Campus Fire Statistics and Incidents

Industrial Fire
Apr 12,2024

Fires on college campuses present a significant safety concern, with a majority of incidents occurring offsite rather than within the confines of the campus itself:

Source: NFPA

Interestingly, statistics reveal a promising trend in on-campus fire safety, as the number of fires in dormitory-type properties has nearly halved from 2012 to 2021:

Source: NFPA

In this article, we will explore the statistics and details surrounding fire incidents on college campuses, offering insights that can assist individuals in making well-informed choices.

Reasons for Campus Fires

Surprisingly, these are the primary reasons for campus fires, as reported by the Red Center:

  • Smoking (29 percent) was the leading cause of fatal campus fires.
  • Alcohol was a factor in 76 percent of fatal campus fires.
  • Approximately 25% of all campus fires follow a party.
  • Arson is the second leading cause of campus fires.

Timing of Campus Fires 

70 percent of fatal fires occur on the weekend when students are more likely to engage in social activities that may include behaviors that increase fire risk.

Furthermore, 73 percent of the fatal fires occurred between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., a timeframe commonly associated with the aftermath of partying when vigilance is low.

Additionally, January stands out for having the highest property damage related to fires.

Source: NFPA

Fire Safety Equipment Concerns

One of the most alarming findings in campus fire safety is the status of smoke alarms in the event of fatal fires.

In 58 percent of fatal campus fires, smoke alarms were found to be either missing entirely or tampered with, such as being disconnected or having their batteries removed.

Equally concerning is the absence of fire sprinkler systems. Reports indicate that none of the 85 fatal campus fires had fire sprinklers installed.

Campus Fires and Fatality 

According to the Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS), from January 2000 to the present, 94 fatal fires have occurred on college campuses, in Greek housing, or in nearby off-campus housing, claiming 134 lives:

  • Off-campus housing fires: 80 incidents with 114 victims.
  • On-campus buildings/residence halls: 8 incidents with 10 victims.
  • Greek housing: 6 incidents with 10 victims.

Out of these fires:

  • 14 were arson, causing 22 fatalities.
  • 38 were accidental, including cooking, candles, smoking, or electrical issues, with 51 deaths.
  • For 42 fires, the cause was undetermined or not reported, resulting in 61 deaths.


Fire safety on college campuses is crucial. The data underscores the need for increased awareness, better safety measures, and comprehensive fire prevention education.

Higher education institutions and students must collaborate to foster a safety culture. Prioritizing the availability and functionality of fire safety equipment can significantly reduce fire incidents.

Ultimately, both students and colleges are responsible for minimizing fire risks, particularly concerning smoking and alcohol use, and maintaining vigilance toward safety.

About the Author

Industrial Fire

We are a family-owned and operated business. Industrial Fire has proudly served Houston, Texas, for over seven decades. Fire protection technology has changed a lot since we started doing business in 1945. Still, one thing hasn’t changed, our commitment to providing our neighbors in Houston, TX, with the best fire protection services and equipment available.