Each year, brothers return to school with clothes and other personal items that may include candles and smoking material. Burnables like these carry substantial health risk to the user and other residents.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that an estimated 18,000 home fires were started by candles in 2002, which included 130 fatalities and an estimated property loss of $333 million. 40% of home candle fires start in the bedroom and 18% of the fires occur when the candle was simply left unattended or controlled.
Smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. An NFPA report states that in 2001, 770 fire deaths from smoking occurred in the home resulting in $386 million in property damage.
The effects are real. In 2004, an unattended candle caused $1.2 million damage in a San Jose State chapter house. In 2005, three students were killed in a residence fire at Miami University caused by smoking. Ed Comeau, editor of Campus Fire Watch and former chief investigator for NFPA states, “…in Greek housing, the policy should be a No Smoking and No Candles.”
House corporations can and should prescribe both no smoking and no candle policies in rental agreements. Those provisions should include the stipulation that fire damage resulting from candle or smoking will be borne by the member(s) who caused it.
Placing cigarette waste disposal stations outside the building both encourages smokers to “take it outside” and a safe disposal site. A variety of options are including wall mounted and free standing are offered by Barco Products www.barcoproducts.com and other similar companies.
Providing safe housing is a key charge for all house corporations. To address this very real and urgent safety issue, establish and enforce no smoking and no candle policies and place personal accountability on those that violate them.