The vast majority of student deaths associated with campus fires were actually in off-campus living accommodations. The Department of Education estimates that more than 66% of college and university students live off campus. The University of Denver is not exception. A large portion of our student population chooses to live in the surrounding community in apartments or house shares. This is a great experience that prepares students to live on their own after college, but the sense of freedom and independence should also promote self-advocacy for safe living space.
Your life. Their responsibility.
When you sign a lease or move into a house with friends, safety is not always the first thing on your mind. Unfortunately for a number of students each year, this leads to loss of property and, in some cases, death. No matter how good the deal or how low the rent is, your landlord is required to provide some basic protection of your safety from fire. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are required to be installed in each unit and tested every six months. Fire extinguishers must be provided either in the unit or in the hall (in multi-unit dwellings.) Boilers and furnaces are required to be inspected regularly. The list goes on.
You can assume that all of this is happening, or you can take your life into your own hands.
You have a right to safety. Ask your landlord about safety features before signing a lease. Take note of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when you tour the unit or house. Test them at the same time; sure it's bold, but it's your life. Take note of fire extinguishers and ask when they were last serviced. Ask to see the inspection certificate for the heater. Think of renting a house or an apartment like buying a used car. If they can't prove that the thing has been cared for and will treat you well, don't buy it.
When searching for a new place to live, use this checklist to guide your questions and make sure you get the right answers.
If you have asked your landlord to replace the smoke detectors or give you a fire extinguisher and they have not done so, they are gambling on your life! If your landlord is not complying with fire code or you feel that your apartment or house is unsafe and/or at risk for catching fire, notify the Denver Fire Department by calling the Fire Prevention Division at 720-913-3474.
Should you ever feel that your off-campus accommodations lack basic fire protection equipment or pose a specific threat for catching fire, but do not know where to go, contact the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Fire Safety for guidance.