Howard University And Washington D.C. Fire And EMS Improve Community Fire Readiness Through Nationwide Town/Gown Project


(WASHINGTON)– To raise awareness about fire and carbon monoxide (CO) safety in the community and on campus, Howard University and the Washington D.C. Fire and EMS are partnering with First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety*, along with Campus Firewatch and the Michael H. Minger Foundation to participate in the third annual Town/Gown Fire Safety Community Service Project, dotingly titled Bison Fire Safety.  Howard University is the only historically black college and university selected to participate in this year’s project.

“We are excited to be a part of the Town/Gown Project. This is a great opportunity to further educate our community and Howard University students about the importance of fire and CO safety, and equip many homes with needed alarms,” said Valarie G. Turner, Ph.D., director of Off-Campus Housing and Community Engagement at Howard University.

“Our goal is to assist and educate students, the elderly and families throughout the D.C. community to help reduce the risk of fatal fires. This helps make the community stronger and safer for everyone.”

As part of the Town/Gown Fire Safety Community Service Project, Howard University was chosen along with 24 other organizations to host community events nationwide. Washington D.C. Fire and EMS will work alongside students to conduct home safety visits in at-risk communities and install the 100-combination smoke and CO alarms donated by First Alert.

The Bison Fire Safety Service Project will kick-off on November 2, throughout Washington D.C. Students and residents at-large will be able to learn the importance of fire safety and work alongside firefighters to properly equip homes with combination smoke and CO alarms.

“The DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department is committed to reducing the risk of incidents, injuries, fatalities and property loss due to a fire emergency. Most fatal fires occur at night while people are sleeping,” says DC Fire Marshal, Chief Tony Falwell. “Working smoke alarms give you an early warning so that you and your family can escape. Last year, the DC Fire and EMS Department installed 1,104 smoke alarms in residents’ homes. Homeowners living in the District of Columbia can receive one smoke alarm per household free of charge. Smoke alarms save lives!”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three out of four fires occur in the home, the very place that most people feel the safest.

“The NFPA reports when a home does have working smoke alarms, it cuts the fatality risk of home fires in half,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “Smoke alarms are one of the best, and easiest, solutions to enhance home safety. And, by partnering with Campus Firewatch and the Michael H. Minger Foundation for the Town/Gown project, we are able to both educate communities about fire safety and install alarms for a long-lasting impact.”

Fire Safety Do’s and Don’ts

In order to protect what matters most in the event of a fire or CO emergency, Washington D.C. Fire and EMS recommends careful preparation and planning:

  • Do: Check where your alarms are placed. The U.S. Fire Administration and NFPA advise that homes have smoke alarms installed inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. For CO alarms, homes should have at least one alarm on each level and one in or near every sleeping area.
  • Don’t: Install it, then forget it. Smoke alarms don’t last forever and should be replaced every 10 years. And don’t assume your alarm is working properly; test it monthly and change the batteries at least once a year or if a low battery chirp occurs. Alarms with a 10-year sealed battery provide hassle-free protection, eliminating the risk of forgetting to change the batteries or having an alarm deactivated due to battery removal.
  • Do: Make and practice an escape plan. It is essential to plan an emergency escape route and practice it at least twice a year. This ensures that everyone knows how to evacuate the home safely and where to meet, in the event of an emergency.


To learn more about fire and CO safety, visit the First Alert website at, the Campus Firewatch website at or the Michael H. Minger Foundation at You also can follow the Town/Gown Fire Safety Community Service Project on Twitter and Facebook via #TownGownFire.


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(Featured photo: Howard University and DC Fire and EMS Department come together in preparation for the series of smoke and carbon monoxide installations in November throughout Wards 1, 7 and 8.)

About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, two Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, over 70 Fulbright Scholars and 22 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States.  For more information on Howard University visit

Media Contact: Imani Pope-Johns,                                   


*First Alert Brand Trust Survey, February 2018 – Results are based on the responses of 1,000 adults, ages 25 and older, living in the United States who completed an online survey, February 15-19, 2018. Results are statistically significant at a 95 percent confidence level and can be generalized to the entire adult population in the United States within those statistical parameters. For more information or a copy of the complete survey results, contact Tim Young at LCWA: 312/565-4628 or

About Campus Firewatch

Campus Firewatch is a social entrepreneurship focused on helping to save lives at our nation’s campuses. For more information, visit Facebook | Twitter @campusfirewatch

About Michael H. Minger Foundation

The Michael H. Minger Foundation was formed following the death of Michael Minger in a residence hall fire. The Foundation focuses on fire safety for all students, including students with special needs such as physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities. More information is available at or on Facebook at



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