University of Pittsburgh
August 23, 2005

Pitt Completes $15 Million Comprehensive Fire Safety Project in All Undergraduate Housing

Project completed ahead of legislation, in time for "Campus Fire Safety Month"
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—With the installation of sprinkler systems in its fraternity complex and Forbes Craig Apartments this summer, the University of Pittsburgh has completed a five-year, $15 million fire suppression project that protects all 6,300 residents occupying nearly 2 million square feet of undergraduate student housing on its Pittsburgh campus.

"This is all part of the University's commitment to a safe and enjoyable educational experience for our students," said Jerome Cochran, executive vice chancellor at Pitt. "Though sprinklers are not required by law in existing residence halls constructed before 1990, we recognized their importance in providing our resident students with the safest possible living environments."

The comprehensive fire suppression systems, which consist of fire detection devices, automatic sprinklers, and alarms directly linked to response personnel, are part of an overall fire safety plan that includes training and education for students and resident advisors.

"While the fire suppression systems are important, equally important are the educational and training sessions we provide our students," added Cochran. "It's important for residents to know evacuation procedures and routes, and how the safety devices in their residences work."

"Combining our training programs and systems with the fact that, as an urban University, we enjoy the protection of one of the finest professional fire companies, we believe that Pitt has a well-protected campus, in terms of fire safety," Cochran continued.

In upcoming legislative sessions, federal lawmakers are considering two campus fire safety-related initiatives: one that would create incentives for colleges and universities to install sprinkler systems in campus housing, and the other, a fire safety right-to-know act. In addition, the U.S. Congress is expected to designate September as "Campus Fire Safety Month."

"Automatic fire sprinklers, fire alarms, and fire prevention education are three of the most effective tools when it comes to providing a fire-safe environment for today's students," said Ed Comeau, director of the national nonprofit Center for Campus Fire Safety. "Too often we have seen the tragic results that occur in housing without these life-saving programs in place. We encourage parents to look for schools that have demonstrated their commitment to fire safety by installing automatic fire sprinkler and fire alarm systems in all student housing and have a comprehensive fire safety program."

The Center for Campus Fire Safety cites lack of automatic sprinklers and missing or disabled smoke alarms as two contributing factors to deaths in student housing across the nation.

# # #

8/24/05/blg