
Fee: Registration fee
Title: Campus Fire Forum 2018
Organization: The Center for Campus Fire Safety
Dates: November 5-8, 2018
Location: San Antonio, TX
Fee: Registration fee

For additional trainings and events, access our searchable online calendar

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This project was supported by Grant No. 2013-MU-BX-K011 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.
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