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News and Press Releases

A Statement from President John Ettling on Sept. 20 Couch Street Fire

11:42am EDT, 20 Sep 2013

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (Sept. 20, 2013) Many of you may have already heard about the early-morning, off-campus apartment fire that seriously injured one of our students and displaced seven more.

Our thoughts are with the residents of 15 Couch St. and especially the injured student, who was airlifted to Syracuse for treatment. Our hearts are with her and her family as she struggles to recover from her injuries.

In the meantime, we are doing what we can to help. We have teamed up with the Plattsburgh College Foundation and College Auxiliary Services to provide the students with temporary residence and meal access; new textbooks and school supplies; and loaner computers.

We are also reaching out to the Red Cross for additional support as our students get back on their feet. Anyone wishing to help with those efforts may contact the Red Cross or contact Project HELP at the Center for Student Involvement, 518-564-4830.

In fact, Project HELP and the Center for Student Involvement will host a meeting in the Cardinal Lounge, noon, Tuesday, for all campus groups wanting to help the displaced students. Please let the office know if you wish to attend. Ask for Michael Cashman, if you have any questions.

While we do not currently know the cause of this fire, it is a reminder to us that we can all reduce our risks by understanding fire safety and practicing fire prevention in our homes. Visit the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control website at and see below for additional tips provided by our University Police.


John Ettling
President, SUNY Plattsburgh
SUNY Plattsburgh Fire Safety Tips
Fire prevention:
- Check to make sure your residence has a working smoke detector. Install new batteries at the beginning of every semester.
- Know all possible exits from your room or residence. 
- Make a fire escape route plan that includes two escape routes.
- Practice your fire escape route plan.
- Inspect your home for fire and safety hazards such as combustible materials or blocked exits.
- Extinguish candles and incense when unattended.
- Do not smoke while tired or impaired.
- Clean up immediately after parties and take all trash outside.
Responding during a fire:
- In the event of a fire or fire alarm, get out and stay out.
- Do not ignore fire alarms.
- Do not wait to see fire or smoke.
- Do not worry about collecting or removing your things.
- Closing the door behind you as you leave may help slow the fire from spreading.
- Pull the fire alarm on your way out if your building is equipped with an alarm system. Note: All on-campus residence halls have fire alarm systems.
- Get out of the building before phoning for help.
- Yell "fire!" and knock on doors as you leave the building.
- Do not hesitate or stray from you path as you leave; remember your fire escape route plan.
- Stay close to the floor where there is likely to be less smoke. Smoke is toxic and can make it impossible to see.
- If you can't get out, the door is hot to the touch, or your exit is blocked by fire, go to a window and call for help. Also:
     - Hang a sheet or other item from the window.
     - Call 911 with your location.
     - Stay low where there is less smoke.

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Contact Information

If you would like more information on any of the following news releases, please contact:

Gerianne Wright, Assistant Director of Communications
SUNY Plattsburgh
Phone: (518) 564-2090