September is National Campus Fire Safety Month – Get Fire Safe

Welcome back to DC Students!

September is National Campus Fire Safety month with more than 28 states – and the District of Columbia – issuing proclamations to help bring awareness to unsafe conditions and activities on and off campus.

Five people died in the 2009-2010 academic year, continuing a downward trend that is good news.  All of the fatalities occurred in off-campus housing which is where over 80% of the 140 fire deaths since 2000 have occurred.

“With the tragic exceptions of 2006/2007 and 2007/2008, we are seeing a decline in the number of campus-related fire deaths,” said Ed Comeau, publisher of Campus Firewatch.  “Each fire is a tragedy, but the fact that fire deaths are dropping is welcome news.  While I can’t say for certain what is causing this drop, I have to think it is related to the increased awareness of fire safety by schools, communities, students and parents. I can’t say enough about how much everyone is working to help make their communities and campuses fire-safe.”

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs started this blog and our outreach efforts in 2008 to bring awareness not only to fire safety issues in college housing, but also other building issues and violations that can affect the health of students.

Why should you care?

We know some of you may be hesitant to call the government to have an inspection or to report your landlord. We know this is a difficult decision. And while we highly recommend you see if your landlord has a license (put in your address and you click on licensing) and report any code violations, we have published the list of items our inspectors look for during a basic safety inspection.

You need to ask your landlord some tough questions if you see things that don’t look quite right. If you don’t get the response you were hoping for, contact us if you need help. More contact information is to the left.

We encourage EVERYONE, student or not, to use this information to learn your rights, understand the rules. Please contact us at anytime to get answers to your questions or call 202-442-9557 to schedule an inspection if you have issues with your apartment or home. And do an inspection yourself from time to time, even if your property is licensed.

Win iPod Touch, Nano for Tweeting Fire Safety Tips to Students #tellastudent

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The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is supporting Campusfirewatch in promoting National Campus Fire Safety Month 2009 which kickoffs on September 1 and they have a great new campaign.

From August 27 to September 3, Campus Firewatch wants to provide its Twitter community with an easy way to raise awareness about campus fire safety – and possibly win some great prizes including an iPod Touch, iPod Nano and iTunes Gift Certificates.

Beginning at 8 p.m. on Thursday, August 27, 2009 they are asking our community and our community’s communities to start using Twitter to send messages to students with fire safety tips using the hashtag “#tellastudent” at the end of your message.

They’ll be putting out examples several times a day for people @campusfirewatch, so you can simply follow us, copy and send the messages on to students you know.

Here are some examples:

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Whoever sends the most tweets to students using #tellastudent as of midnight on Thursday, September 3, 2009, will win the iPod Touch. The second highest will get the Nano. It’s that easy.

They are also going to be giving away numerous iTunes gift certificates daily to people whose tweets are the most creative. Please be sure to follow @campusfirewatch to find out if you’ve won.

How do they know you’re tweeting students? They don’t. They’ll trust you. But if non-students get this information, we’ll all be a little safer anyway. As students return to campus, we hope this is a fun way to get important reminders to students.

If you don’t know how to use Twitter, check out this video and join in.

Also join National Campus Fire Safety Month Group on Facebook

Visit the National Campus Fire Safety Month Website

Take a look at their Social Media Newsroom

For more information and the rules – there aren’t too many – visit their post here.

Crunch Time – DCRA Can Help if You’re Renting Last Minute

Chances are that if you don’t have an off-campus apartment in DC for this fall, you are scrambling, freaking out and willing to take just about anything near campus. You’re scouring Craigslist and other apartment listing services. These sites are great, but what they don’t do is filter. Anyone and everyone can post whatever they want without much recourse. You get what you get. This is crunch time and you might settle for something that is ugly. That’s fine. You might settle for something small. Chances are that’s fine too. But what you don’t want is something that’s unsafe.

Part of the reason the District of Columbia requires landlords to get licensed isn’t because we get just get a check – in fact, the licensing is not a money-raising venture for DCRA. The key reason is that for the license to be approved, the landlord needs to have an inspection of the property. Are there two exits in case there’s a fire? Is there smoke alarms? Does the plumbing leak? Here is a list of just the simple items we look for. You can print and take that list with you when you check out the place.

We know you’re in a rush to get into something. But please, please at least ask your landlord if he is licensed by DCRA. Or you can look up all licensed rental properties through our main Website here. There is a guide that shows you what type of rental license you need to be looking for. If your potential apartment isn’t listing, ask the landlord why. Ask him the last time it was inspected. Show him the checklist. This sounds annoying, we know. But you are going to sleep in someone’s house you don’t know and if he can’t answer simple questions, then how he will respond later. Just something to think about. Most of the landlords in DC are great and most have licenses from DCRA. Now is the time that those who just want to make a quick buck prey upon the thousands students who arrive every fall.

So look up the apartment and ask some questions. This will at least offer a little filtering of the places you’ll see online. If you have any questions, email us, tweet us or chat with us on Facebook. We’re here 24 hours a day to answer any questions or help give you some guidance on your search. Good luck. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs can help.

And to those landlords who are not licensed. It’s not too late, you won’t be penalized and it is a simple and quick process. Here is a fact sheet. And you too can email ustweet us or chat with us on Facebook. We want students and all residents to be safe. We are inspecting all rental units in the District over the next few years so you might as well do the right thing and get licensed and inspected now and keep the students you’re renting safe. Keep your property safe.

Welcome Back GW. See Story in Today’s Hatchet

Welcome back George Washington University students. Be sure to grab a copy of today’s Hatchet to see our ad and read the story about our efforts.

The thisshouldbeillegal.com team will be on campus today and tomorrow handing out information and posting fliers. Please take a few minutes to glance at the postings below. There is a ton of information here already and we need your feedback.

Sign into your Facebook account and join our group where you can post videos, photos or just comment on the conditions at your off-campus home. Be sure to sign into your Facebook account first. Or just become a fan.

The goal of this effort is to ensure all college students living off campus have had their house or apartment inspected and that their landlord is licensed. If you click here, you can investigate your landlord by name or address. Email us if you have any questions.

Thanks again. If you are a member of a student group, scroll down see how you can help your classmates. We’ll create individualized posters and other materials for you. Have a great first day back GW.

Got a comment? Let us hear it.

thisshouldbeillegal.com at Howard. Georgetown here we come.

The DC Department of Consumer & Regulatory Street team (well, all three of us) hit Howard University for its first day classes on Tuesday and distributed hundreds of water bottles, fliers and magnets to be sure students living off-campus know where to get assistance. Thanks to everyone for their kind comments and thanks for coming to visit us so soon. We heading over to Georgetown this afternoon. Hope to see you there.

UPDATE: Georgetown was great. Met the director of the Student Ministry who might be interested in helping DCRA spread the word to students.

Sidewalk Chalk Advertisements at Howard
Sidewalk Chalk Advertisements at Howard
thisshouldbeillegal.com Street Team chats with students
thisshouldbeillegal.com Street Team chats with students
Fliers placed around Campus
Fliers placed around Campus