This article outlines the reasons for & process of conducting proper university inspections. Our 5 step process will help any beginner inspector.

Why Fire Safety on College Campuses Matters

Every year, millions of young adults across the nation move into dorms and apartments that are on or near college campuses and universities. These students come with dreams and aspirations of who they will become and how they will contribute to society. However, some of these pursuits go un-lived due to fatal fire incidents.

The NFPA and the Center for Fire Campus Safety state that, “94 fatal fires (have) occurred on a college campus, in Greek housing, or in off-campus housing within three miles of the campus, claiming 134 lives” between January 2000 and April 2023.

This statistic and the lives it represents are the reason that fire safety on college campuses and universities matter. Any precautions taken, particularly fire and life safety inspections, could systematically reduce the likelihood of more student lives being claimed by fires.

The Vital Role of University Inspections in Fire Safety

University campuses are dynamic environments bustling with students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals within these settings is of paramount importance. 

Fire and life safety inspections on universities and college campuses play a vital role in identifying potential hazards, evaluating compliance with regulations, and implementing preventive measures to mitigate risks. This article provides a comprehensive overview of university fire and life safety inspections. It highlights their objectives, scope, inspection process, and common areas of focus.

Main Objectives of University Inspections:

As an inspector, it is vital to understand the gravity of your work. Meticulous, thoughtful evaluations of the university’s assets and property can be the difference between life and death.

While it can be tedious to look over all the checklist items, it is key to remember the importance of your work along with the goals behind the inspection process.

The primary objectives of university fire and life safety inspections are twofold:

1. Preventing fires

2. Ensuring the safety and security of individuals on campus

While preventing fires and ensuring safety are the main goals behind conducting inspections, there are other smaller objectives tied to them as well.

University fire safety inspections aim to

  • identify potential hazards
  • assess compliance with local, regional, and national safety regulations
  • promote a safe and healthy environment
  • prevent accidents and injuries
  • and ensure effective emergency preparedness and response capabilities.

Educational organizations entrust inspectors with verifying the integrity of their safety measures as well as accurately reporting any defects or deficiencies. By proactively addressing fire and life safety concerns, inspectors and universities together can create an atmosphere conducive to learning, work, and personal well-being.

The Scope of Fire Safety Inspections on Campuses

Fire and life safety inspections encompass various aspects of university campuses. These inspections typically cover buildings and facilities, equipment, hazardous materials, emergency preparedness, and outdoor areas. Each of these categories has specific requirements that need to be checked and met, all of which contribute to a secure campus environment.

Here are some specifics of the inspection categories previously mentioned:

  • Buildings and Facilities: These inspections involve assessing classrooms, laboratories, residence halls, libraries, sports facilities, maintenance areas, and other structures.
  • Equipment: The condition and functionality of equipment such as machinery, electrical systems, HVAC systems, fire alarms, and extinguishers are thoroughly evaluated.
  • Hazardous Materials: Inspectors also examine the storage, handling, and disposal procedures for hazardous materials, including chemicals, biological agents, and radioactive materials.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Assessments regarding emergency preparedness encompass reviewing emergency plans, evacuation routes, communication systems, first aid supplies, and training programs.
  • Outdoor Areas: such as walkways, parking lots, lighting, and landscaping are inspected to ensure the safety and security of individuals traversing these spaces.

The University Inspection Process

The fire and life safety inspection process typically involves several key steps.

1. Schedule Inspections – The university inspections process begins with getting an appointment scheduled. As the inspector, work with the organization to confirm a designated time and location to conduct the inspection. Once an appointment has been made, make sure to put this information into your calendar along with a reminder. Fire and life safety inspections should be conducted by trained personnel, often a safety officer, facilities staff, or external expert. If you are not educated on fire safety, life safety regulations, and relevant codes, you should not be facilitating the inspection.

2. Preparation – Fire and life safety inspectors are expected to come to the job well prepared. Some best practices for inspection prep include reviewing the facility file, planning out your day, reviewing any recent changes to NFPA regulations, and bringing a checklist (either digital or physical). These action items will help you walk into the inspection with updated information and tools for success.

3. Perform the Inspection – A physical or digital checklist is used as a reference guide during inspections, ensuring that all critical areas are evaluated. The checklist covers various safety aspects, compliance requirements, and best practices specific to the university’s jurisdiction. As the inspector, your job is to meticulously document your observations, findings, and recommendations during the inspection process.

4. Mark and Report Any Issues – If any deficiencies or non-compliance issues are identified, you are expected to communicate them to the appropriate departments or individuals responsible for rectification. Corrective actions may include repairing faulty equipment, addressing structural weaknesses, improving storage and handling procedures, or updating emergency plans.

5. Follow up – In the case that there were reported issues, a follow-up inspection may be conducted to ensure that corrective actions have been implemented effectively.

University Inspection Basics to Know About

Fire safety is a primary concern during inspections. Inspectors evaluate fire suppression systems, alarms, emergency exits, signage, and fire safety plans. They also verify compliance with fire codes and assess the adequacy of fire extinguishers and their placement throughout the campus.

Electrical safety is another critical area of focus, with inspectors examining wiring, electrical panels, grounding, and compliance with electrical codes to prevent electrical hazards.

Chemical safety assessments ensure that hazardous materials are properly stored, labeled, and handled. Inspectors review safety data sheets, chemical inventories, and procedures for spill response and disposal.

Structural integrity is assessed to identify any weaknesses or hazards that may compromise building safety. Inspectors examine the integrity of walls, ceilings, floors, and doors, ensuring that they meet fire resistance requirements.

Ergonomics is considered to promote the well-being of individuals. Inspectors assess workstations, seating, and equipment to minimize the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and ensure ergonomic design principles are followed.

Security measures, including access control systems, CCTV cameras, and campus lighting, are inspected to enhance the overall security of the university premises.

While this is not a comprehensive list of the things that are covered in a fire and life safety inspection on a college or university campus, it is enough to get you started!

How Technology Can Simplify University Inspections

Technology can be incorporated into the inspection process on campuses and universities, resulting in a more simple and efficient procedure. Here are just a few of the potential benefits available to those who utilize the InspectNTrack software in their operations. 

Potential benefits: 

  • Streamlined inspection process
  • Enhanced accuracy 
  • Ensured compliance with current regulations
  • Simplified reporting 
  • Data driven decision making 
  • Improved communication and collaboration 

But how are these benefits possible? 

  • Digital checklists and forms 
  • Mobile apps
  • Automated scheduling and notifications 
  • Real time data collection and monitoring 
  • Cloud based storage 
  • Customizable templates 
  • Barcode, QR code and RFID Scanning
  • Data analysis and reporting 
  • Centralized data management 
  • Compliance tracking 

For a more complete breakdown of the benefits to using technology in university inspections, see our article about inspections and software here. 


University fire and life safety inspections are critical for maintaining a secure campus environment. By conducting these inspections, fire safety inspectors proactively identify potential hazards, assess compliance with safety regulations, and implement preventive measures to mitigate risks. They can use this information to update universities and college campuses on the overall health of their fire safety programs.

Other Helpful Articles