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Putting an End to Fatal Fires in College Housing


Kerry Rose Foundation Launches Pilot Fire Safety Awareness Program on Long Island for Stony Brook University Students in Off-Campus Housing

Over 3,800 College Housing Fires Threaten Student Lives Every Year

Firefighters all across the U.S. respond to an average of 3,810 fires at college residence halls and Greek housing each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1kr_graph

To help combat this dangerous statistic on the local level, Kerry Rose Foundation has presented Stony Brook University with a $10,000 grant to create fire programs for students living in off-campus university housing.

The funds will create new fire safety events for students to be held starting in the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters. In partnership with Stony Brook Fire Safety, the Kerry Rose Foundation is also calling upon Stony Brook students to submit videos of new smoke detectors being installed before May 1. Five $100 gift cards will be awarded at random to those who participate.

In 2012 Marist College student Kerry (Rose) Fitzimons perished in an off-campus house fire along with two college friends. This tragedy led the family to act, so others would not experience their loss. Following her death, Kerry’s family and friends created a non-profit in her memory, the Kerry Rose Foundation. The Foundation brings awareness to university-aged students and their families about college and university housing fire safety issues and advocates for the increased use of fire detection and sprinkler systems.


Fatal college and university housing fires have become all too common in the U.S. Since 2000, there have been 169 campus-related fire fatalities, according to Campus Firewatch2. College housing often has a higher tenant density, with regular overuse of extension cords and halogen lamps as well as overloading of electrical sockets. Roughly 70 percent of fires in college housing begin in cooking areas, according to the NFPA1. While just 7 percent start in bedrooms, those account for 27 percent of injuries and 21 percent of all property damage.

Kerry Rose Foundation was instrumental in the passing of New York State’s Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act in July 2013 that requires New York colleges to provide written information on fire safety and sprinkler systems to students residing in college-owned or operated housing.

In May 2014, U.S. Representative Steve Israel (D-Long Island, NY-3) introduced similar federal legislation that would require colleges to report the number and percentage of beds protected and not protected by an automatic fire sprinkler system.

“There are more than 21 million college students in the United States, and unfortunately many of them are living in housing without fire sprinklers, smoke detectors and other critical fire safety protections,” said Bobby Fitzimons, founder of the Kerry Rose Foundation. “Through Stony Brook’s new fire safety programs and events, we are enthusiastic to help bring awareness to University students about the importance of fire safety, which can save their lives.”

“With more than one million college students attending school in New York State, it’s vital that each student understands about the critical importance of proper fire protection systems in college housing. The passage of the 2013 New York State Kerry Rose Fire Protection Act was only a first step in protecting every college student in New York. This important grant helps advance the fight to protect more college-aged students,” said Pat Dolan, president of Steamfitters Local 638.

“We are honored to be working with the Kerry Rose Foundation to expand essential programming and resources related to off-campus fire safety. The grant will support fire safety products and education for students living in off-campus residences. It is an honor to conduct these efforts in Kerry Rose’s memory,” said Emily Resnick, assistant director of Commuter Student Services and Off-Campus Living at Stony Brook University.


1Campbell, Richard. “Structure Fires in Dormitories, Fraternities, Sororities and Barracks.” National Fire Protection Association Fire Analysis and Research Division, August 2013. Web. 8 April 2015.

2Campus Firewatch. “Campus Fire Safety Information Sheet.” Campus Firewatch, 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 8 April 2015. 

Kerry Rose Foundation Check

Photo: Kerry Rose Foundation Presenting Oversized $10,000 Check to Stony Brook University

Bottom Row: Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (Town of Brookhaven), Kerry Rose Foundation BOD Member and FDNY Chief of Special Operations Bob Seelig, Kerry Rose Foundation Founder Robert Fitzimons, Stony Brook University Associate Dean and Director of Student Life Sue DiMonda, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-5), Stony Brook University Assistant Director of Commuter Student Services and Off-Campus Living Team Emily Resnick, Stony Brook University Director of Environmental Health & Safety Gary Kaczmarczyk, and Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine

Middle Row: Kerry Rose Foundation President and Co-Founder Maryanne Fitzimons, Stony Brook University Director of Community Relations Joan Dickinson, Suffolk County Fire Commissioner Joseph Williams, National Fire Sprinkler Association New York Regional Manager Dominick Kasmauskas

Top Row: Stony Brook University Manager for Fire Safety John Gallo, Stony Brook University Fire Marshal Scott Gershowitz, Jennifer Fleming