College dormitories could become a little safer if Congress passes a law that would authorize funds to provide competitive matching grants to install sprinklers, fire alarms and other fire prevention mechanisms in student housing, according to two members of Congress from Northeast Ohio.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, and U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Cleveland, Monday announced that they will reintroduce the Stephanie Tubbs Jones College Fire Prevention Act, which was first introduced in the House of Representatives by the late congresswoman Tubbs Jones of Cleveland in 2009. The program will provide competitive matching grants that will fund up to half of the installation costs, with priority given to applicants that demonstrate the greatest financial need.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there was an average of 3,840 fires nationwide in on-campus housing per year costing an average of $20.9 million in property damage between 2005 and 2009.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency states that the use of automatic sprinkler systems greatly reduces property damage and fatalities due to fires.
An aide to Brown said Oberlin College potentially could benefit from the program. Since the bill involves fire protection measures in dormitories and housing, the bill would not provide assistance to Lorain County Community College, which does not have on-campus housing.
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