What is Campus Firewatch?

Ed Comeau, Publisher

Campus Firewatch started out as a monthly, electronic newsletter focusing on the complex issues of campus fire safety. In publication since May 2000, it is read by campus fire officers, state and local fire officials, insurance professionals, equipment manufacturers and all fifty state fire marshals and their staff.

However, since then, it has evolved into so much more than just a newsletter. Campus Firewatch represents what I would like to call a social enterprise where, with the help of a lot of people and organizations, we’re working to improve fire safety at schools and in the communities – and I would like to think we are succeeding. We have had some pretty incredible accomlishments in the field of campus fire safety including the passage of the provisions of the Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know, the launch on Capitol Hill of National Campus Fire Safety Month, states all across the country issuing proclamations for Campus Fire Safety Month, a launch in the UK and much more.

What has also happened is that the mission is evolving to helping protect students not only while they are at school, but for the rest of their lives by giving them the knowledge they need to be fire-safe, forever.

Why did I start publishing Campus Firewatch?

I started Campus Firewatch in 2000 in order to provide a central focal point for campus and community fire officials. Since that time, the issue of campus fire safety has grown tremendously as more schools, parents and communities realize the importance of teaching students about fire safety, not just for the time they are in school but for the rest of their lives. These are, indeed, life skills.

My goal is to provide resources that fire professionals can use in educating and informing students. I also try and provide information that students and parents can use in becoming more aware of how they can protect themselves. Throughout the nine years that Campus Firewatch has been in publication, I have worked with some incredibly dedicated people that have contributed to this collaborative knowledge. Together, we are making a difference in the world of fire safety.

About me (if you are interested!)

So, some information about me. First, I did not lose a child in a campus fire…that is often one of the first questions people ask me. I am so thankful I have not had to go through that tragedy, I just cannot imagine it.

I started it in 2000 to help fill a need, and it was so successful that it led to me forming the non-profit Center for Campus Fire Safety where I was the founding executive diretor until the end of 2006.  I wrote the chapter on campus fire safety for the current edition of the NFPA Fire Protection Handbook and produced the video Graduation: Fatally Denied.  As director for the Center, I managed each of the annual Campus Fire Forums for eight years.  I also was successful in having September recognized as Campus Fire Safety Month by states as well as a resolution passed by the U.S House of Representatives.  I organized both of the Capitol Hill Intern Fire Academies that trained the interns working on Capitol Hill in fire safety and both of the Capitol Hill Campus Fire Safety Summits.

I have been lucky enough to have my writing published in a number of publications and I have been lucky enough to be able to get on a number of national news programs talking about fire safety.

I am the former chief fire investigator for the National Fire Protection Association where I investigated a number of significant incidents, including the English Channel Tunnel Fire, the Kobe Earthquake, the Düsseldorf Airport Terminal Fire, the Goethenburg Disco Fire and the Oklahoma City Bombing.  Prior to this I was a fire protection engineer with the Phoenix Fire Department’s Special Operations Division.

I got my start in this field back when I was a member of the Amherst Fire Department while obtaining my degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Massachusetts.  They have a program where students can live for free in the fire station and function as an engine company while attending school.

More information on my background is available at www.writer-tech.com.