Summer has just begun, but for new high school graduates and students completing another year of college, heading to a campus beckons later in the season. Ted Panagiotopoulos of Wilton, a fire code enforcement official for more than 30 years, wants students and parents to be aware of the dangers of living off-campus. \u201cRoughly 162 kids have been killed in college fires since 2000 \u2014 mostly off-campus,\u201d he said. \u201cA lot of these kids want to get a cheaper apartment. Single- and two-family homes don\u2019t come under the stringent code requirements that multi-family homes do. Then you have illegal housing \u2014 places that are illegally converted. \u201cWe\u2019re just trying to get the message out. There\u2019s a task force that is being created with the campus fire organization to educate students and parents. That\u2019s basically what I\u2019m doing.\u201d Mr. Panagiotopoulos started his own company, Fire and Life Safety Concepts, based in Wilton. According to its website, the company was created \u201cwith the goal, purpose and ambition to provide clients with performance-based options and solutions that can assist them in achieving and maintaining code-compliant properties.\u201d He recently hosted a lecture in Stamford, where he has been a fireman since 1976, beginning in the Glenbrook Fire Department. He is currently the deputy fire marshal for Stamford. \u201cI point the parents and the students into doing the research first,\u201d he said. \u201cIf you\u2019re exploring outside the confines of the college campus, make sure you\u2019re checking with zoning officials, health department and the fire marshal. A lot of times you may have a leasing agent involved and they may or may not be telling you the absolute truth. They\u2019re trying to lease a house, and the place may have been illegally divided. \u201cSmoke detection and carbon monoxide detection are a must. But also don\u2019t get yourself in a situation where you\u2019re in an attic apartment with one stair down, or a basement unit that may not have proper egress windows for you to escape out of your room. \u201cThere are a whole bunch of things to look out for.\u201d Mr. Panagiotopoulos stresses doing the proper research. That means checking to see if the housing has been inspected and if the property is licensed to be a rooming house or a multi-family apartment house. While the small apartment might seem great for friends to live in college, there still needs to be the concern about the legality of the space, and the inherent danger that it may present. \u201cThey\u2019re basically moving people into closets,\u201d Mr. Panagiotopoulos said with a laugh. \u201cTwo or three guys want to bunk out together, but they don\u2019t realize that if something catches fire underneath and they\u2019re cut off, there\u2019s no way they\u2019re going to get down. \u201cI\u2019m passionate about this,\u201d he said. \u201cI\u2019m saying to myself, these kids are going off to college and a lot of them are not seeing graduation because of somebody\u2019s stupidity.\u201d What starts a fire hasn\u2019t changed, he said. Improperly discarded cigarettes, cooking hazards, candles, and more are all capable of starting a fire, but Mr. Panagiotopoulos stresses that students and parents need to know that having a smoke alarm isn\u2019t enough. \u201cIt\u2019s compartmentation of the structure,\u201d he said. \u201cIt\u2019s proper exiting. A lot of people don\u2019t think about it. They have to think about if there\u2019s a fire in an attic, is there a second way out, or are they trapped in the flames.\u201d He added that this is part of a nationwide effort, and a task force is being created by Campus Fire Safety, whose motto, according to its website, is \u201cEvery Student Goes Home.\u201d \u201cI went to Columbus, Ohio, in March and spoke at a Campus Fire Safety risk management event, addressing inspection officials from universities, letting them know how to inspect these dwellings properly,\u201d he said. Mr. Panagiotopoulos is experienced with illegal housing, serving on a task force in Stamford that finds and addresses spaces that aren\u2019t up to code. He said that his biggest concern is education, but not just for the students. \u201cParents often trust their kids to say \u2018I\u2019ve found a place,\u2019\u201d he said. \u201cBut they might not really know what\u2019s going on.\u201d While Fire and Life Safety Concepts is indeed a business that focuses on code consultation, inspection investigation and training, Mr. Panagiotopoulos isn\u2019t profiting from the lectures on off-campus fire safety. \u201cRight now, I\u2019m not charging,\u201d he said. \u201cI\u2019m doing it as a community thing. I think it needs to be out there. Whether you\u2019re doing it on the municipal end or the private end, we\u2019re still doing the same thing.\u201d He does say that perhaps a cost could come into play if a family wants a specific dwelling to be inspected. Travel expenses may be involved, but that\u2019s not something he is thinking about right now. \u201cThis is about the community,\u201d he said. \u201cIt might get my name out there in the local community and it probably does help my business but I\u2019m not looking to make a big profit out of this.\u201d Indeed a North Carolina TV station did a Google search and called him for a comment after an 11-year-old boy died in a hotel in Boone, N.C. \u201cLow and behold, that night I was on NBC,\u201d he said. He said he\u2019ll consider doing this more full time once he retires from the fire department. Mr. Panagiotopoulos moved to Wilton in 2002, \u201cprimarily because I wanted to get my kids into the school system here.\u201d His has two sons, 23 and 22, one who is in college, and the other is in the working world. Turning away from his personal life, he returns to talking about fire safety, which is never far from his mind. \u201cAlways be aware of your surroundings,\u201d he said. \u201cLook for that second exit.\u201d Information: firelifesafetyconceptsllc.com.